December 05, 2023

International Volunteer Day: Lionheart volunteers continue to make a roaring difference

International Volunteers Day is a global occasion where we celebrate the important contributions many individuals make to our society.

At Lionheart Educational Trust, we are incredibly fortunate to have an abundance of committed staff members. Not only do these individuals go above and beyond in their daily duties – ensuring our students receive engaging academic and holistic opportunities – but many also volunteer outside of school, selflessly sacrificing their own time to further enrich the lives of young people.

Kris Cross – Army Cadet Force volunteer

Among these individuals is Kris Cross. By day, Mr Cross leads the Holistic Development Programme for Lionheart’s Humphrey Perkins School in Barrow upon Soar. Outside of that important role, however, Kris volunteers for the Army Cadet Force (ACF), a national youth organisation that aims to equip young people with key, Army-based transferable skills; courage, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty.

Having joined the Cadets as a teenager, Kris experienced first-hand the incredible impact the ACF has on young people.

“The Army Cadet Force brought me a sense of belonging and purpose and helped me develop many skills for life. It helped to develop my confidence and inspired me to achieve and develop my leadership skills,” he explains.

Consequently, after his own Cadets participation concluded, Kris continued to volunteer for the organisation; sacrificing his time to ensure those currently participating can fully benefit. He has even set up his own Army Cadet Detachment at Humphrey Perkins. The scheme remains incredibly popular, with over 50 students currently benefiting from Kris’ 30-year experience with the ACF. Participants enjoy strengthening their teamwork and leadership skills, characteristics they then transfer to the classroom. 

“The ACF not only offers inclusive activities that are military themed, but it also provides experiences and qualifications that are recognised in the wider working world, such as community service, BTEC qualifications, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, First Aid and much, much more! Simply put, the Army Cadet Force helps to develop young people to be the very best they can be!” 

This month, Kris has been rewarded for his years of voluntary commitment, having been named Army Cadets National Command Sergeant Major Instructor. Alongside his daily role at Humphrey Perkins, Kris will now assist with the leadership of the entire ACF in the UK, supporting 1600 units consisting of 9500 adult volunteers and 41,000 Cadets across the country. He is the first non-regular serving individual to be awarded this prestigious honour.

“I am honoured to take up this role and look forward to making an even bigger impact across the UK, ensuring young people continue to benefit from such rewarding experiences that come with being part of the Army Cadet Force.”

Nafeesa Katib – Cricket coach volunteer

Another Lionheart staff member who frequently volunteers outside of school is Nafeesa Katib of Beauchamp College in Oadby.

Alongside her role as an Emotional Learning Support Assistant, Nafeesa is an England Cricket Board-qualified cricket coach for Leicestershire County Cricket.

Each week, Nafeesa volunteers as part of the Chance to Shine programme, a national charity that uses cricket as a medium to heighten children’s learning and development. Every year, dedicated coaches – like Nafeesa – support nearly 600,000 children by strengthening their social and physical skills.

Nafeesa first ventured into the world of cricket coaching in 2017, as part of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, which encouraged more females to participate in sport.

“Growing up in Pakistan, I was told that sport was just for men and girls had no place in sports,” she explains.

“I didn't want my children to think that their mum is just a housewife, therefore I have always gone out to try something different by challenging myself to achieve my goals in life.”

After close to six years volunteering on the Chance to Shine programme, last month Nafeesa was presented with the highly-coveted ‘Street Coach of the Year’ accolade to celebrate her selfless contribution to the local community. This is awarded to an outstanding mentor and role model who supports the personal, social and mental wellbeing of the children whilst also improving their cricket skills through enjoyable and innovative sessions.

A spokesperson for Chance to Shine noted: “She has demonstrated unparalleled commitment and passion.

“Leading a diverse Youth session, Nafeesa’s dedication increased participation to 76 young people in 2022-23,” they continued.

“She goes beyond cricket, [though], contributing to mental health awareness and extending cricket opportunities in her community.”


We are incredibly proud of both Kris and Nafeesa, two individuals who not only do sterling work at their respective schools, but whose voluntary efforts have gone a long way to supporting the holistic development of young people around Leicestershire and beyond.