Chris is a trained volunteer with Sova and helps run an after school and holiday drop-in centre for young people in the city of Sheffield.
Chris started going to the youth club himself, before deciding to become a volunteer - “I thought volunteering would be really interesting and I could help others by sharing my own experiences - I hadn’t realised I would gain so much from it. With support from the staff, I have had the opportunity to gain more skills in working with young people, including a nationally recognised youth work qualification. Plus, you really do see the difference you can make to young people’s lives. You see them grow in confidence, develop skills, enjoy new opportunities and start to make better choices”.
Chris has been instrumental in setting up the ‘Star Awards’, which, for the past four years, have recognised the achievements of care experienced young people in the city. Chris was in the care of Sheffield as a young person and was supported by and benefited from the help Sova provided – “as a young person they gave me so much support and helped me believe in myself, so I wanted to give back to them”. Chris joined together a small group of young people to form the Leaving Care Group which applied for funding and organised the first Star Awards. This is now an annual event.
In 2014, Chris was presented with a letter from the Prime Minister identifying him as a ‘Point of Light’ in recognition of his volunteering with children - “It was quite emotional receiving the award at the town hall and I felt really proud. The award is a letter, which I’ve framed, so I’m really happy with it and it’s really spurred me on to continue volunteering in the future”.
The Prime Minister’s letter thanked Chris for his inspirational efforts as a volunteer, and Councillor Rippon said
he was pleased to make the presentation, commenting “without people like Chris we’d be in dire straits”.