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Holly Powell Jones

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University/ College: Goldsmiths University of London 
What are you studying? Masters in Radio Broadcasting
(Before that a BA in Drama at Royal Holloway University) 

Amongst other things I love volunteering, radio and broadcasting, drama and theatre, lively debates and food! As a student I have volunteered as all kinds of things; from admin assistance, to running drama workshops, painting local youth centres, gardening for hospitals, teaching English abroad in Morocco, Victim Support counselling, marketing and publicity for theatre, and even as a television presenter.

I didn’t do much volunteering before I started university, I just helped out with open evenings at Sixth Form and things like that. I started to meet new people mostly, but I also wanted to gain experience of life ‘outside the uni bubble’. I soon learnt that my volunteering experience was improving my employability, 

and so began volunteering more in the areas that I was interested in having a career in. Quite simply I have gained a rich, diverse and more interesting life from volunteering. I’ve met some amazing people and learned that I can make a difference. I’ve also overcome challenges and achieved things through
volunteering that I never thought I could, which makes me more confident for the future.

Without a doubt I am more employable I wouldn’t be where I am now without volunteering. Volunteering has given me plenty of ‘scenarios’ to talk about during interviews that can demonstrate skills and ability. For example doing Victim Support phone counselling has helped my communication skills and experience of interacting with people from different backgrounds. Media is a hugely competitive industry that you can’t get into without experience. Volunteering as an interviewer and presenter for Vinspired and as a producer
for the Media Trust’s Community Channel gave me that experience. I then got to meet people who had great connections in the industry, who offered me further opportunities. I also think that from an employer’s perspective, they likepeople with volunteering experience, as it proves they are passionate and interested in an industry. 

I know that I have made a difference to people’s lives. Mainly because if you’re a volunteer, they tell you! I think the most help I’ve been able to give has been the simplest: Making a lesson more exciting, getting a good cause more publicity, being there for those who need someone to listen and talk to. Being able to help people is not a specialist talent; it’s something everyone is able to do. ‘Volunteers’ are just the people who will make the time to do it.

Volunteering abroad in Morocco was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had culture shock; I was homesick; I had no teaching experience and was running classes by myself. I felt totally out of my depth. I overcame that by focusing on my pupils. I loved the kids in my class, and I knew that they loved
my lessons, so I concentrated on that and kept going. Eventually it got easier and I even began to really enjoy it. In the end I was proud for staying committed, and it built my confidence for future challenges.

The Vinspired National Awards 2011 was easily one of the best nights of my life. I was television presenting and interviewing all the guests in the press area throughout the night. The best thing was, although it was glamorous and full of celebrities, the event was all about celebrating young volunteers who’ve done amazing things. The people I met and the stories I heard were inspiring and I felt so privileged to be there. I would recommend getting involved with the Vinspired Awards to everyone; it’s a brilliant night!

100% Give it a go is the thing I would tell anyone even potentially interested in volunteering. Firstly, you will develop interests, passions and friends outside of just work or studies and that’s really important. Secondly, you will gain experience through volunteering which equip you with essential skills, not just for employment, but also for life. Thirdly, you will make a difference, either in society, in your community, or even to one single person. But it still creates a change for the better and if you can do that, it’s a great thing to do. Above all, people who have volunteered seem to have built up a natural confidence, a sense of purpose and an idea of what’s really important. Volunteering may just be the thing that helps you discover your calling in life and for that reason alone, it’s worth trying!

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