How data inputting and conforming to changing NHS guidelines meant I could help keep grassroots football going

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Grace Etheredge talks about volunteering in data science to support her law degree

Leckhampton Rovers Football Club is a grassroots football club for children aged 5 – 18 and adults. The Club has over 30 teams, each with over 11 members. During the pandemic I took on the responsibility of ensuring data collection adhered to new Covid-19 rules.

I set up a system to manage the submission of each team’s attendance and sanitation data, in line with Government and NHS Guidance. This information was gathered so that, in the event of a Covid case being reported, teams would be able to identify possible contacts and seek medical advice.

I kept up to date with the changes in Government guidance on Covid and managed the designated email address for such submissions, logging the information on a spreadsheet, in accordance with GDPR.

In the event of a Covid case being reported, I would correspond with coaches and parents to inform them of the Government guidance, explore possible responses, and point them in the direction of medical help or equipment.

My volunteering directly assisted the organisation as it meant that the Club’s trustees and coaches could resume their roles, safe in the knowledge that I was monitoring their compliance with FA and Government guidelines.

This had a crucial impact on the Club as it meant that the coaches had a clear and centralised contact for any Covid-related issue, they could concentrate on playing football, and the hundreds of children could return to their training sessions and matches. This was especially important when restrictions meant that organised sport was the only sport some children could engage in.

The skills I have developed assist me in my work as a law student. This is because of the continued importance of self-discipline and attention to detail.I improved my time management skills as I balanced these responsibilities alongside my university work and other extra-curricular commitments. I developed the confidence to email coaches and inform them that they needed to get better at complying with the Club’s procedures. The experience has been particularly useful in my developing career as a barrister when communication, time management and self-motivation are key.

When I received a call from a coach regarding a Covid-contact, I learnt to remain calm under pressure, ask questions to ascertain the key information, and draw upon the most relevant Government guidance. I became adept at typing this up in a succinct way and highlighting the crucial sources.

Grassroots football is very important to my family and community, and it was very rewarding to be able to support its revival throughout the pandemic.

I want to make women feel empowered, to let them know they aren’t alone

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Law and Criminology student has used her volunteering experiences to help direct her career pathway

I work part time and study Law with Criminology at UWE, but I make the time to commit 1 day a week to supporting and helping victims of sexual abuse. For 2.5 hours once a week, I volunteer on a helpline.

Survivors of sexual abuse, recent or historic, call the helpline and talk to me for up to 40 minutes. The reasons for the call hugely vary. The majority of the calls I handle are offering survivors who are currently struggling some emotional support, such as talking about what has happened to them. Many of them have never spoke about it to anyone before. I talk about their feelings, and together we find ways they can cope.

I help survivors who are confused about what’s happened to them, advising survivors of recent sexual abuse on what to do, referring people and taking their details for counselling and safeguarding survivors who may be in danger, both from themselves and people they may be around.

There are 2 types of outgoing calls. Some are just returning missed calls from when the helpline was closed. Others are scheduled every 3 weeks for those who need that extra emotional support.

Volunteering for SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support) means they have 1 extra person who can take calls, meaning together we can support those extra few people. The impact on the community is huge. Survivors feel that they can talk about what happened with someone and they can get advice. They also feel believed and not alone. Several calls have even ended with the survivor feeling empowered and wanting to make their own difference.

This is totally new for me. I never thought I’d be able to listen to some of the things that are spoke about on the helpline, let alone support and offer advice to it. I’ve gained so much confidence since starting the helpline. I feel that if I can talk to the brave people I talk to and they feel they can talk to me about what has happened to them, then I can tackle pretty much anything.

It’s boosted my listening/communication skills more than any other experience ever could. I’ve learnt lots since volunteering, including how to support survivors, how to safeguard and what to do if they have been recently sexually abused eg. where to go for evidence, how police reporting works. But I’ve also learnt other things I never thought I would: its gave me the ability to look out for the little things and have a great eye for detail, amazing confidence and communication skills. Since volunteering, I’ve began leaning towards the career path of victim support. It’s nothing I’d ever thought I’d be able to do before – I didn’t have the confidence in myself and think I’d be able to do it, but I can.

From Community Garden Volunteer to Leading Science Communication

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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science student, Maisie Deaton helped to create a community greenspace previously scheduled for a housing development

Transition Town Wellington is part of the transition network, an international environmental movement of local people volunteering to improve sustainability, wildlife, climate change and waste in their town.

