I became volunteer because I wanted to give something back. I never realised how much I would get.
I’m a 19 year old law and accountancy student, so not perhaps the most obvious choice for a volunteer at Barretstown! From the moment I arrived it was the most welcoming place in the world and we volunteers had every bit as much fun as the kids.
Every child deserves to have fun, and at first, when they arrive it’s obvious many of them are, or have been, ill. But that is soon forgotten as they become just kids having fun. Because of their experiences, many may not have much confidence, but here they learn to express themselves and within hours you see them transform into kids full of joy, enthusiasm and positivity. There is no sadness around Barretstown. It is the happiest place I’ve ever been to.
You are absolutely knackered at the end of it, and it’s hard work, but as soon as you enter the gates, you enter a magical bubble. Everyone is up for the craic, and you forget what age everyone else is and just let go.
At the end, the kids have tears streaming down their faces with disappointment that it’s over and you can see the impact it has had on them. But it’s the same for the volunteers. I’ve now volunteered five times and it’s by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had.
Kevin Gleeson, Volunteer