My Journey with ERVAS and the Volunteen project

East Riding Voluntary Action Services (ERVAS) is a local organisation that champion’s and supports the voluntary and community sector in the East Riding of Yorkshire. They are an organisation that can guide and support you through all aspects of making a positive difference to your community. They can help with providing information on how to set up an organisation, develop an existing one, help you access funding and discover new opportunities. For more information about ERVAS you can find out more at

The Volunteen project is run by ERVAS.  It aims to help young people  aged 11 – 25 in the East Riding of Yorkshire to increase life skills, by introducing them to new and enjoyable social activities.

Volunteen works with Secondary Schools, as well as a wide mixture of groups from the voluntary, statutory and private sector.  Their aim is to ensure that all young people in East Yorkshire have the chance to benefit from volunteering. The project is designed to increase the confidence, self esteem, skills and knowledge of young people.


In 2012 I started volunteering with ERVAS whilst at school, I was a volunteer peer mentor working at school to help and support the younger students with their transition between primary and secondary school along with providing them support with any issues they may be facing whilst at school.

As part of the Volunteering for Young People in East Riding (VYPER) scheme I was able to achieve my Bronze, Silver & Gold awards for volunteering more than 500 hours.

2013 & 2014

In 2013 / 14 I started to set up my own anti-bullying project Action Against Bullying and Advice for Teachers, these two projects started to form the beginning of the new Devan Group.

I was supported by ERVAS with this as they helped me get in touch with people in the local area along with helping me gain a place on the East Riding Council Anti-Bullying Strategy Group. Being a member of this group helped me to raise awareness of my project whilst being able to have a say in how the council could form anti-bullying strategies and run various events. 

The Advice for Teachers website was created with the help of Fixers UK who are National Lottery funded through the Big Lottery Fun. They later worked with ERVAS to support other young people in the area. During this time ERVAS were supporting me with the expenses of setting up the Devan Group such as helping me towards travel costs and buying various materials that helped me to promote the work that I was doing within schools.


In 2015 ERVAS supported me to become a member of the Anti-Bullying alliance, this helped me to further my network of Anti-Bullying contacts whilst also gaining more information about other anti-bullying organisations across the UK.

During 2015 ERVAS also put me in touch with Talent Match Humber (A project that is National Lottery funded through the Big Lottery Fund aimed at helping those young people that are the furthest away from the labour market).

Through this connection ERVAS supported me to attend various volunteer meetings. From this I managed to gain a seconded internship between Talent Match Humber (Humber Learning Consortium) and the Hull Youth Justice Service (Hull City Council). This happened thanks to ERVAS, they enabled me to build my confidence and work on how I could promote the work that I was doing at the time. This helped me loads when I was asked to meet with the Service Manager for the Hull Youth Justice Service through ERVAS being a strategic partner.

In October this year ERVAS jointly nominated me to receive the Diana Award where I travelled to Barclay’s HQ in London and took part in various life skills activities along with being presented the award.  Towards the end of 2015 I was invited to become an ambassador for the National Lottery. As part of this role I joined many young people in London to celebrate the National Lottery Funding, this started a campaign to show how National Lottery Funding supports so many people.


In 2016 my internship ended and I became a full-time staff member with ERVAS (seconded to the Hull Youth Justice Service) this enabled me to further my work with the youth justice service. At the end of the year I later found out that I had been nominated for the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to children’s mental healthcare and wellbeing.

All my work mentioned has been made possible from the continued support that I have received from all of the staff at ERVAS through National Lottery Funding.

Safer Internet Day 2017 – ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet’

Today is Safer Internet Day 2017, the day is coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre. The day is a celebration that sees hundreds of organisations come together and get involved to help promote the safe and positive uses of digital technology for young people.

The UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading charities; Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation. The organisation provides resources for children & young people, Schools and families. You can find out more about safer internet day at:

Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe. – UK Safer Internet Centre.

Today is an opportunity for everyone to talk about and highlight the positive uses of technology and to explore the role everyone plays in helping to create a better and safer online community. The day calls upon everyone, young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers, and everyone else to join together in helping to make and create a better internet.

