QUB Psychology graduand receives Diana Award
Jessica Leeming is recognised for her volunteer work with Women's Aid
I was nominated for my Diana Award, as I’ve been a volunteer for Women’s Aid ABCLN since 2014. I’m a passionate advocate for those living with domestic abuse, and I’m a positive role model for children within the service.
With Women’s Aid, I was a peer mentor at the homework club that they ran, where I would give 1-to-1 and group homework support to the children. I then started helping at the Voices group for teenagers, supporting them also, helping them complete the same OCN qualification that I have. I got my Access NI check when I turned 19 years old, allowing me to go out to schools and deliver educational programmes on behalf of Women’s Aid. I help the Women’s Aid staff in any way that I can, and would assist them on trips and days out with the children and young people and help them run courses. In 2019, I stood up on stage in the Braid Centre in Ballymena at a school’s debate event that Women’s Aid put on and I told my story of being a Women’s Aid volunteer, something I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do before volunteering with Women’s Aid.
Volunteering for Women’s Aid is my way of giving back, as Women’s Aid have supported my mum in the past, and I’ve seen first-hand how Women’s Aid services impact people’s lives. I have a passion for helping others, and that’s why I do what I do. With having a psychology degree, I have a better understanding of why people act the way that they do. In turn, this helps me in my volunteering, as hopefully I’ll have a better understanding of why the children within Women’s Aid are thinking or acting in a particular way, allowing me to give them better support that’s more tailored to them.
After graduation, I will be starting a Masters degree in Counselling Studies and Health Communication, and as well as being a Women’s Aid volunteer I also volunteer for Childline, so I definitely plan on keeping myself busy after graduation! Being one of the Northern Ireland recipients for the 2021 Diana Award means everything to me. Helping others is my passion and to be recognised for the work I have been doing over the years is an incredible honour.