Three years ago I experienced several bereavements in a short space of time in what was the toughest period in my life. I became severely depressed and didn't leave the house for several months. My confidence was shattered and I struggled to see how things were going to get better. Thankfully, I found The Prince's Trust and taking part in their 12-week personal development programme Team, they helped me get back on my feet, gain new skills and move into work.
Grateful for the help I received, last year I decided to volunteer in my spare time as a Young Ambassador for The Trust. The position has enabled me to inspire others and raise awareness about the fantastic support available to young people. I've also had the privilege of representing The Trust at various events including award ceremonies and a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
While I've enjoyed the odd trip to London, what I've really got out of the role of Young Ambassador is being able to give back to the organisation that changed my life. If I hadn't found The Trust, I don't know where I'd be so being able to make a contribution to their work means the world to me.
The 1st to the 12th of this month marks Volunteers Week which celebrates the contributions made by individuals and communities across the UK. As well as recognising the efforts of people who already volunteer, the celebrations remind and inspire us all about how we can make a difference. Whether it's supporting others, helping to provide key services or improving the environment we live in, there are so many different roles out there and I encourage you to play your part. Everybody needs support at some point in their lives and I think we all have a responsibility to lend a helping hand.
Research has suggested that people who volunteer live longer and lead more satisfying lives, while altruism can also help you in your career. On top of that, volunteering may provide you with opportunities you wouldn't normally have. In my role with The Trust I've met so many interesting people including Jon Culshaw, Fearne Cotton and Brian Cox to name but a few!
Later this month, I'll be taking part in a sailing challenge around the British Isles with the charity Turn to Starboard, who help ex-military personnel suffering from physical injuries and mental trauma readjust to civilian life. The Prince's Trust works with Turn to Starboard through its partnership with military charity, Help for Heroes. Nearly 40 ex-servicemen and women are taking part in the Round Britain Challenge along with Prince's Trust staff and Young Ambassadors. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and likely to be one of the toughest challenges I've faced. Although the crew will come from different backgrounds and with different experiences, we'll be working in harmony, challenging our minds and bodies to achieve something together and I think that's really special - I can't wait to get started.
Simply put, there are some things in life which are good for us. Eating well, exercising and socialising are all a given, but I think volunteering should be right up there as well. It's strange but it sometimes feels like I'm a different person now from who I was and I think a lot of that is down to contributing towards something I feel so passionately about. If you're looking to improve your own life, try helping others, it's helped me to rebuild mine.
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