I volunteered with them with the aim to help with community gardening and attend meetings but I soon became directly involved in a new project – creation of a forest garden and community greenspace, previously meant for housing development.

I became one of the leaders for science communication by analysing public data and survey responses. This meta analysis from over 250 public inputs aided the project leads to understand the thoughts and opinions of the town. I then produced graphics to present to the public during consultations. Furthermore, I kickstarted their Instagram account, developing their social media platforms to engage more of the community – especially the younger generation.

I believe my presence was useful to their team due to my age difference, (majority were of the older generation). My input provided encouragement that their service was impacting more of the community from all backgrounds, as well as inspiring other young people to take part. Development of an Instagram account also meant their aims could be presented through a more digital, photographic way.

Image of a small shop front with the words Indepependent, local, sustainable and a map of the area

My placement was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I had to live at home for a year before returning to my final year of study. Additionally, I had recently moved to Wellington and started working with this organisation only two months after moving to a completely new place (originally lived in Shropshire). I wanted to gain experience and get to know people in this new area.

Since volunteering with this organisation, I have become a lot more interested in the importance of science communication and working with local people. Aside from their main project, many small community gardening sessions took place where I gained many skills in gardening and land management – learning about plant species and soil which directly relates to my course at UWE: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science.

I made mini wildlife films to grow their YouTube channel. One of the Transition Town elements is to allow local people to develop skills and engage with the community. I edited my first wildlife film and gained experience in photography while sharing my work online for people to enjoy and learn from.
I would definitely continue volunteering if/when I return to Wellington (Somerset). Alternatively, there are many other similar organisations and opportunities within the local community that I’m now more open to take part in.

Irrespective of my fears living in a new place I volunteered to not only enhance my passions surrounding sustainability and conservation, but to help the community and break generational boundaries by connecting with people of all backgrounds, no matter our age or skill level.

This volunteering has actually helped me gain another volunteering project I recently got confirmed in South Africa. I will be volunteering as an ecological research assistant to gain work experience and help this small conservation organisation there.

My passion is to advocate for equality amongst the turmoil of displacement and trauma

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Beth Richardson talks about how being a Mother Companion has supported her degree to become a Midwife

I volunteered to be alongside pregnant women from different backgrounds with challenging situations, to bring skills from midwifery training to the support role but also to learn from their experience and what is needed to be able to provide culturally safe and appropriate perinatal care.

I take the role of a Mother Companion which provides dedicated support and nurturing of a woman or birthing person from any stage in pregnancy, throughout labour and childbirth and for the first 8 weeks of parenthood to help them adapt to their new role.

How I support the charity

The women and families we support are of migrant, refugee or asylum seeker status who do not have birth support or community around them. As a mother companion I provide:

Emotional Support: Space to un-pack ideas, concerns and wishes. Listening, giving encouragement, reassurance, and being a consistent physical & nurturing presence.

Physical Support: Helping with comfort measures, breath work, massage, relaxation, and guidance with infant feeding & settling.

Information Support: Sharing information, explanations and non-medical advice, guidance on NHS care, and signposting to partner agencies.

Advocacy: Facilitating communication between the people we support and care providers so that they can make informed choices. Discussing rights & entitlements in pregnancy.

Where relevant, support for a Mother’s Partner: Offering encouragement, reassurance & guidance on how to support the mother, their infant and themselves.

How volunteering has helped my career

I have been working with small teams of doullas and midwives in a capacity that holds space as a professional friend which, being different from the more clinical and investigatory role of a midwife, provides greater insights into making connections with women and families from all different cultures and backgrounds. It is incredibly inspiring.

I am building knowledge of different cultural practices and ways of being, as well as this I am building different communication skills. There is often a language barrier so learning to trust in facial expressions and body movements and showing care and compassion in this way has been great and I feel I make a deep connection with those I work with.

I am continuing to volunteer with Project Mama ongoing, taking part in training days and will do my specialist placement with them too. I plan to take my midwifery work into a global setting in the future and hope to transfer my skills to working with pregnant women in crisis situations.

I am passionate about seeing and being a part of change in the world we live in. 

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Victoria Alexander, Psychology student, talks about her change making journey

In my role at Caring in Bristol, I cooked and prepared meals to be sent out to homeless people around Bristol. We would generally spend the day preparing about 200/300 meals, made out of food that had been donated – it was great because it meant that we were also utilising food that would have otherwise been wasted. It was nice to know these meals were going out to people who really needed them, and the environment was being helped too!  

