Top six moments of My City Year Journey: Holly O’Shea

Posted on the 5th June 2018

City Year UK is a youth social action charity which challenges 18 to 25-year-olds to tackle educational inequality through a year of full-time voluntary service. As mentors, tutors and role models in schools, they support pupils growing up in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK.

1. Winning over one of my focus list pupils

At the start of the year, one of my students refused to speak to me, she had a lot of attitude and didn’t enjoy school. I tried really hard to get her to connect with me but she was a closed book for the majority of half term one. It wasn’t until she stormed out of English and I followed her to check she was okay that she could finally see that I wasn’t going to give up on her. After that day she completely changed with me, when I walked into a class her face would light up and would even make sure that I came over to sit with her!

2. Team Day

Just after Christmas, every team goes for a day out together on a Friday for a little bonding time. Some teams went out for a meal, bowling or to a trampoline park so naturally our Impact Officer (volunteer line manager) had an action-packed day awaiting us. I didn’t think I would take laser tag seriously but we all ended up rolling on the floor, ducking and firing shots left, right and centre. Next up was go-karting and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. My favourite part was that one of our team was quite nervous and all of us made such an effort to drive slowly around her. No matter how competitive we are, our team always comes first.

Holly and the team out go-karting.

Holly and her team out go-karting.

    3. Focus list progress!

    Each term we review our focus list process so far, we report on attendance, behaviour points and academic results. While completing mine this term I realised just how far my kids have come and the year isn’t even over. I honestly couldn’t be more proud; their success brings so much joy to my day!

    4. Christmas Cards

    I decided to get all of my kids Christmas cards with a positive note inside saying how proud I was of them. I was a little bit nervous to give them out as my focus list are 14-15 years old and predominately male, but it could not have gone better. One of them wouldn’t even open it at school because he was so worried about bending it. Seeing how happy I’d made them is something I will never forget.

    5. When one of my kids left a note in my planner

    I got a new work planner and left it on the desk next to one of my pupils as it was empty. The bell went and it was half term (woo!). It wasn’t until I was in the car going home that I opened my planner to see this on the first page:

    'Miss is the best' message left for Holly by a student.

    'Miss is the best' message left for Holly by a student.

    6. My team

    Finally is my team, second family and fellow ‘red jacket people’ (as we were called continuously for nearly 3 months by a year 7 pupil). I can’t even put into words how much the support of my team has meant to me. They are some of the funniest and most caring people I’ve ever met and never fail to put a smile on my face (even in the morning). We have an appreciation box to put in anonymous notes and celebrate each other each term, the kindness of my City Year squad knows no bounds. Things are not always sunshine and rainbows during the year, you go through some tough times but having your team right by your side can make a world of difference.

    Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! For more information on volunteering with us check out our website, email us or follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

    Holly and the 'red jacket people' outside the school.

    Holly and the 'red jacket people' outside the school.

    Holly O’Shea


    Holly has been a volunteer with City Year UK since August 2017.

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