Finishing my GCSEs and about to embark on a three-month summer holiday, I found a position as a volunteer shop assistant in a local charity shop. This gave me something to do as well as some valuable work experience.
I got to choose when I worked and for how long, taking on the role of cashier but also rotating and organising new stock. It was great to have something to put on my CV, when applying for part-time jobs later on, that wasn’t about my academic achievements.
In my final year of sixth form, I volunteered again, taking on the role of volunteer teaching assistant. This involved giving up one to two hours each week to help a year seven maths class. Working with young people is extra rewarding, and giving that little bit of help to someone who would’ve struggled without it creates a wonderful feeling.
As a young person working alongside other young people, I find that you are often seen as more approachable, creating an accessible branch between student and teacher. I remember being in that same position, afraid to admit I didn’t understand something. So to spend a whole hour hopping between tables and helping others understand pie charts, fractions, and sequences quickly became the thing I most looked forward to each week. I was definitely sad to leave at the end of the school year.
Talking to a friend, and fellow volunteer, I asked how she’d found her time volunteering as a boxing coach. It was fascinating to hear her discuss what she’d learnt about herself and her community. She told me she was inspired by the experience, and that was certainly something I could relate to having found my time in the classroom so rewarding.
Coming to university, I wondered how I could carry on volunteering. I could have taken on another role as a charity shop volunteer, but instead I turned to my university. After some searching, and attending my society fair during Freshers’ Week, I found a society called MAD. MAD stands for Making A Difference, and is a society that places emphasis on the importance of volunteering within the community. As a group we volunteer at cat and dog shelters, care homes, hospitals, and help keep the university garden tidy.
Mixing with others who find joy in volunteering has been a wonderful experience. Not everyone has volunteered before, but some have been doing it for years. It is always fascinating to hear others’ stories and bond with those who have similar passions.
If you’re looking for something to do (that isn’t watching Netflix), volunteer. Just go for it. Be a course representative, a charity fundraising event helper, or get involved with your university Nightline service. It is incredibly rewarding, and you never know who you might get to meet.