Volunteer Voice: What volunteering means to me
With most of our volunteering projects kicking off this term, it seems apt for our first blog post to be from one of our most active volunteers last year, sharing her experiences.
Courtney Giles: What volunteering means to me
"I think University is a perfect time to either start volunteering or carry on doing more volunteering, as there are such a variety of experiences available tailored specifically to students and their interests, so volunteering could not be made any easier or more accessible!"
I have loved volunteering since the age of 14 and have worked on variety of activities, including teaching music, working one to one with a disabled child teaching drama and being a Brownie leader. However it is my work with Phab that I spent most of my time doing. Epsom Phab is a club for disabled and able-bodied young people, where my parents are club leaders. It is a youth club in which we do lots of activities; I have helped out there officially since the age of 16 on club evenings, and also on trips and an annual holiday.
As soon as I started at the University of Warwick I sought out the local Phab club, as Phab is a national charity, and started volunteering at Kenilworth Phab through Warwick Volunteers.
Starting a new project
In my second year of University, alongside Kenilworth Phab, I started my own project through a competition supported by Santander. This was called ‘Reaching for the Stars’ and was running musical theatre sessions with local children, which culminated in a show. I found this project highly rewarding as the children had such a great time taking part, and it was good to be able to take on a leadership role and start something new for others to enjoy.
I set up Warwick Youth Phab in April 2013, and managed to find a committed group of students to aid me in the running of the club. We successfully ran a term of sessions and built up a group of members who came along on a fortnightly basis to take part in arts and crafts, Unihoc, basketball, Wii games, pool and table tennis, among other activities.
Taking on leadership roles
Around the time I set up Warwick Phab, I also decided to run for the executive committee of Warwick Volunteers, and was elected as events officer. This gave me the opportunity to see more students volunteering in action and develop my understanding of the positive impact students can have on their local community. Volunteering has been a highly important part of my University experience, I am really pleased to have been presented with so many opportunities there and I think University is a perfect time to either start volunteering or carry on doing more volunteering, as there are such a variety of experiences available tailored specifically to students and their interests, so volunteering could not be made any easier or more accessible!
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my progression through student volunteering, from being a volunteer, to leading a project, to being on the student executive committee for Warwick Volunteers".