Published on
03 June 2019

Most people know the benefits of volunteering. We’ve all heard that you can add skills to your CV, gain confidence, meet new people and make a difference in your community – all by volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about.

Old school clock

If only you had the time, right?

Time is precious. It’s our most valuable resource. And although we all have the same 24 hours in a day, we all use that time differently. We prioritise some things over others, depending on what’s important to us.

And that’s OK.

But sometimes, something (or someone) comes along that inspires you to think differently about how you spend your allotted 24 hours – maybe make some tweaks, some big changes even. Rebekah Nisbet from Aylesbury is one of those inspirations.

Using past challenges for good

When Rebekah was just 18, she made the decision to volunteer some of her precious time to the Buckinghamshire Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), which we run in conjunction with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. By this time, she had already been helping with participation and shaping the service for two years.

This didn’t come from nowhere. Rebekah had been a service user herself, meaning she wanted to use her own personal experiences to help shape the mental health provision in her area. This also meant she was best placed to do just that.

Parents often say it is like she truly understands our pressures and challenges. This alone helps young people, parents and families feel less isolated and ignored. We are very grateful to Rebekah for her commitment to the cause and for all her support.

Emma Harvey

Volunteer Co-ordinator

Rebekah was also a young member of the Article 12 Youth Forum, which helps get young peoples' voices heard when shaping and developing CAMHS. She was even a young ambassador for a seminar in Parliament, influencing a national report on mental health in children and adolescents.

Having an impact on people’s lives

Rebekah’s volunteering role as a CAMHS Groups Support Volunteer means she has helped countless young people and families of children with Autism Spectrum Condition. In particular, she has helped Ben, a Barnardo's Buddy, with his two autism groups. Rebekah’s commitment, combined with her calm and friendly nature, means that Ben can smoothly deliver workshops that best meet the families’ needs.

Rebekah with certificate standing with Barnardo's staff
From left to right: Emma Harvey, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rebekah Nisbet, Carla Paice, Participation Lead, Michelle Kukielka, Assistant Director Children's Services, Bucks.

It’s safe to say then that Rebekah prioritises some serious time and energy to a cause she’s passionate about – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her time commitment, experience, empathy and compassion was recognised recently when she won Marsh Trust’s prestigious Young Volunteer of the Year Award for the South-East and Anglia.

The Marsh Awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of people who are committed to social, cultural and environmental causes, so this was a huge deal for Rebekah and everyone who works alongside her.

Everyone in Barnardo's is delighted that Rebekah has been awarded the Marsh Trust Young Volunteer of the Year. She demonstrates empathy, compassion, care, understanding and sympathy just when it is needed by those seeking it.

Emma Harvey

Volunteer Co-ordinator

Sure, volunteering is about gaining skills and building confidence. But it’s also about all of the people’s lives you affect along the way – from young people and families to other volunteers and colleagues.

Who knows – volunteering some of your 24 hours may mean you inspire others to use their unique skills and experiences to do the same one day.

You might even pick up an award or two.

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To find out how you can use your time to help the most vulnerable children in society, check out how to volunteer with us.