The importance of small interactions over time 

Meet Michael, a passionate volunteer who has been actively involved with the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program (YRIPP) for over a decade. We sat down with him for a chat about his experience with the program. 

Michael, YRIPP volunteer

He discovered YRIPP stumbling upon an article in the local newspaper seeking volunteers in his area and that instantly sparked his interest. At a stage in his life where he wasn’t going back to full-time work, he felt a strong desire to give back through volunteering. Recognising the limitations of financial contributions alone, Michael aimed to expand his philanthropic footprint and support young people who lacked the guidance and parental care they deserved. 

“I thought that there’s more things to do than just donating money […] I thought that if I can be of some assistance to these young people, that would be good. It was a sense of helping some young people, giving them some parental support.” 

When called to the police station, he understands the importance of trying to establish rapport in the limited time before the interview. By showing up and dedicating his time, often during the late hours of the night, Michael conveys a sense of care and support that these young people may not have experienced before. He acknowledges that his short interactions may not create an immediate or huge change but hopes that his consistent presence and genuine concern will eventually make a lasting impact. 

“It’s like a dripping tap, one doesn’t see a big difference immediately, but if it’s continually dripping, it can have an effect overtime.” 

While reflecting on the challenges of being a YRIPP volunteer, Michael sees them as opportunities to help the young individuals he encounters. Establishing a rapport within the brief moments before an interview can be challenging, especially considering the time of day and urgency of the situation.  

Michael explained it can be frustrating not knowing what happens to these young individuals after leaving the police station. However, he often witnesses their genuine appreciation for his presence throughout the lengthy interview process. The simple act of staying by their side during a difficult time leaves a lasting impact, reminding them that someone cares and is willing to dedicate time out of their busy schedules.  

Michael believes that continued support and empowerment are vital for young people who have been in the justice system. It is essential to offer comprehensive support, not just financial assistance, and to provide positive influences and guidance.  

“It’s just a matter of supporting them and showing them that they are decent young people. Even if they made one wrong decision or had one problem in their lives, that doesn’t condemn them to that way of future going forward.” 

To those interested in joining the YRIPP program, Michael invites them to focus on the opportunity to show young people that someone cares and is willing to dedicate their time and effort to support them. In addition to positively impacting the lives of these young people, by offering referral pathways for further support, volunteers also contribute to the functioning of the justice system. 

“It’s rewarding in a different way. It’s when that young person says to you at the end of the interview “Thank you for coming” and you know they haven’t been prompted to say that by the police. That makes it worthwhile.” 

Flexibility is a key aspect of volunteering with YRIPP as volunteers can choose to commit as much or as little time as they desire while ensuring that there is always a minimum number of volunteers available at least once a week.

To join Michael and the many other YRIPP volunteers who are providing crucial support to young people in the justice system, visit YRIPP