Olivia Tucker first went to Swansea to study at the university. Since then, she has become a force for good in her local community, volunteering to support teenage girls as a Group Leader at GFS Dunvant.
On planning activities for the group of up to ten young women, Olivia says:
“I really enjoy working with the girls to plan what they want to do at the group. Sometimes I suggest things that they’re really keen on, but they’re not afraid to let me know if they don’t like what I’m suggesting! In particular all of the girls at the group love role play activities. I think it gives them the chance to imagine themselves in all kinds of situations without any limits.”
Olivia came to GFS through the government’s Interational Citizen Service, which requires participants to contribute to a voluntary cause in the UK in addition to a 12-week placement abroad. After fulfilling her placement, she chose to continue giving her time to make a difference for the young women of Dunvant.
“The group is a place that provides opportunities for teenagers to meet people outside of their usual circles – the girls have made friends with people they wouldn’t usually. We have a group chat for keeping in touch and the girls are all really supportive of each other. Some of the girls were very shy and anxious when they joined the group, so seeing them open up is great.”
Not satisfied with making a difference through her volunteering work, Olivia is also trying to make the world a better place in her professional life. Olivia works full time for the NSPCC and finds that what she has learnt through her volunteering has been hugely useful in her career, as the group allows her to understand young people and the issues they face more fully.
The landscape for girls and young women today is challenging. Funding for youth services has been cut by 69% since 2010 and the effects are being felt – research has shown that girls do not feel heard in public life, are stressed about their academic performance and worry about their appearance regularly from as young as five. By volunteering her time, Olivia and the other volunteers at GFS Dunvant provide a place where girls can take shelter from the pressures of their lives.
GFS Dunvant is in need of more inspiring women like Olivia to help run the group. If you could spare 2-3 hours a week to help reach and support more teenagers in Dunvant, head to GFS Dunvant’s webpage. The group meets on a Wednesday and welcomes women volunteers from all backgrounds and experience levels.