I also volunteered in the evening to be a delivery driver. We would drive to various hostels and hotels, and temporary accommodation – where people had been rehomed due to the pandemic, around Bristol. Part of my duties was to sort through donations, including food and clothing and maintain hygiene standards by keeping the warehouse clean.  

Caring in Bristol was absolutely great to volunteer for. There were trained chefs inhouse, but the volunteers were needed due to the quantity being made. it was a challenge but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt some new cookery skills from the chefs that were running the kitchen. The aid of volunteers also meant that other people in the company could spend their time helping the service users, by ensuring they were able to access other support such as financial advice. This was crucial during the worst of the pandemic, as so many people were loosing their rental homes and Caring in Bristol offered amazing support and advice on what people were entitled to. Whenever I engaged with the service users, everyone seemed so grateful. 

Caring in Bristol logo, a white handprint with the silhouette of a heart

I had just moved to Bristol so it was nice to be part of something in my new community. I didn’t know many people and I felt completely isolated during this time. This was made harder with universities being online and the general lock downs that we kept moving in and out of. Even being part of the volunteer group and meeting people that way meant so much to me. Helping out at Caring in Bristol meant I met a few people that I am still good friends with now! Also, going out in the vans really helped me to get to know Bristol and find my way around a lot better 

Caring in Bristol is a really excellent charity, and a really brilliant one to volunteer with too. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and it was nice to be surrounded with people who wanted to see the same change as me and I learnt about many more organisations that do amazing things around the city. 

I went on to volunteer with Fare Share – the team there are all welcoming and appreciative. I am passionate about food being accessible for all and this gave me a really good insight into how we can make this happen and has given me some ideas for my career. It’s so good to see different organisations and see how they are helping socially, but it’s also nice to be a part of something that on an environmental level, helps with food waste, too!  

I was also working as a support worker and noted that much of the diet for service users was sugar and pre-made food that isn’t really that healthy – I’d love to combine the skills I have learnt from Caring in Bristol, my support work and Fare Share – where I am currently volunteering, to set something up once I have finished my degree in Psychology. I now want to develop my understanding of the links between nutrition and mental health as I feel that this issue is often ignored as well as the social problems surrounding this. 

How my degree will take me from volunteer to qualified medic on refugee border crossings

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Lily Stephenson. Paramedic Science student, tells her volunteering journey

I became a student paramedic after working with volunteer medics on the shores of Greece at emergency boat landings. I spent five years volunteering with refugees and asylum seekers trapped at the borders in Greece, Lebanon, Serbia, Italy and France before returning to Bristol to study. I decided to help out with a local project which supported refugees; I felt that I would have a good understanding of the dangerous journeys they may have experienced to get here and wanted to help with integration.

I started volunteering at ‘Welcome Wednesdays Extra’ once a week in the middle of the lockdown. It is a well established project, run by Creative Youth Network, that supports newly arrived young asylum seekers and refugees. Most of the participants are between 15-19 and live in emergency homeless shelters or foster care.

The sessions offer a chance to meet other young people, practice English, play games, do art and crafts, cook and eat nutritious food and access a lawyer. I learnt Arabic in Lebanon so I help with translation which enables the young people to access the service and feel welcome. Generally I support the participants emotionally, encourage them to make use of the space and make friends, organise activities and games and help with special events such as the Eid feast and the Christmas party.

Many young people arrive traumatized and unable to trust people, but gradually we build relationships and I help them feel safe and connected in the UK.
Sharing with staff my experience and understanding of refugee issues enabled staff to treat the young people in a trauma-informed way to understand their behaviour. I brought culturally appropriate ideas to the group with an understanding of their needs and the importance of keeping a connection with their home. Many arrived during lockdown so we tried to reduce social isolation and help them stay positive. The young people grew in confidence and this impacted their ability to become independent and manage their lives.

I have learnt many things from the amazing young people who attend the session. They inspire me everyday with their resilience and strength. Many of them are unaccompanied, living in terrible accommodation, homesick and traumatized, yet manage to stay positive. They are so dedicated to education that it reminds me how lucky I am to be at university in a safe country.

The young people have also taught me how to play pool and table tennis (although they still win every time!). I have learnt traditional Afghan dancing (although I am very bad at it!). I have learnt about the rich culture and diversity of Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and other countries, and also the terrible atrocities people have lived through.

I learnt about the challenges and opportunities for newly arrived refugees in Bristol. I felt proud to be part of a community that supports refugees and advocates for vulnerable young people. I have learnt about referral routes and helped to signpost onward to other services.