The Devan Group is pleased to announce that again this year we are one of the Safer Internet Day supporters. If you would like more information about how to stay safe online, or how you can become involved in a positive internet, you can visit the UK Safer Internet Centre’s website.

Alternatively if you are looking for help and support with being bullied online visit the Devan Group website where you will find information about cyberbullying in the anti-bullying pages.





Time to Talk Day 2017

Today is Time to Talk Day organised and run by Time to Change:

The aim of Time to Talk Day is to get as many people talking about mental health as possible. At the moment, people with mental health problems are made to almost feel isolated because of their condition. They are made to feel worthless about themselves just because of how other people react.

Time to Talk Day is an opportunity for you to just have a conversation and talk about mental health. This doesn’t need to be difficult and can be as simple as making a cuppa or going for a walk.

I wanted to talk about how bullying can affect your mental health, especially the mental health of young people who are being bullied.

Bullying has so many affects that it is unbelievable, it affects everyone in a different way. Being bullied though can also affect your mental health, it causes both long and shot term problems.

Short term, being bullied can cause a young person to suffer from depression, it can also cause young people to want to self harm or commit suicide. The victim may even feel that they are unwanted or unloved. This can lead to the development of low self esteem, low self confidence or social anxiety.

Long term, bullying is known to cause chronic depression, PTSD and OCD  amongst other mental health conditions. Bullying can also impact on an existing mental health condition and cause the victim’s state of mental health to worsen. As a young person it is hard enough growing up with a mental health condition, so this being made worse because of bullying can make growing up very difficult.

I would like to encourage everyone today to talk to someone about their mental health, just ask them how they are feeling and if you are asked about your own mental health, you do not need to be ashamed to talk about it.

It’s never to late to have a conversation, have one today!



Safer Internet Day 2016

Today is Safer Internet Day 2016, this year the day has the theme “Play your part for a better internet!”

SID2016 is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre as part of today hundreds of organisations are getting involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for both children and young people.

Here is some information about today taken from the Safer Internet Centre website:

“Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe.

“The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community. It calls upon young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers, and wider, to join together in helping to create a better internet. Get involved to play your part!”



Locally, the Not in or Community Campaign is marking the day by using technology to hold an online link-up, that will help young people to protect themselves and friends online against sexual exploitation.

Not in or Community are working with secondary schools in Hull and the East Riding to hold their event, and this is the first of its kind. This event will take place from 11 am on Friday 18th March.

To find out more about the Not in our Community Campaign visit their website at


Time to Talk Day

Today is Time to Talk Day, organised and run by Time to Change:

The aim is to get as many people as possible across England talking about mental health.

By joining together on one day, we can break the silence that often surrounds mental health, and show that talking about this once-taboo issue doesn’t need to be difficult. – Time to Change

This is a great opportunity for you to talk to someone you know about their mental health. If you do, you will be joining tens of thousands of other individuals and hundreds of organisations who will also be speaking out about mental health.

Time to Change want to encourage everyone today to have a conversation about Mental Health and log this conversation on their map here.

You can be involved today in many different ways just check out the Time to Change website for more information:

You could have a conversation that is as simple as asking someone how they are feeling today, spreading the message about Time to Change and their campaign or sharing an interesting fact about mental health.

Many people don’t realise that mental health problems are as common as they are. By starting these simple conversations in everyday life we can show that there’s no need to be afraid of talking about mental health and it doesn’t need to be as hard as a lot of people think. – Time to Change

If during a conversation you feel that you or someone you know needs support with their mental health, the Time to Change website lists some support services here.

If you’re aged under 25 you can also get support from the free confidential helpline Get Connected. They are a great organisation that offers free help and advice to anyone under 25 about any issue including mental health.

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Sooo… This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. 10% of the UK’s population is Dyslexic (Yes I am 1 of that 10%). The theme of this week is ‘Making Sense of Dyslexia’.

What is Dyslexia? 

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that primarily affects the ability to learn to read and spell. It often runs in families and stems from a difficulty in processing the sounds in words. – Dyslexia Action

Check out this video from Fixers UK about one young person helping other young people with Dyslexia:

Dyslexia is not the same for everyone, it ranges in types and forms such as being mild or severe. Dyslexia is not related to someone’s intelligence and also is not caused by visual difficulties. There are many ways for someone with Dyslexia to manage this, but it can always be felt in times of stress or new situations.

