JET volunteer Tania Kirkbride

JET volunteer Tania Kirkbride

As part of National Volunteers’ Week 2016, we are profiling just some of our fantastic volunteers and finding out more about how and why they became involved with JET.

Here we meet Tania, a Blue Skies Level 3 Work Skills trainer

How did you hear about JET?

I saw Professor Brian Cox being interviewed at the Great North Run 2015 where he talked about JET and the excellent work the charity does.

What particularly made you volunteer?

I took my elderly parents to my Dad’s squadron reunion where I was inspired by a speech made by the Wing Commander. I thought that if young people were engaging with people like this, it would be a fantastic foundation for them to build upon. Knowing what JET was about, I wanted to be a part of it.

What did you feel you could give to the young people JET supports?

My day job is as a Blended Learning Manager in the public sector, so I have the skills to develop training packages that can meet learning needs in various different ways.

What is your involvement with JET?

I am new to volunteering for JET but so far I have developed and led on delivery of two of the Level 3 Work Skills sessions and have spent much of my spare time designing and preparing for those sessions. I then spent a day at York High School delivering CV Writing and Job Application Skills training and a day at RAF Linton on Ouse delivering interview training. 

I try to keep my sessions engaging and interactive. I really enjoy working with the JET team and the young people on the programme. 

What hurdles have you had to overcome in your life?

I have been fairly lucky not to have had any major hurdles in my life, other than a sudden life-threatening illness 13 years ago.

Who or what helped you to overcome that?

My perspective changed after my brush with death and I realised that life is too short to focus on the negative things in life. I started challenging myself more, worked hard on building my career and made time to do the things I enjoy. If things are getting me down, I try to challenge myself because it can be really rewarding and helps to promote a sense of wellbeing. 

Who or what have you found most inspiring in your life?

I am inspired by creativity from both an artistic perspective and from the perspective of science and technology. There are so many great artists, architects, musicians, scientists, writers, speakers, teachers, film-makers, animators, and actors that inspire me, I couldn’t single out any specific one, but I would probably say that it is the ones who are most passionate about what they do that tend to inspire me the most.

Do you feel affinity with these young people? And if so, in what way?

It doesn’t take much for me to lose my confidence, so I understand how difficult it is to try and build it back up again on your own. I realise that taking on new challenges brings about positive results and helps me feel good about myself. I think that these young people just need to be shown ways to help themselves do just that.

What changes have you seen in the young people as a result of JET?

I have only been with the Level 3 group on two occasions so far, but even from the beginning of a session to the end of it, I have seen a difference in the level of participation and willingness to engage. It was particularly rewarding to see the young people demonstrate what they had learned about interview skills by successfully taking part in mock interviews, passing the interviews, and being able to observe and provide feedback to the whole class.  This is something that most of my colleagues at work would find daunting and difficult, but the young people took it in their stride and did an excellent job.

What plans do you have for future involvement with JET?

Now that I have developed materials for Level 3 of the Blue Skies Programme, I hope continue to deliver it, make improvements and keep on delivering it. Also, because I have had the opportunity to work with the young people and understand their needs better, I would like to look at other ways to help the young people develop through the programme, as well as help other volunteers and the JET team by collaborating, supporting, and sharing materials across the regions.

What does JET mean to you?

JET not only helps inspire young people and build their confidence, it does exactly the same for me by giving me an opportunity to challenge myself and feel like I’m making a difference. Giving my time to help is also helping me to develop and hopefully become a better person.