I built my confidence in speaking Arabic and now see how useful it can be in Bristol. I helped send texts in Arabic to new participants and ensured documents were accessible in numerous languages. I even learnt some Pashtu from playing board games!

I organised new activities such as card making, herbal medicine making and badge making. This improved my group work and leadership skills. I discussed with my manager the need for staff training surrounding asylum law and services for refugees in Bristol, which was then organised. I hope this improved the service for young people.

I am hoping to start doing 1-1 work with one of the most vulnerable participants who I built rapport with. He speaks Arabic and needs extra help with his mental health and well being. I hope to carry on volunteering there for the duration of my course, and return to Lebanon when I qualify to work on the Syrian border as a medic supporting the refugee community.

Volunteering has been the first step of my career path in teaching

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Chloe Henderson, Art and Writing student, finds her inspiration from young people in Bristol

I am extremely committed to helping instil confidence in young people and inspiring them to believe in their goals is the most rewarding thing.

In the November of 2020, I discovered Action Tutoring through the University’s volunteering section on the website. I completed an application and attended roughly 7 hours of training, covering safeguarding and structuring lessons etc.

As an English tutor, my role is to motivate, support and engage young people in their reading comprehension, spelling, creative writing and confidence. I have worked with year 7s and 11s and have taught 1- 3 pupils at a time.

Each week I tutor a group of pupils for an hour. I have a workbook that contains key resources and the learning objectives for each year group and what they need to be focusing on in order to pass their GCSEs or SATs. Each week I prepare warm-up activities that recap on the previous lesson and go over any elements they are struggling with. Then I carry on with the rest of the lesson and also give time for the pupils to share their thoughts and encourage them to work both independently and as a team.

My work for the charity has been greatly appreciated as they have really struggled to find volunteers to match the increase in demand, due to Covid. It’s great to help the charity to continue to do its amazing work.

During the pandemic, a lot of young people have lacked valuable in-person lessons and many families have simultaneously been under unexpected financial stress. Action Tutoring gives extra support to students who are on pupil premium. This is something I resonated with as having a younger sister of a similar age I can understand that the lack of in-person time in school has not only had an effect on pupil’s learning but also their confidence in subjects. The first occasion where I realised the impact we had was last year when I was tutoring a Year 11 student, at the end of the term I had been tutoring him he thanked me and told me he felt confident about his exam. This experience has now inspired me to become a teacher myself as I understand the impact of inspiring and helping young people.

Image courtesy of Action Tutoring

In January 2021, when I first started I was extremely nervous and I felt quite inadequate as when completing our training most of the other volunteers were much older and were ex-teachers/tutors. The first pupil I taught online due to school closures. This was daunting and in retrospect having experienced in-person tutoring, tutoring online was much harder and was quite a jump in the deep end considering I did not have any experience in this field. However, having joined in the deep end in a new field I was quickly able to build up confidence with each session I ran.

Knowledge wise, I have enriched my understanding of curriculums and exam criteria for the different Key stages in order to deliver the most successful and rewarding lessons ensuring I increase their chances of getting the grades they can achieve. Additionally, I have been able to expand my skills in lesson planning and assessing the success of a lesson, so I can continue to improve for my students.

I am constantly using my own initiative and creativity to come up with ideas that keep the lesson both engaging and rewarding for the students. For example, creating mindmaps, drawing visualisation of characters in books and having group discussions on books we have all been reading.

As this volunteering experience has been so rewarding and insightful to the world of teaching I have now decided that I would love to become an Art teacher. Volunteering has been the first step of my career path and since I have volunteered to do Art days at primary schools. I gained work experience both as an English and Art teacher at The Cotswold secondary school. Volunteering started my journey and gave me the confidence to seek work experience and other opportunities, so much so that I have been confirmed a place to do my Art and Design PGCE at UWE this September.

My NHS volunteer role helped me achieve my ultimate dream -qualifying as a Solicitor

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James Hathaway, Advanced Legal Practice student, talks about his furlough experience

During 2020 I was furloughed for a number of months, I was undertaking my masters in law alongside my employment following my LPC course.

All of my academic studies and work experience relate to law. I have always been interested in psychology, studying this at A level, but had no real experience. My cousin was working at a crisis centre and hearing of this work re-sparked this interest, leading me to apply for a volunteering role for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership.

After an initial interview they offered me a volunteer role as Assistant Ward Psychologist on the Silver Birch Ward. This was an acute adult inpatient ward for individuals who were incapable of supporting themselves outside of hospital due to complex mental health care needs.

