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Why You Should Consider Volunteering

Written by Rebecca Thorne

19 to 25 February 2018 was Student Volunteering Week. So, I thought I’d talk about my experiences volunteering and why I think it’s something you should get involved in, particularly if you’re a student.

Being a student can be an extremely busy experience, this is especially the case if you have a disability, as things can often take longer. It’s very easy to focus solely on studies and miss out on other things.

Volunteering is particularly important for students, because most students are probably putting all that love in to their studies because they want to be able to work afterwards. But employers aren’t just interested in your qualifications, they’re interested in experience, which is where volunteering comes in.

Students may feel like they’re too busy. However, while volunteering can take up a lot of time if you want it to, it doesn’t have to.

I’ve volunteered for The Aidis Trust, helping out with this blog for a year and a half now. Generally, I don’t spend any more than a couple of hours a week doing blog related stuff. I work from home, in my own time, which means I can do things around my own schedule.

Another thing I do to make sure that things get done for both The Aidis Trust and college, is that when I have holidays, I’ll start planning content for the half term ahead. This includes things such as: finding out about any seasonal events such as awareness weeks that may be coming up; researching and often times writing some of the content, so that if I’m ever really busy there’s something ready to go and interviewing people for projects such as Disabled Voices Online and Everyone can Game.

Alternatively, a good time to volunteer as a student, is over the summer. This doesn’t mean that volunteering has to take over your entire summer, but a day a week or all week for one week, are good ways to get some volunteering in.

It’s also a really good way to stop you becoming bored and help you feel good. I did some really interesting voluntary work last summer, where I was helping out with projects to support children and young people in the local area. Not only did it give me great experience, but it was also really good fun.

It helped me to enjoy the rest of my holiday, as I had something regular to keep me busy one or two days of the week. This helped me to engage better in more solitary activities like the novel I’d written and was trying to edit, because I knew that I’d be getting out to do some stuff in the community at least one day most weeks.

Volunteering can form a very important part of work experience and can be really beneficial in helping you work out what you do or don’t enjoy doing. I’ve always loved writing and storytelling, but for many years that had always been fiction or poetry. It wasn’t until I started writing non-fiction on a regular basis and having it published online, that I realised how much I enjoy that as well. Fiction will probably always be my favourite written form, but the more non-fiction I write the more I love it.

I also didn’t know how much I’d enjoy interviewing. I have come to really enjoy asking people questions to help tell their story, in an interview-based scenario. I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised, as I’m a very talkative person.

In the same vein, the work I did with children and young people last summer really educated me about roles and services in the sector that I genuinely didn’t know existed. I knew I liked working with children and young people because I’d done it before, but working in a different area educated me about the range of roles and services available in the industry. I personally have found work experience and volunteering to be very educational.

But aside from being very educational and good for career planning, volunteering can be fun. I have had many roles and for the most part enjoyed them immensely. I have met some great people, done some cool stuff and helped people in ways that I hope that have had a positive impact on their lives. The world can be a very tough place at times, but we’re all stuck on this planet together and helping each other is something very nice we can do for each other.