JASMINE Gohil is not your typical teenager — instead of going out with her friends she has spent the past six months caring for a paralysed woman in Luton.

The 19-year-old from Higher Croft, Blackburn, has been helpng Barbara to live independently in her own home through the charity Community Services Volunteers (CSV).

Since October she has been living with the pensioner, who was left paralysed from the neck down after a car accident involving a fire engine in 1976.

Barbara is unable to move anything apart from her head and neck, so Jasmine and two other carers help her with everything from washing, feeding, cleaning and shopping.

“It is a 24/7 job and is extremely demanding but it is very worthwhile and I honestly love every second of it," said Jasmine.

"I did find it a bit overwhelming when I first started. I guess it was a bit of a shock but after a month or so I soon got used to the routine.

“My jobs vary from preparing meals, daily washing and bathing, dressing and domestic chores. The hardest part is getting up in the middle of the night if she isn’t sleeping well but luckily that doesn’t happen that much,” said the teenager, who worked through both Christmas and New Year.

Jasmine decided to volunteer to broaden her life experience after completing a National Diploma in Animal Management at Myerscough College.

But she is no stranger to charity, having carried out voluntary work since the age of seven and raised thousands of pounds for UK and global charities.

The former Darwen Vale High School student says that helping others is in her blood, with both her parents regularly volunteering with different organisations.

And Jasmine was actually inspired to volunteer with CSV by her mother, an endoscopy nurse who volunteered with the charity when she was a teenager.

She said: “I’ve been brought up doing voluntary work so for me it would seem strange not to do it.”

The trip to Luton is her first time away from Blackburn but she believes voluntary work is just as beneficial close to home as it is on the other side of the globe.

She added: “It has been an interesting transition, though scary at first. I have settled in really quickly and have met lovely people who took me on as a sister.

"I don’t think you have to travel far to do voluntary work. There is so much that we can do to help on our doorstep. Every bit helps.”

And Jasmine says she gets the most enjoyment in her life from helping others.

She added: “It is fantastic to see how just helping out for a few hours makes such a difference to her life. The experience has also helped me to mature and see life from different perspectives.”

At the end of her six month stint in Luton at the end of this week, Jasmine will return to Blackburn where she will once again volunteer at children’s charity Barnardo’s.

“Everyone should volunteer, no matter for how long,” she said.

“You’re helping to change someone’s life and you might just change your own in the process."

Inspired by Jasmine? Here’s how you can become a volunteer with CSV

  • You must be aged between 18 to 35 years old
  • Fill out an online application form at www.csv.org.uk/gapyear
  • You will then be contacted by a CSV team member who will chat through the opportunities available
  • You will then be called up for an interview and to see a presentation
  • References are requested and then volunteers are matched, as appropriate, with a project in need of their help.
  • Volunteers receive support from a volunteer manager throughout their placement.
  • Placements include supporting the homeless, socially excluded, disabled and elderly people
  • Volunteers can start their 6-12 month placement at any time during the year.
  • For more information call 0800 374 991 or visit the website www.csv.org.uk/gapyear