“The most important thing you can do for the young person is be empathetic and listen to them. You might be the only person that’s taken the time to do that for them,” says Mary Lou from Benalla about her experience as a volunteer with Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program.
Mary-Lou has been involved in the program for almost 10 years.
“It’s not realistic to expect kids to grow up without any care, love and support. I try to ask the young person ‘what are you passionate about?’ or ‘what would make it easier for you to think about going back to school again?’,” she shares.
As well as supporting young people through YRIPP, Mary Lou also works with students at school who have learning issues and she is also a foster carer.
“Supporting young people is why I stay involved in YRIPP - to give the kids some assistance whilst they are in the police station.”
Volunteering, according to Mary-Lou, is a rewarding experience.
“I think volunteering adds to your own personal growth and you become a better person by doing it.”
“I’ve learned so many new skills from being involved in YRIPP and you certainly learn a lot from the kids that your support. “
Her advice to those looking to volunteer is to be kind to yourself.
“As long as you look after yourself, and don’t take on too much, it’s a really rewarding role. More importantly, you could be that one person that can make a positive difference to a child’s life.”
“Go on, get involved!”
To find out more about volunteering with YRIPP, click here.