Erin Gillen

What was your experience in sport growing up?

As a younger child I didn’t have the opportunity to take part in sport because we couldn’t afford it. So my first experience of sport was through school where I played for the school netball team and found my love for athletics. I competed in throws and then started my coaching pathway for both netball and athletics and was then able, at that point, to join my local athletics club Springburn Harriers and I have been there ever since.

What is your volunteering experience to date?

I first started volunteering when I was 15 and created an athletics club in my school within my capacity as a young leader. From there I went onto volunteer at my local running club Springburn Harriers where I built on my coaching qualifications from level one coaching assistant to now level two coach for the u11s and their youngest committee member.

Along side this I volunteered at my local sport’s development classes for netball and went onto gain my level one coaching badge there as-well. My volunteering roles started to expand and I became a Young Ambassador. After a successful year of enhancing sport in our school and local community I then went onto become part of the  Young Ambassador Conference Delivery Team where I traveled Scotland delivering conferences to the next cohort of YA’s.

After my experience working with on the YACDT I wanted to continue my journey and applied to become part of the Young People’s Sports Panel. I was successful and had the most incredible two years influencing Scottish sport. My main focus on the YPSP was women and girls in sport and after my duration on the panel I had the opportunity to volunteer as a FFG tutor. In this role I’m able to help motivate and inspire more females to participate in sport and physical activity by sharing key consultation tools and building on lived experiences. Along with this I became part of the project team in sportscotland for the YPSP where I volunteered to work along side staff to help mentor the young people and shape the journey for the 5th generation of the panel.

Through my experiences working with YA and YPSP I went onto volunteer with scottishathletics to create and lead their first ever Young Peoples Forum (YPF). With the forum we have been able to recruit 15 young people from across Scotland to come together and focus on bettering mental health and retention of young people in athletics. Now a year on from the creation of the YPF we have partnered with Athletics Trust Scotland, made changes within local clubs, created two national surveys, delivered workshops at the national club conference, created partnerships with SAMH, influenced branding changes for run jump throw, and are now working to facilitate our very one young people conference in March. 

What inspired you to get into volunteering?

I have to put it down to my PE teachers and Active School’s Coordinator. They could see how much I loved sport and knew I’d be keen to get involved in anyway I could. I am so grateful that they gave me that initial push because I couldn’t imagine my life without volunteering now. 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I’m not the greatest athlete but my love for sport comes from volunteering. I’m able to meet so many amazing individuals, teach new skills, make changes to sport and overall give back to the communities/organisations that have helped me grow and motivated me throughout my high school and university journey. 

Have you had to overcome any challenges or barriers whilst volunteering?

Volunteers are one of the vehicles that keep sport going. I have been fortunate in my journey to always feel valued within different roles. However, the main challenge I would say for me would be time. I love volunteering but I need to make sure I’m prioritising my education along side my passions.  

What advice would you give to others looking to get involved in volunteering?

Simply give it a bash! Try different roles whether that be coaching, officiating, event organising etc and see what sticks. It’s such a rewarding experience, that might even spark future career aspirations. I can promise that you won’t regret it. 

Date published: 14 July 2023
Date updated: 14 July 2023


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