STARS has grown and developed so much over the past 18 months that it’s been strange for me to reflect on my time here and realise it’s only been 2 years since I started volunteering. I knew when I first met Simone and heard about Dorset Rape Crisis (as it was known then) that this was a charity with ambition, and an amazing team behind it.

I met Simone, STARS Volunteer Coordinator, at Bournemouth University in early 2018 when I worked at the Students’ Union. STARS was the Union’s charity of the year and Simone came over to say hi and see if we wanted to get involved with the charity. She explained she was looking to put a team together to go to events over the summer, with the aim of challenging harmful sexual behaviour and having open discussions with young people around topics such as consent, but in an inviting environment that wouldn’t scare people off.

The Good Vibe Tribe (as Simone called us) was formed, and we took the ‘Consent Tent’ across Dorset, from Bournemouth Gardens for Pride to Lulworth Castle for the 3-day Bestival. Bestival was where we were able to reach the most people as we had a fantastic circus theme, with themed games such as hook-a-duck with different scenarios and a consent-themed strength test, which really engaged young people and in a relaxed environment which made them feel comfortable having open conversations about consent. What was really encouraging was the number of people who would come over with their friends and be comfortable challenging each other’s opinions. This was an amazing experience to be part of and I can’t wait to bring the Consent Tent back soon, with the rest of the Good Vibe Tribe.

After the summer, Simone asked me if I wanted to get more involved with the charity as a Support Line volunteer. This involves giving up a couple of evenings a month to answer calls from people who just need someone to listen to them. After I completed the training, I was partnered with an amazing mentor, Jo, whose support was so important to me through my first several calls, and still is today! Being on the support line has helped me to develop my listening skills and also to really understand more about the challenges that survivors of sexual violence face. It’s been great that the whole team have worked hard to ensure this has continued during a time where people may feel even more isolated and in need of support, even extending the hours the line is active.

Last summer, I heard that STARS was looking for volunteers to put their names forward to be on the Board of Trustees. I was a little hesitant at first as being a trustee is a big responsibility, but I thought about the plans the charity had to grow and decided that it would be an amazing opportunity to be involved with something at that level and help to decide on the strategic direction of the charity. The trustees meet at least once a month and, along with developing the long-term goals of the charity, our main responsibilities are to ensure the charity carries out its purpose in accordance with the law and that funds are used appropriately.

I can honestly say that I am so glad I met Simone that day back in 2018. My journey as a volunteer with STARS has seen me wear several hats and has taken me in so many different directions. I look forward to seeing what’s next!

It really is rewarding knowing that the work that the staff and volunteers do has such a positive impact on the charity’s users. So, if you’re looking for an opportunity to have challenging conversations with strangers about emotive topics, or you can spare 6 hours a month answering calls from people who just want to be listened to, then there really isn’t a better charity to do it for than STARS.

If you would like to become a volunteers for STARS Dorset please click the link here for information on roles available and who to contact. Thank you.