The serial volunteer
Over the last few years, 22 year-old Lucy has been clocking up hours on several volunteering projects, time that has changed her life for ever.
I started volunteering when I was in the sixth form; I joined SVP with a few of my friends and we would spend a couple of lunchtimes a week at a local primary school organising activities for the children and supervising them. It was something different to do; we thought it would be fun and look good on our CVs.
While I was at university my Mum joined a local centre for Riding for the Disabled Association and volunteered as a helper supervising the disabled children and adults. Whenever I went home during the week I would help with the children's session, either supporting a child at the side of a pony or leading a pony. I rode from an early age so I'm very comfortable working with horses and know how to handle them. Being a part of RDA has enabled me to combine my love of animals with my love of working with children.
Nothing quite gives me the buzz and the satisfaction of volunteering. What you don't notice at the time is how much difference it can also make to you. I have watched children at the riding centre as they progress into confident riders - it's nice to know I helped them achieve that. It's amazing how much difference an hour or two a week can make to someone.
I also became involved in the Campaigns Forum at university, and was particularly active in the Student Stop Aids group. This led me onto various one-off voluntary roles. In my third year I heard about a trip to Kenya being organised for July and August of the upcoming summer. The trip involved helping to build a health centre in aid of Widows and Orphans International in association with The Kenyan Orphan Project. Each student going had to raise £500 for the cost of materials for the building. I signed up for the trip with a group of friends. I'd always wanted to go to Kenya as my Dad was born and spent his childhood there and I grew up listening to stories about the country. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to see some of the country, go to the areas that the tourists don't see and do some completely different voluntary work. I also wanted to use some of the Swahili I'd been taught growing up.
The trip to Kenya is something that I'll never forget. Going there, meeting the people, witnessing their generosity and doing something, no matter how small, was such an amazing experience.
The trip to Kenya is something that I'll never forget. Going there, meeting the people, witnessing their generosity and doing something, no matter how small, was such an amazing experience. The harsh reality that the people (particularly the street orphans) have to face is something that I'd never had to contemplate before. It was a very humbling experience and affected everyone on the trip. None of us could really put into words our reactions at seeing the street orphans and the generosity that the widows of a local village had shown us.
Volunteering for me
Since the trip to Kenya I have wanted to do voluntary work that engages me, benefits others and would help further my career. I am now a Moderator for TheSite.org and a volunteer at a local museum. My work at the museum has given me unique opportunities to get marketing, research and design and photography experience.
I am gaining skills and insight into life that, without volunteering, I simply would not have. It's enabled me to do work that I love and that I otherwise wouldn't be able to do as a graduate with limited experience. Volunteering has got me out of the temping rut and the endless routine of applying for jobs that many graduates become trapped in.
From a career perspective voluntary work is a brilliant way of gaining valuable skills and experience, but personally it has shown me different walks of life, given me amazing experiences and provided me with a unique perspective on life. I would not be who I am today without it..
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