It’s #IWillWeek – a weeklong celebration of the impact that young people have on the communities and causes that mean the most to them.
So we caught up with Louisa, one of our Duke of Edinburgh volunteers in Northern Ireland, to find out why she loves volunteering with Sustrans and what it is doing for her and the local community.
My name is Louisa and I volunteer with Sustrans on the Comber Greenway once a month with my friend Lydia. We take part in task days to spruce up the route and help out at information stands along the greenway.
I also assist at festivals and events, inspiring people to explore and use the route and encouraging those on bikes to be more mindful on shared-use paths.
Connecting young people to the community
Why did I choose to volunteer with Sustrans? Well, I like being outdoors, and apart from Duke of Edinburgh – which is how I started volunteering – this was one of the only ways I could get outside and do something good for my local area at the same time.
“ I really wanted to get outdoors and do something that would help my community, and volunteering with Sustrans lets me do that ”
I really wanted to do something that would help my community, and as a young person you don’t really spend a lot of time in your community these days. Especially once you go to secondary school as you’re not in your hometown during the week so you don’t really do much there.
I decided to volunteer with Sustrans because I like the message the charity promotes – choosing more sustainable and active ways to travel when you want to get out and about. It has also really shown me the amazing places I have so close to home, just like the Comber Greenway.
Making a difference in your local area
Volunteering makes me feel refreshed because it usually involves spending time outside in really nice places and talking to local people to encourage them to do something positive. You are also working in a team with a common goal like when I go along to a task day to help maintain part of the National Cycle Network.
Volunteering in my community helps spread the message that the youth care
“ Volunteering in my community helps spread the message that the youth care ”
I also think it’s good for the community to see young people volunteering. When I’m helping out at Sustrans promotional events and I speak to people, it spreads the message that the youth care.
If you are encouraging someone older than you to do something, it might help them to realise it is important and think differently about the possibilities and lead to them actually making a change.
Doing good does you good too
Volunteering out on the greenway and generally being involved in activities with Sustrans has made me more familiar with the route itself and helped give me the confidence to cycle more often.
Sustrans also provided cycle training as part of my volunteering, and this year I’ve cycled the seven miles each way to school and even further into town and work, and whilst on holiday this year – it’s fantastic!
I’d definitely recommend that more people, old and young, volunteer with Sustrans!