The double-edged sword of volunteering

Volunteering is a worthwhile way to spend your time; you’re bettering yourself through acts of charity and helping those in need. But when we help others, we often forget to take care of ourselves, resulting in burnout and other nasties. We have some important strategies to make sure you can still do you and be an awesome volunteer.

 

  • Ask for help

If your friends were asked to describe you, what would they say? You’re generous, would drop everything to help them, support them during a rough time? Helping when asked is admirable, but don’t forget to ask someone to help you.

We are lucky to live in a time where the topic of mental health is not such a taboo subject. Even if you don’t volunteer, having an occasional appointment with a counsellor or psychologist is a good idea. You’re speaking with a professional in a safe space, and therefore have a healthy outlet where you can speak without fear.

 

  • Voice your concerns

Once in a while, you might hear or see something that concerns you about the health and/or wellbeing of your charge. What do you do? Definitely something. During your induction process, you’ll be walked through on what to do if you see or hear something that leaves you slightly unsettled.

 

  • Indulge yourself

Or, in today’s lingo, treat yo’self! Do something you love for yourself because you definitely earned it. Think about the last time you went on a weekend away or had someone else cook for you. What is something you enjoy but haven’t had the time for?

 

  • Say no

You’re not obliged to accept every invitation or do every chore people ask of you. Saying NO is the best way to take care of yourself, and also prioritise. You have people in your life who won’t take you saying ‘no’ personally. Sometimes invitations clash with your volunteering, others you prefer to have a break.

 

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6 Things About Foster Kids You May Not Have Known

Volunteer

6 Things About Foster Kids You May Not Have Known

Foster kids are usually thought of as having it rough. They come from broken homes, move around frequently and this series of events will follow them into adulthood. This stereotype is glaring, leaving little room for facts. We’ll tell you some of the truths about foster kids, good and bad, and hope you go away feeling slightly enlightened (or more sobered) about the subject.

 

  • Success stories do exist

Not all foster children are at a disadvantage when they grow up, despite the stereotype. Some are adopted into their foster families and have a stable, healthy lifestyle. Some foster children have gone on to become carers and caseworkers. Others work in a range of jobs, from baristas and warehouse workers to 9-to-5 office jobs.

 

  • Foster kids do it tough

The Australian government and CREATE, a non-for-profit, estimate that over 70% of foster children were ‘repeat clients’ of the system. The cycle of abuse in families, whether it be physical or otherwise, is hard to break. Hence children reappear in the system after they go back home.

Another disadvantage is not having other basic life skills they need to live comfortably. One example of this is Hayden Frost. In a report by the ABC, he is considered a success story of the system in the fact he has a stable job and a good home. But he doesn’t have a driver’s license because he had nobody to help him.

 

  • There aren’t enough families to go around

In New South Wales, as reported in 2016, there’s an urgent need for at least 660 new carers for the overwhelmed foster system. That way over 300 children could instantly be moved to new homes and therefore to safety.

 

  • They want to be heard

CREATE conducted a survey, known as a ‘report card’, that was distributed to 10,000 children in the foster system across Australia. They were encouraged to make comments, and the children spoke their mind. Some of the comments included:

  • Wanting the freedom to choose their placement home
  • Dissatisfaction with the disruptions that came with moving frequently e.g. settling into home, changing schools etc
  • Wanting contact with siblings, or to be moved into placement together
  • They were treated the same as the biological children in their foster families
  • Warm, supportive and caring homes provided the bulk of ‘good’ placements

 

  • Some are very young

Pregnant women in unfortunate circumstances are tagged by the child protection system during their pregnancies and can be separated from their babies in the hospital. Mothers with a history of drug and alcohol abuse are particularly at risk, as well as women who have no place to live and often sleep on the street. Infants are brought into care straight from the hospital, only a few days old.

 

  • They can go home

Though not often reported, this can happen if the home is deemed safe for the foster child. Sometimes removal is a wake-up call for parents to turn their life around.

