Shining On - Jenna's Volunteering Story

Published on
June 2, 2023
June 6, 2023
Written by
Alan Mairs
Written by
Sacro
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My name is Jenna, I am 33 years old, and I am a volunteer on student placement with Shining On, which is part of The Shine women’s mentoring service.

I have been volunteering with Shining On since December 2022 when we started training. This was followed by shadowing a Shine mentor in February, before I finally started supporting a person on my own in April.

I decided to volunteer with Shining On as part of my HND College course in Additional Support Needs - Managing and Supporting Services. I chose this course because I wanted to start a career in the criminal justice sector and when I found the volunteering opportunity with Shining On, I knew this would be great for the experience and gaining more knowledge and skills within this field of work. The placement is part of my course, so it was practical for me to find a service taking on students to give me an understanding of the sort of support the service provides.  My plan is to continue on with my studies by attending university and continuing down the criminal justice route to gain a career within this field.

I have enjoyed meeting the women and understanding who they are as a person rather than their crimes. I enjoyed interacting with them and creating a bond with them. I enjoyed experiencing the different environments while I was shadowing during which I was able to visit The Bella unit in Dundee, a Community Custody Unit which helps support integration back into the community gradually. I also had a shadowing opportunity to attend court with a woman and was able to shadow a prison visit too. I enjoyed being able to be part of this and to understand the types of support these women may need.  I also visit the gym with a mentee to help her gain confidence to visit the gym and give her a healthy routine within her life. I have really enjoyed this and gives me a reason to visit the gym too!

The benefits I have experienced personally is to look beyond the crime and understand the women themselves. Not making a judgement of the women because of their crimes but understanding their past. This gave me the understanding in my own life to never judge a person.  The added benefit of visiting the gym weekly with my mentee helps me with my weight gain and with my health too! This has also helped me with my own anxiety about attending the gym, to the point where I now feel confident and happy to visit a gym.

My time volunteering has been the best. Visiting the gym has been an amazing experience and a real benefit to my me and my mentee!  We always joke about falling off the machines or not knowing what we are doing as it was both our first time in the gym, so we decided to YouTube how to use the machines and found this rather funny. We didn’t know the names of the machines, so couldn’t YouTube some of the machines which gave us no option but to ask someone who was also using the gym. Luckily enough the girl we asked only knew how to use the machines because her boyfriend showed her how to use them, so we didn’t feel embarrassed as much. She showed us how the machines worked and the different workouts that we could do. My mentee thinks she’s a professional now and continues to show me what to do and makes up exercise plans for us both!

I would highly recommend volunteering for Shining On. This service has been brilliant from the first day it started and continues to thrive! Shining On is really beneficial to the women it supports and when I was shadowing the different ladies, they all spoke highly of the service. They were all really happy to be part of Shine/Shining On and could not fault the service one bit. Everything explained to me regarding the service was exactly what was visible to see. The communication was brilliant, and the opportunities were amazing. I have decided to continue volunteering after my studies because I enjoyed the experience so much and would love to continue to be part of a fantastic service.

I would say to someone who is considering volunteering to definitely go for it, they would not be disappointed. The service is 110% the best I have been part of! I’ve had placements before in past courses and this one is definitely the best I have been part of. The opportunities available are good and the people who are part of the service are also amazing!  The best choice I made was being part of this service and I will continue to enjoy this experience for however long I am a volunteer.

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