Petrica is a mum of 2 teenage boys who has lived in the area the whole of her life. After thinking about volunteering for years, she took the plunge on New Year’s Day, 2010. Here’s her story:

My motivation for getting into volunteering was the desire to do something different for myself, as my children were getting older. I got in touch with the Volunteer Centre for a chat and they put me in touch with a mentoring project that seemed ideal.

As a volunteer mentor, I met individually with a couple of young people whilst they were at school. When I first started working with them these young people were in danger of dropping out of school but with my weekly input both managed to complete their GCSEs and go onto college, which made me feel incredibly proud.

Being a volunteer has been a real game changer for me and changed me profoundly. Before I started volunteering I was quite anxious, unsure of what I had to offer other people. But when I gave it a go, it helped me see a number of valuable skills I had, and because of that I’ve met different people from all walks of life and actually ended up going back to work, and then set up my own company, neither of which I’d really considered.

In addition, the skills I gained through mentoring meant that when my children got older and wanted to get into athletics, I was able to volunteer as an assistant coach, working with large groups of young people.

My positive experience volunteering has also inspired me to sign up, through BBC Radio 1’s #1millionhours campaign, to pledge some of my time to help a couple of charities.

Through one small decision to volunteer, I’ve gained so much confidence and ended up doing things I wouldn’t have thought possible.

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