I am encouraging young people living in the UK to volunteer with CSV (Community Service Volunteers) to gain key skills for employment, like I did.
I volunteered to support a disabled student at the University of Southampton for six months. It even helped me get my first job for the Labour Party.
Volunteering gave me every imaginable life skill, from learning how to cook to managing my time and finances. The experience changed my life for the better. It gave me time to think about the world and helped me realise I wanted to make it a better place.
I knew what I didn’t want to do – carry on living with my parents, during my teenage years, without a job. Through volunteering I was able to find the right path.
Volunteering with CSV gives young people direction and focus. After completing their gap year, many go on to pursue careers in nursing, social care, teaching and other professions.
For more information about gap year volunteering for people aged 18 to 35, call 0800 374 991 or visit www.csv.org.uk/gapyear.
(MP for West Bromwich East)