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'We couldn't run without volunteers'

Words by Smiley Team

We love hearing about the powerful impact volunteers have on people's lives – helping us to achieve a happier, healthier and more equal society. 

Helena Thomas is one of those people – and she is always keen to spread the message about volunteering far and wide. 

She's a Volunteer Coordinator with Community Leeds After School Study Support (CLASSS), a registered charity that runs English and maths classes for students from lower-income backgrounds. “Perhaps they have parents who speak English as a second language,” says Helena, “or they can’t support them with their homework and studies. The schools they attend may not always be the best for them.”

There's no denying it: CLASSS would not be possible without volunteers. The classes run once a week on a Thursday during term time, and the volunteers support with activities, engage the children in learning, and help improve their education. 

“Kids really enjoy coming,” says Helen, “it’s a really nice atmosphere where people are encouraging learning.” 

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Helena joined in 2019 as a volunteer tutor in an English class – at the time, she was also working as a volunteer coordinator at another charity in Leeds.

In 2021, after the pandemic, there was a call out to restart CLASSS and they needed to recruit a coordinator to support the volunteers. Helena took on the role – she had to recruit a new wave of volunteers, a trustee board, and help get things back up and running. 

“Our volunteers are genuinely lovely people who just want to help out,” she says. “We’re so grateful for everyone’s support, as each volunteer brings their own unique skills and personalities and experiences. We just wouldn’t be able to run without them.”

For Helena, the group is a privilege to be a part of.

“I love kids, they’re amazing, clever and intelligent,” she says. “You can see how much the support helps the children grow in confidence and skills. It’s amazing to see them grow and to know that you’ve helped them. That’s what I love.

“It’s a lovely community of people, too. I want to help the kids, but it really helps me. Every Thursday, I come away feeling so happy. I absolutely love it.”

Inspired to act?

VOLUNTEER: You can volunteer yourself, or share the opportunity with someone who may be interested. Find out more

Find other volunteering opportunities and get inspired by heading to Reach Volunteering

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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