Cain came to FOCUS as a young participant in 2018 and has since been involved in numerous projects, events, and sessions. The journey has seen him become an adult volunteer. We sat down with Cain to learn how that experience has impacted his life.
“Before FOCUS, I had just left college in 2017 and I wasn’t really doing much. My confidence was quite low and I did not have many communication skills. In 2018 I started a course self-development programme with the Prince’s Trust. The aim is to help young people improve teamwork and leadership. The programme helped me work better in a team setting while doing a community project. After Prince’s Trust I was thinking of starting university, but I did not get in that year as I needed to retake my English.
“I first came to FOCUS in 2018. I had found it through Connexions, an organisation that helps young people find employment and volunteering placements. The first evening session was on a Thursday with the Leicestival Project, and it was kind-of mad! I was a bit nervous but at the same time kind of excited; I was trying something new with the activities they were doing. Being part of the culture which Leicestival was all about in terms of being involved with many of the city’s cultural festivals.
“My early memories were attending the festivals like Riverside, Diwali, bonfire night to volunteer and lead community activities. The memory that has stood out most for me was being involved with the START project, a 12-week project that helped to build my confidence. We went to the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre on some days and that was quite challenging. Near the end of the 12 weeks we did a community project where we did some key building tasks at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre (LOPC). It was rewarding because we were doing something that actually helped the business which then could go and help the wider community.
Becoming a Volunteer
“I began volunteering this year (2022) with the Inspire project – a yearlong personal development project for 13-16 year olds that, like other FOCUS projects, aims to help young people build confidence in themselves. Since then, I have been part of numerous projects like Leicestival, START, and our Wooden Spoon allotment. At first I was nervous. It was quite a challenging experience as I was taking on new roles, trying things I had never done before. But I wanted to take the next step in terms of roles and responsibilities, and just be a bigger part of FOCUS. It has been great being able to do more things and help others.
“From volunteering and being part of FOCUS my confidence has improved. I have been able to talk a lot more and found it easier being part of a team, whereas in the past I would have struggled to take the initiative. It has helped me take on a leadership role and be in charge on occasions. It has given me a sense of belonging in the wider community and being part of something – like FOCUS is.
“There are loads of benefits coming to FOCUS. If you are struggling with low confidence and you don’t feel quite there, FOCUS can be a great help. It does challenge you and you do have to push yourself. But at the end you feel great because you realise you can do it and you have achieved something. It brings a lot of fun through its activities and being around other people.
“I am now about to begin university. It is a new challenge and chapter for me; I am excited while and nervous at the same time. I am going to be doing digital technology; I would like a future in IT management.”