Mexican-born Alexa De La Fuente Tamoya said: “I have learnt so much about myself and helped others in the process.”
Alexa, 18, who has just finished high school, is half way through her 12-month placement volunteering for Blackburn-based homeless charity Nightsafe.
During her gap year, she has been supporting both the Night Shelter and the Witton Project. She explains: “I’ve helped people from all different backgrounds – some have left hostile homes, had problems with drugs or relationship issues. We try to make them feel better so they can have a fresh start and move forward. My aim is to make a positive change to their lives.
“I have learnt so much, and I am more independent and open minded now. I now know how important it is to be kind and willing to help, because you never know what people are going through.”
Alexa’s placement was made possible through the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) who were looking for people to volunteer around the world.
I’ve learnt that a smile can change someone’s day. I will never take my life for granted again.
She explains: “I got involved because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. I wanted to do something where I could grow personally as well as give back to the community.
“My responsibilities include buying food, cleaning, talking to young people, playing games and boosting their morale.”
Despite being over 5,000 miles from home, Alexa said she would strongly advise others to sign up for a volunteering placement.
“It is hard being away from home, but the experience is worth it. I have learnt so much about myself and helped others in the process. I’ve worked with amazing people and developed my English skills even further.
“I am so grateful to the team at Nightsafe for giving me this opportunity and being so supportive. They have made my experience so enjoyable.
“I’ve learnt that a smile can change someone’s day. I will never take my life for granted again.”
Without the help of our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Thank you to all our #NightsafeHeroes.