Jannis Blog

Volunteering during lockdown and far from home…

Who am I and where am I from?

My name is Jannis Düwel, I’m 21 years old and from Hamelin in Germany (Hamelin is located next to Hannover and is famous for the story of the pied piper).

How did I get involved with North Lanarkshire Befriending Project?

I was always interested in volunteering and did some volunteering work in my hometown. After my school I wanted to go aboard so when I saw the advert for volunteering matters charity on the website of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) I thought that would be a perfect opportunity for me to combine volunteering and collecting some experience in a new country.

What is the project called/what do you do and who benefits?

The project is called North Lanarkshire Befriending Project.

My role on the project is to provide befriending support to young people between the ages of 8-18.

I meet up with my matches either virtually or face to face to go for a walk, playing football or cycling. I think my matches benefit from seeing me in many ways and I hope I can be a role model for them and they can tell me about their challenges. Sometimes it helps a lot to have somebody from outside your inner circle to speak to.

What do I enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy the contact with the young people most and we also have a lot of fun times.

It’s a big cultural learning experience for me and I am very happy about that. I learned a lot of new things already, especially the language and what it means to say “aye” and “wee”. The local accents were quite difficult to understand at first but I’m getting better each week.

What do I feel I’ve learnt so far about Scotland?

Even during lockdown there are new things to learn every day.

From learning that the bus drivers are sometimes grumpy to learning about Scottish culture - trying Haggis (I like it!), the local area including Strathclyde Park and Scottish History – did you know that a real military bear has it’s own statue in Glasgow?!?

What would you say to others about getting involved in a project like this?

I would recommend everybody who is interested in volunteering to get involved in this sort of project. It’s very rewarding to see how engaged my matches are and how they are growing in confidence and trust. You have a lot of nice people supporting you like my supervisor Paul - if you have a problem you’re never really on your own. Besides the great work with the young people there is also a fantastic team spirit in the Project. So far, I can say I have a wonderful time here and it was the right decision to choose this project