I assisted the Ward Psychologist to implement and trial a new bibliotherapy session for the patients. This involved designing a programme that would focus on a specific theme each session and finding texts that were appropriate for this. The focus of this particular programme was poetry as it was proven to be effective in getting patients to talk about powerful emotions without it being too direct.

Part of this work involved reading research papers on this topic. The Ward Phycologist had been wanting to trial this for some time but did not have the staffing available. Through the hours I offered as a volunteer this allowed implementation of this session as well as the admin support needed for searching for materials and record keeping of the sessions.

The sessions proved extremely popular with service users who gave positive feedback, with some requesting certain texts and literature to be incorporated. This also provided useful insight for the psychologist. I would take notes on individuals reactions to the texts and their interactions with the group. We would later discuss these and assess the responses.

I also helped create a guide by writing collections all of the texts used, the themes and overviews of the responses received for other NHS services to implement their own bibliotherapy sessions.

I knew this experience would help develop my interpersonal and communication skills, both of these are key elements to my legal work. This work took place in a challenging environment where noticing and reacting to individuals social ques were key. This helped me learn a lot about body language and its role in communication.

I learned so much during this role, the Ward Phycologist I assisted noted my keen interest and offered me to read their research papers on the subject. This gave me a detailed insight to a profession where I had previously had none. Reading these papers also gave me a chance to practice my academic skills in analysis and research.

I also developed effective note taking skills whilst still remaining engaged and present. This has proven to be a valuable transferrable skill for my work I had not initially considered.

The feedback to our bibliotherapy session was so positive service users successfully requested it be permanently implemented. This whole experience has helped me to maintain my confidence in my abilities during an uncertain period in my working life. Being furloughed impacted my confidence and started to impact my mental wellbeing, volunteering helped me to continue to feel valued and maintain confidence in my skills.

This volunteer role has assisted me in achieving my Trainee Contract and my ultimate dream as qualifying as a Solicitor. This has given me a powerful insight into the impact volunteering can have. I would definitely consider volunteering again in any area as even a small commitment can have a large impact on others wellbeing.

United Nation Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 11. Goal 3 is good health and wellbeing. Goal 11 is sustainable cities and communities

How I used my placement year to improve my confidence

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Déborah Cardoso Ribas, a Creative and Professional Writing student, shares her experience working in the UWE Careers and Enterprise department

I came to UWE Bristol to pursue my passion for writing after leaving a Chemical Engineering degree at Edinburgh University. Breaking the mould of studying a subject that would give me a profession, to studying a subject that I am passionate about and can make a career of, was a bold but scary choice. Not at all popular within my family. I thought that doing a placement would validate my decision and help me understand what to do after graduating.

With a vocational degree like mine, there is no set career path. I have an array of skills that enable me to work in more creative settings, such as publishing. And equally are an asset in corporate areas like marketing and social media.

Having engaged before with the Student Ventures (Enterprise) team to develop a business to support beginner fiction writers, I knew I could be an entrepreneur. Still, I lacked the confidence to do it full-time. Therefore, I also wanted to use my placement year to make an informed decision. So, when I saw on Instagram that the Student Ventures team was recruiting, I did not hesitate and applied!

Application and Duties

The whole process was very smooth. The first stage was to fill in an application, describing my skills based on the job requirements. I was not asked to provide a cover letter or a CV, to which I was grateful as I didn’t have relevant work experience at the time. As part of the interview, I presented the resolution to a social media question and did an in-tray exercise.

To prepare, I used the UWE Careers Toolkit and booked a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Coach who advised me to use the STAR technique – very useful to answer competency-based questions in a story format.

A team of 5 professionals, smiling with their arms around each other
Student Ventures Team: Megan Griffins, Lewis Nicholson, Callum Usher-Dodd, Gabi Cox and Déborah Cardoso Ribas

I was offered the job on the same day as the interview, and a month later, in September, I started my role. Initially, I worked from home due to COVID, completing most of the training and induction online.

When the academic year began, I started working on campus in a split role between Careers and Student Ventures.  Overall, I had three main tasks besides managing and creating content for their social media channels:

  1. Frenchay Careers front desk, eight hours per week. I dealt with queries from students and supported the coaches with their appointments. I gained valuable experience in customer service and CV building. And I became more confident showcasing my skills both in a written and oral format.
  2. Bower Ashton Careers Team support, once a week. I promoted the services and supported finding job opportunities for ACE students. I learned about labour marketing information and strengthened my Microsoft Office IT skills.
  3. Student Ventures. I supported the team to deliver workshops and events, manage the inbox, and developed a personal project of my choice – a Brand Bible. I used my copywriting and scriptwriting skills to develop the Brand Bible, a document entailing key information about the service and how to best represent it internally and externally. I also increased my knowledge of independent businesses, mentoring and coaching.

