My name is Kirsten and I am the head youth volunteer for the Aberdeen Police Scotland Youth Volunteers.
Prior to Covid-19, our PSYY group played an active role in the community, supporting various charities and volunteering at a variety of events. We also met weekly where we would work on different topics, including health and wellbeing.
As a result of the pandemic and lockdown we had to stop our sessions and could not do any volunteering. Covid-19 has had a massive impact on my mental and physical health – I have struggled with anxiety which affected my confidence around other people and meant that I couldn’t even leave my house. Even going out for a walk made me really nervous and anxious.
I have missed everything during lockdown. I am currently in S6 which meant that this year was really important as it was my last year at school. Virtual learning was interesting and enjoyable but I missed the normal routine of being in school and being with my friends.
I am also a season ticket holder for Aberdeen FC at Pittodrie and would never miss a home game. But since lockdown supporters haven’t been allowed which makes me really sad as games would usually be the highlight of my weekend.
I have also missed the volunteering and weekly meetings with PSYV Aberdeen as it is something really important to me. I love volunteering with the group at events as I really feel part of the community. I have also really missed my family during the lockdown as we were unable to see them for a long period of time but we all made sure that we keep in good contact through video calls.
It has taken a long time and a lot of support from my friends, family and also my PSYV family but eventually I have built my confidence back up and slowly I started going outside and doing normal everyday things.
Part of my role as head youth volunteer means I have additional responsibility in the group, and am also the head of the fundraising group supported by my mum who recently became an adult volunteer.
During lockdown we kept busy making sweet cups, sweet bouquets and gift hampers, selling them online to raise £1,315 for our group. We also held online raffles too. Keeping busy and feeling like I was doing something positive was a big help to my mental health and boosted my confidence too.
When lockdown restrictions were eased, PSYV was able to return to weekly meeting with restrictions in place, however, we were unable to do volunteering due to cancelled events. I was really happy to see everyone and return to a bit of normality. Group coordinator, PC Gillies, has been really supportive to all youth and adult members throughout the pandemic and has gone above and beyond to support us all individually. Without the support of PSYV I wouldn’t be the person that I am today – not just during this hard year but in previous years too. PSYV is like family to me and I feel like I am part of something really positive and worthwhile.
Going forward I would like to finish school and hopefully have a career in the police. I will continue to be an active member of PSYV and urge my peers to think about being part of a voluntary organisation. I know I am not alone in my struggles in 2020 and I know that 2021 might be just as difficult, but when you are enthusiastic and part of something amazing it really does help to give you the drive to continue.