Volunteer Week Story by Julie Gillis

Julie Gillis – Trustee

During Volunteer Week we asked Julie, one of Eikon’s trustees, to reflect on her 4-year journey with the charity and share some of her experiences of positive impact in the lives of children and young people.

“As a trustee, I have seen the positive impact Eikon has on the lives of children and young people,” Julie shares. “As more children and young people than ever struggle with their emotional wellbeing, helping them at early stage is vital in preventing things getting worse and causing unnecessary harm. This is why I am so passionate about The Eikon Charity.”

Julie’s initial inspiration to get involved with Eikon was deeply personal: “A very close family member struggled with mental wellbeing throughout her teenage years,” she explains. “I felt the system had failed her, and I wanted to support a charity that could make a real difference to young people like her.”

Throughout her time as a trustee, Julie has experienced many rewarding moments, but one aspect that continually moves her is hearing the stories of the young people Eikon supports.

“I feel privileged to hear their stories. I am often moved to tears,” she says.

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Julie Gills

As both the Chair of the Engagement Committee on the board of trustees, and a special needs teaching assistant at the local school where Eikon has its headquarters, Julie witnesses firsthand the charity’s impact on children there. “Every day, I see not just students from the school benefiting from Eikon’s support but also children and young people from elsewhere visiting Eikon for help. Every one of them has a story that has had an impact on me.”

What motivates Julie to continue giving her time, commitment, and experience to Eikon is the increasing number of younger children looking for help and the realisation that many more are in need but cannot access support. “I am motivated by seeing increasing numbers of younger children seeking Eikon’s support and thinking of the others out there who also need support but cannot benefit because there are just not enough resources to go around,” she explains.

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Hurrah for Eikon’s volunteers!

 

When asked what she would say to someone considering volunteering with Eikon, Julie emphasises the invaluable difference volunteers can make. “Trustees have a very privileged role, but those who make the real difference are the volunteers who engage directly with the young people Eikon supports. We have some wonderful volunteers who give their time to work in the Eikon garden and some amazing mentors in schools. Volunteers can make a huge difference whilst benefiting themselves by knowing the impact they are making. Hurrah for Eikon’s volunteers!”

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During Volunteer Week, we want to say thank you not only to Julie, but to all of our Trustees, and all of the volunteers that make a lasting impact on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people in Surrey.

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Get involved

You can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in Surrey.

Whether you want to run a marathon or host a coffee morning, there are lots of different ways you can get involved.

Click on the links below, or contact our friendly team about your next great fundraising idea…

Volunteer for Eikon Get your company involved More ways to support us

Volunteer mentors at Eikon – Mike, Sally & Stephanie

Volunteer mentors at Eikon – a Volunteer Week story

Spanning schools throughout Surrey, a passionate team of Eikon volunteers is transforming the lives of children and young people through mentorship. Among them are Mike, Sally, and Stephanie, three individuals with a common purpose to uplift and empower the next generation.

Mike’s journey with Eikon began back in 2016 in Camberley at The Windle Valley Youth Project, and then continuing after relocating to Godalming in 2019 after learning of Eikon’s presence in schools in and around Guildford, including Kings College. Following earlier volunteering opportunities with The Prince’s Trust, Mike told us that: “Eikon provided an opportunity for me to continue making an impact.”

Sally got involved on the recommendation of another mentor, knowing that her 40 years of work experience and 20 years as a business coach gave her a lot to offer. There was a personal element involved too. She told us: “As a teenager I relied on the Samaritans, so saw it as a great opportunity to give back.”

And for Stephanie, an unexpected webinar flyer from her children’s school first sparked her interest in Eikon’s work. “I researched the charity as I was interested in their mission,” she explains. When Stephanie’s youngest started nursery, she looked again into Eikon’s Volunteer Mentor role – a perfect alignment with her passion for mental health support for children and young people.

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While their introductions all differ, Mike, Sally, and Stephanie now share a dedication to helping children that need our support. Mike recalls mentoring a student grappling with low self-confidence about pursuing a dream car maintenance course. Through role-playing and empowerment, he guided the pupil to overcome fears of making enquiries independently. “The look of pride on his face when he realised he had managed it was priceless. He’ll handle such challenges with ease now,” Mike beams.

For newer mentor Stephanie, the rewards are already profound. “I’ve found it really rewarding to be part of a charity aligning so greatly with my passion for listening to and supporting children and young people,” she shares. And for Sally, she told us: “If I can say one thing that unlocks their confidence or a different angle to something that’s challenging them, I feel very happy.”

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Becoming one of Eikon’s volunteer mentors

Underpinning their efforts is an acute awareness of the modern pressures young people face. Mike notes the challenge at Kings College, situated in an affluent area yet bordering deprivation, where many students feel trapped in generational cycles. Stephanie echoes this, stating, “Today’s world, with increased pressures and less meaningful connection, can be incredibly tough for young people to thrive in.”

Yet, their shared motivation of all three remains firm: “Giving these young people hope, belief in their abilities, and tools for a better life is immensely rewarding. You witness their growth within weeks,” Mike affirms. Stephanie’s drive stems from a desire to “help youth feel heard and equipped to lead happier lives.” Sally encourages others to also get involved: “It’s a genuine opportunity to help our next generation and those children who maybe finding school a struggle. It’s so rewarding helping children move to a better place and to equip them with a perspective that is different.”

All three mentors wholeheartedly encourage others to join Eikon’s vital work across Surrey’s schools. “Do it! You get excellent training and support. You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make – and how great it feels,” Mike enthuses. Stephanie concurs, “I felt welcomed instantly. The staff genuinely care, and being hands-on allows you to directly impact young people who need support most.” And when it comes to training new mentors, Sally told us, “The preparation I was given made me feel very confident to start. The onboarding process sets you up well.”

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Shout out for volunteer mentors!

Through volunteers like Mike, Sally and Stephanie, Eikon is building a vision of hope, resilience, and brighter futures for Surrey’s young people. During Volunteer Week, as always, we want to shout our appreciation for all our volunteers, helping us support the children and young people of Surrey to thrive, and feel safe, heard and supported.

“It’s a genuine opportunity to help our next generation and those children who maybe finding school a struggle. It’s so rewarding helping children move to a better place and to equip them with a perspective that is different.”

Animated thank you words

Get involved

You can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in Surrey.

Whether you want to run a marathon or host a coffee morning, there are lots of different ways you can get involved.

Click on the links below, or contact our friendly team about your next great fundraising idea…

Volunteer for Eikon Get your company involved More ways to support us