I was surprised how much freedom I was given in the Student Ventures team; I remember being asked what I wanted to do: talk to students, work in the background, create content, deliver workshops… And I kind of did it all. Once I had done my day-to-day tasks, I was free to experiment and explore new ways of engaging our community or pitch an idea to my colleagues. And even though I was “just” a placement student, I felt extremely valued and that what I was doing was important.

Learning Opportunities

My line manager, Gabi Cox, encouraged me to pursue my personal interests, which led me to seek training in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI). I became an EDI champion, engaging my team in conversations about the topic and actively promoting and communicating EDI initiatives.  

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by delivering a talk to the Team Entrepreneurship cohort about Storytelling in Business: how to translate stories into copy that connects with audiences. I am now in the process of submitting a proposal to deliver a package of talks in the next academic year about Creativity in Business.

When working within Careers & Enterprise, you quickly understand the importance of planning and setting up objectives to achieve your short and long-term career goals. This year gave me the reassurance that I made the right decision by coming to UWE to study Creative and Professional Writing. Today, I feel more confident in my skills and the professional I am becoming. And although I am not sure yet if I will be a full-time entrepreneur after third year, I know which steps to take to start earning an income from my writing.

If you are considering doing a placement, I say go for it! Grab every opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and explore the possibilities. Most importantly, ask for help, do not be ashamed if you encounter challenges. It can get tough at times. It’s not easy to balance work commitments and course-related activities. But once you overcome the obstacles and reflect on all your achievements, you will be very proud of yourself.

United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 8. Decent work and economic growth

How volunteering at Bristol Drug Project helped me choose a new career path

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Lainie-Jayne Smith, Criminology BA (Hons)

My reasons for volunteering

After finishing my second year, I became aware of how valuable my time is and started to realise how much I needed to take advantage of summer break. I also wanted to get an in-depth, hands-on understanding of roles that were available in my area. 

How I got involved

Once I started looking, there were roles everywhere. Social media was one of the biggest platforms for volunteering advertisements. I searched keywords such as “young people”, “volunteering”, “vulnerable people” and I was presented with a variety of roles. Each application process was similar, I had to fill out some information about me, hobbies, experiences, etc. Once I heard back, I would go to an interview and started my role at soon after! 

My role at Bristol Drug Project

At Bristol Drug Project, I worked with children that came from families whose parents had addiction problems and required interventions within their homes. Once a week, I would collect the children on a bus from all around Bristol, and then we would play games, have open conversations, eat together and overall make sure they were happy and content. We offer a safe space for children to express themselves when things are a struggle at home, this also gave the parents some personal time too. The aim is to create a happier environment within the home, so all parties can be happy and content.  

What I have learnt

It helped me realise, after speaking with experienced people that work with vulnerable young people, that there are so many routes to take and so many different careers to explore. I found that maybe the industry isn’t how I thought it was, I found that in certain positions the amount of help you can give is limited. This was a struggle for me but also led me to understand that supporting individuals at any stage of their life is important and essential. So, this has led to my new career choice of hopefully getting into probation work which is something I hadn’t thought about before. 

It has dramatically aided my confidence, interview skills and has given me a lot of experience that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t spend my summer with this organisation!

Just offering my help one day a week, I feel like I have made such a difference for the children I worked with. I also got to understand and appreciate the young people. Listening to them and applying this to my module helped me to develop a deeper understanding of what exactly youth face in this day and age. It really got me thinking about what could be done to ensure stability in their lives. 

My top tips

My advice to a volunteer would be don’t be too specific, and don’t limit yourself to one role. There are so many roles out there, with organisations willing and waiting – you can set your availability, find groups and organisations that are flexible, and this way you can delve into a variety of roles.  

In terms of your application write everything down on a document and refer back to this when filling them out. This way you don’t waste time repeating yourself. Also, I found that some organisations want to get to know you! It doesn’t need to be overly formal, express yourselves in your applications… you never know where you could end up! 

Most importantly, remind yourself you are there by choice, even if it’s 1 hour out of your day, you are making a difference no matter what role you are in – and that in itself is priceless. 

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