 

There’s more to read here;

Love of learning program

Pyjama Angels; how you help kids in foster care

Pyjama Angels; how you help kids in foster care

There’s talk of guardian angels that watch over and protect us during the difficult times in our lives. They aren’t seen or heard but we trust they exist. Pyjama Angels are much like guardians, but they’re definitely seen, heard and appreciated.

 

Qualities of Pyjama Angels

 

Empathetic: Children in care have experienced little kindness or compassion in their short lives. As a Pyjama Angel, it’s your job to be empathetic and understanding. You’re one of few positive presences in your charge’s life who can make a difference. Simply showing up with a smile does wonders.

 

Patient: Kids in care have lower literacy skills. It’s common for them not to feel confident in reading or writing, and they might shut down when it gets difficult. Pyjama Angels don’t force children to read or berate them when they make a mistake. They’re patient and guide their mentee right.

 

Generous: Pyjama Angels are generous with their time. One hour a week might not seem like much, but it makes a world of difference in the long run.

 

Encouraging: Each step forward, no matter how small, is a success. One day you’re encouraging your charge to read along with you. A year later they could be reading books on their own accord, not just because it’s their ‘Angel visit day’.

 

Unfortunately, children in foster care have missed out on their right to a stable, happy family home and a decent start to their education. 92% of young children in care, around 7 years old, have below-average reading skills. 35% of foster children commit crimes and are sentenced to juvenile detention. As a Pyjama Angel, you have the opportunity to stop your charge from becoming one of those statistics. One encouraging statistic is that 84% of children mentored by Angels have a brighter, more positive mood since starting the Love of Learning Program.

A Pyjama Angel helps kids in care by simply showing up. They make reading enjoyable. Education is fun again thanks to games. The children in the program are more likely to read, complete homework and have a more positive outlook on life because their mentor comes once a week. One hour is small. But it makes a big difference.

4 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in The Love of Learning Program

People are raised with the common belief that there is good to be found in everyone. This goodwill is often expressed through charitable acts, from caring for your children to donating time, money, or goods to different causes. One of the causes that might appeal to you is youth mentoring and children’s education. So, why […]

How one-on-one mentoring helps youth combat life obstacles

Mentoring is nothing new. Arthur had Merlin, Cinderella had a fairy godmother, and Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. One-on-one mentoring helped all these characters achieve great things, both in fiction and real life. Pyjama Angels are unsung heroes in daily life, but the impact from their one-on-one mentoring has helped young people rise to the challenge life throws at them.

 

So how does one-on-one mentoring help little kids and young people?

 

Children in foster care have a hard time at school thanks to their circumstances; they can’t pay attention, refuse to interact, or start fights with classmates to name a few problems. This comes from past trauma and generally low self-esteem. Pyjama Angels mentor a young person to help them with their education. This can be something as simple as reading a book.

It’s never too soon to start

Pyjama Angels are a positive influence in their mentee’s life. That one hour a week helps the children cope with school. Thanks to their Pyjama Angel, they’re finishing homework, reading books without being asked, and getting better report cards each term.

 

One-on-one mentoring with a child in foster care sets them up for success in their young adult life. They’re more likely to seek out a good circle of friends over a crowd that is likely to break the rules. Young people who get mentoring early in life are more likely to graduate high school and might even become a mentor themselves as an adult. Their outlook on life is also more positive, mentees grow up to realise that despite their past, they are worthy of a good job, a happy home, and being safe.

 

One-on-one mentoring is challenging for both mentors and their child in the beginning. An important trait in Pyjama Angels is their resilience. They’re empathic, kind, supportive, and also push their mentee, but within reason. Pyjama Angels are screened, trained, and matched with a child in the Love of Learning Program. The first few weeks, if not months, will be challenging because you’re getting to know each other; trust and rapport need to be built. But relationships need time to grow. And who knows? Within a year, mentees might go from hating books to reading three a week!