A community coming of age

Edward Emond
Head of Youth Engagement
Volunteering

What did you use the internet for way back in 2000? Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…and even MySpace? You would have been more likely to Ask Jeeves than Google, and probably spent a lot of time listening to the dulcet tones of dial-up, and having to disconnect if anyone wanted to use the landline…

Why does any of this matter, you may ask? Well, it was 18 years ago that The Mix’s community launched online. We want to celebrate all our volunteer’s efforts in walking alongside young people – as they work out what they want to do next – whilst also kicking off the 18th birthday party for our community!

A lifeline for young people

Growing up can be a confusing and isolating time. Gaining a sense of self when bodies are changing and hormones are raging is difficult enough, yet it can often feel that you are the only one having these confusing feelings. Our community started because young people wanted to connect with others going through similar experiences. Suddenly, there was a space to engage with a wider network than just those within a few mile radius. The community was a safe and anonymous way to unpick some of the deeper questions people had of themselves, whilst learning from the experience of others who had been in a similar situation.

Over the years, the space has grown, and in many ways, social media started to replicate elements of what communities offered, in opening up people’s world to other experiences. Naturally, our community has developed into a space where people can share and talk through their problems. Whether they are struggling with their mental health, or they don’t know what to do about their relationship, there is a broad view of experiences and opinions on hand for people to tap in to, so they feel less alone. Keeping this kind of space safe healthy is a challenge, with thousands of young people coming through our community each year. It would not be possible without the tireless effort, skill and commitment of our volunteers.

The impact of volunteers: A space developed for young people, by young people.

Over the years, volunteers have gotten involved as moderators, community champions, relationship advisors and workshop participants, to name a few. All our volunteers are united by a commitment to providing the best support to young people, with compassion and understanding at their core.

As a result, our community has always been a space that is ready to respond to the changing needs of young people. Whether that is introducing more live spaces to engage in real time, through our group chats, or consulting our user base on our guidelines and software development, our community members have been at the heart of what we do. This has forged a natural pathway from receiving to giving support, with the vast majority of our volunteers having used the service at some point in the past. We feel it is important that there is a space where people can build upon their own life experiences, whilst giving back to the community that helped them. We know that this model makes a difference, to both members of the community and volunteers:

“After using The Mix myself, I’d like to give back to the community. I want to do whatever I can to help people who are just like me when I was younger” Volunteer moderator

Our 18th Celebrations – we’d love you to be involved

We are planning a number of events throughout the year to celebrate our community coming of age. We are particularly keen to hear from volunteers from days gone by…if you have volunteered in our community in the past, and are interested in finding out more about our plans, please do get in touch by emailing volunteering@themix.org.uk. Irrespective of whether you decide to get in contact, we want to thank the many people who have helped our community become what it is today, and who continue to support our work in moving forward. Your time, effort and commitment is greatly appreciated.

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Published on 01-Jun-2018