Danika outside the office buildingThis is Danika, our wonderful intern! Danika completes her year-long internship with us this week. We are so sad to see her 'flee the nest', but excited for her future. Danika is originally all the way from Australia, and so has had an interesting year living in the mildly cooler North-East. We interviewed Danika this week to find out what she thought about A Way Out and the voluntary year she has just spent with us. Read on for the interview!
When did you first hear about A Way Out?I'm from Australia and I've wanted to do some missionary work for some time. When I felt it was the right time to go, I felt God call me to England, so I booked tickets and flew here! When I first arrived in England in January 2012, I met a pastor there who used to live in Teesside. As they talked about Teesside, it jumped out right away to me and I knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit. I went to Stockton to visit the church that the pastor used to run. After hearing my story, the church in Stockton recommended that I speak to Jessie, which is the first time I heard about A Way Out! It all went from there, really.
What first drew you to want to volunteer with A Way Out and do the Internship?I met with Jessie first of all and told her my story of why I came to England and what I wanted to do. I was looking to be trained 'on the job' or in an internship. Jessie was surprised, and said they had just begun advertising for the A Way Out Internship, so my visit was perfect timing! I was shown around the building and met the staff. It sounded really good, so I begun the internship!
How long have you been a part of A Way Out now?1 year! The internship has been a year long, and it ends this week.
What sort of activities have you been involved in since you came here?
Youth and Community OutreachI think I've helped on every project over the year! Mostly, I've been working with women and youth client work. I've been supporting drop-ins and been involved in pop-up youth club since the beginning. I've also been involved in Roadshows for colleges, such as alcohol-awareness and have been regularly attending prayer meetings in the prayer room at A Way Out.
What are the key things you feel you have learnt since being a part of A Way Out?
Facepainting for outreach daysI am much more confident in building relationships and repor with people. I've learnt how to run drop-ins and run youth clubs. I feel confident talking to people from youth to vulnerable women and I feel I have built up relationships over the past year. I think I've got to grips with North East culture more quickly too, since working here. It's very different to what I'm used to. I now feel that I am a part of things, and I've 'learnt the lingo'.
Do you have a heart for any of the activities you've been a part of in particular?
What would you say to any future long-term volunteers for A Way Out?You have to be flexible and open minded, because working with different types of people means that things can change, often! You have to be able to do 3 different accents... that's a standard minimum requirement... Finally, you need to have fun to work here. The staff are really fun, and the clients are fun too, even when life is serious and things are difficult for them. It's really enjoyable to engage with people, even in difficult times.
What's next for you after the internship?I've been living on an estate in Thornaby, where I want to stay and be involved with the community there. I want to help the kids club in Thornaby, and I've been starting up a homework club that I want to continue. I want to continue partnering with A Way Out and I might have something to do with the Community Hubs that will be setting up soon. I'm excited to see what God fills the gap with!
Danika and Volunteer Coordinator, KateWe at A Way Out are thrilled that Danika has been such a supportive, long-term volunteer with us over this past year and we are deeply sad that she's moving on to pastures new! Thank you, Danika for all you've done over the past year! Our life-changing work really couldn't continue without the help of our wonderful volunteers. If you would like to volunteer with us here, then get in contact with Kate, our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator. We have plenty of opportunities from just an hour a week, and are sure to find something that will suit you. With love from A Way Out x