University/ College: University of Southampton
What are you studying? Politics PhD
During my undergraduate degree I was actively engaged in the Student’s Union as a faculty rep and as president of two student societies (Philosophy Society and the Light Operatic Society). During my MSc year, I was a project leader for READ International at Southampton University. From the start of my PhD I have been involved in numerous project as a volunteer: I continued to run the Light Operatic Society, and organised a ‘citizenship day’ for local year 10 pupils. Currently I am the chair of the Student Impact Committee, a national committee of student volunteers whose primary objective, this year, is to organise the national student volunteering conference: IMPACT 2012.
Throughout my studies I have continued to volunteer for a tall ship sailing charity, The Jubilee Sailing Trust. When I first began to volunteer I was always looking for things to do in my spare time: I first volunteered at Rutland Sailability, a charity which caters for physically- and mentally-handicapped people. I discovered the group when I started sailing in 2000. Intrigued, I decided to go along to see if this could be something to fill my free time. That first experienced showed me what a difference volunteering could make to someone’s life. I therefore wanted to continue helping people but also work to help people to volunteer.
As time has passed I still want to volunteer where I can help but as time has gone on I have seen that volunteering does not always have positive outcomes (i.e. it can perpetuate social problems rather than be a solution). Therefore, I have been interested in finding out how I can be involved in those kinds of debates which is why in recent years I have volunteered for national organisations. However, I recently I have applied to become an appropriate adult for youth charity Catch 22 and am looking into becoming a school governor.
Volunteering has truly helped me develop personally in loads of different areas of my life. Time management skills; the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds and people who have physical/mental disabilities; empathy; friends; contacts (e.g. people who could give me a reference); insight into what I am good at and what I am not; an idea as to
what I want to do with the rest of my life. Having volunteering on your CV is a positive thing and I think it will help me to
get a job in the future because I want to work in the voluntary sector and I have had a broad range of experiences in this sector because of my
The main challenges have been time management and learning how to say no when you have too many commitments. At first it feels like you are letting people down by saying no but in the end you are letting them down more if you fail to commit to the time you said you could give. I think I am still learning this lesson!
The advice that I would give to people wanting to volunteer is:
1. Don’t let anyone tell you something is impossible, if you have the time and energy more often than not it can be done.
2. Always ask if you’re unsure about anything and if you don’t feel secure or happy in a voluntary placement you need to make sure you talk to
someone about it and get advice.
3. Be clear about how much time you can commit.