The best way to approach Dyslexia or help someone who has Dyslexia is to understand it and not treat it as a barrier.

There are loads of signs that someone may be dyslexic, and these can vary depending on age. Dyslexia Action have put together a great resource that lists everything you need to know about Dyslexia and this can be found here.

This great Daily Mail article also shows you what its like to be Dyslexic, check it out here.

The best way to help, is to understand.

International Day of Charity – The importance of Social Action

Today is the International Day of Charity, it has been established with the objective of “sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGO’s (non-governmental organisations), and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities”.

According to the United Nations “The date of 5 September was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.””

More information about the International Day of Charity can be found here on the United Nations website.

You can take part in the International Day of Charity any day of the year just by volunteering or taking part in social action. If you are aged 16 – 17 you can take part in NCS, this is a great opportunity for you to meet new people, have fun and do something good at the same time. My last articles cover what a group of young people in Bridlington did as part of the ERVAS NCS programme. If you would like to sign up to NCS visit

If you’re aged between 16 and 25, and you have a positive message that you want to use to inspire others, then you can take part in Fixers. They will help you do just that, whether it comes from your own personal experiences, or it’s just something you feel passionate about, you can use posters, leaflets, films, stage your own events, or even star in your own music video to get your message across. The best part about Fixers is that they reach every single postcode in the UK and they cover a wide range of topics. To find out more about Fixers visit

There are also a range of other national organizations that you can volunteer for such as Get Connected. Get Connected is the UK’s free, confidential and multi-issue helpline service for young people under 25 who need help, but don’t know where to turn. They are currently looking for people to become digital connectors, you can find out more about this great opportunity on their website here:

If you would like to find a volunteering opportunity near you, you can contact your local Volunteer Centre, they can help you to find volunteer opportunities that are right for you.

If you already volunteer why don’t you share your social action story with the #iwill campaign on twitter @iwill_campaign or make a pledge on their website Or take part in #GivingTuesday (the first Tuesday of December every year)

Check out this video by me, that shows why you should volunteer, it is also available on the Devan Group website

Just say YES! – Part 2

This week I will be following the work of NCS Team 2. NCS is the National Citizen Service and is being run by East Riding Voluntary Action Services – Volunteen Programme within the East Riding area.

Team 2 have chosen to help a day care centre in Bridlington, East Yorkshire. Team 2 will be helping the day care centre by building a ramp for disabled access, tidying up the outside area and polytunnels, building a fence and tidying a brick wall.

The team managed to raise over £200 for their project, by holding a car wash at the Lawns in Cottingham, having a sponsored silence, holding a sponsored bike ride and even waxing some legs!

You can keep up with the teams work by following their Facebook Page here.

If you would like to take part in NCS – National Citizen Service next time head over to to sign up.

Here are some more before photos of the day care centre:

961614_1045271952158725_41270084_n11897197_1045271802158740_1972136580_n 11909595_1045271895492064_356987990_n11911783_1045271848825402_1783988081_n

Just say YES! – Part 1

The NCS Team 2 Reporters (From left to right, Me, Sian, Skye and Kate)

The NCS Team 2 Reporters (From left to right, Me, Sian, Skye and Kate)

So if you have been following my social media you will know that I have been volunteering with the Volunteen NCS – National Citizen Service programme. Over the next couple of days I will be following the work of Team 2.

This will be a series of blogs looking at Team 2’s social action project that is taking place at a daycare centre in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

If you like what you see in this series, and you are aged 16-17 you can sign up to take part in NCS at


NCS Volunteen Workshops

On Thursday & Friday this week I was asked to deliver workshops about bullying & social action as part of the Volunteen NCS programme.

The task I set was for each team to work together to create an anti-bullying advert that can be used to show more young people bullying, and the reasons for someone bullying.

Those who took part in the workshops were really creative and they came up with these adverts.

The adverts can all be seen on my YouTube channel and here:

If you would like to join NCS next time you can find out more about the programme and how to sign up here: