After leaving my full-time employment following the birth of my second son, I threw myself into changing nappies, numerous play dates and cherishing every moment I could. Fast forward 4 years and my son was on the brink of starting school and I was asking myself what's next? I had spent some time volunteering at a local children's club and I started to seriously consider how to re-establish myself in the workplace.

My previous employment had seen long inflexible hours, which was no longer an option with a young family. Looking for meaningful work seemed a daunting prospect, and I felt overwhelmed with all the different options. I decided that volunteering would be an amazing decision which would allow me to adjust to a regular schedule, build my confidence and refresh my office skills. My next decision was where to volunteer? There are so many worthwhile organisations but I really wanted my time to count. I was excited to discover STARS, I had previously worked with Sexual Abuse Investigations and it was a subject that I felt passionate about.

In January 2019, I began my volunteering journey at STARS. At this point I didn't know where it would lead me but I knew that I had found an office role which interested me and I thought that was a great start.

I remember feeling apprehensive on my first day but I was immediately greeted with warm welcomes and smiles; making me feel at ease straight away. I wasn't sure what to expect and I had an initial concern that I may be spending my days shredding paper. I didn't need to worry about this at all; I felt like a valued part of the team right from the start. The hours were flexible, I updated my skills and most importantly I really enjoyed it.

It was clear from the beginning that I had stepped foot into a charity which was at a really exciting period. The charity was in the process of changing its name and logo from Dorset Rape Crisis to STARS Dorset, funding had become available for a much needed male Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA), and STARS was expanding so much that we needed a larger premises. It was - and still is - a really dynamic time. Continuously growing, changing and improving to enable every sexual abuse survivor the support they need and deserve. And that's what makes STARS so special, everything is passionately done to improve the service and support offered to each and every client.

Prior to volunteering at STARS, I had not heard of the ISVA service but it wasn't long before I became interested in their important role. When a part time position was advertised in July 2019, I decided to apply. I was initially nervous about applying, but I felt that my previous background and personality complemented the job. I was excited at the prospect of being a staff member at STARS and to be employed in a role which made such a difference to the lives of many; I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't ignore. In September 2019, I became a CYP ISVA (Children & Young People’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) and I am so grateful to be able to contribute to such a caring and inspirational charity.

My volunteering experience has definitely been positive and I would say to anyone considering volunteering that you never regret donating your time to 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.