To mark Student Volunteering Week (10th – 16th February 2020), we sat down with our current Mile End and Barts and The London Volunteering Officers to discuss their reasons for running and what advice they have for any students who are considering volunteering for the first time.
First up, we have Ashraya Harish, who is our Volunteering Officer from Barts and The London about how volunteering has helped her to better understand who she is, as well as helping other individuals who are less fortuntate!
Why did you decide to run?
Volunteering is something I’ve grown up doing, ever since I was about 15 years old. Coming to University, I found the volunteering culture so interesting and tried my best to get stuck in from the beginning. Taking the challenges I faced doing this on board, I thought I could help make getting involved easier for others which is why I decided to run.
What are you hoping to/have you achieved this year?
I am hoping to increase engagement with volunteering, both from individuals as well as from groups such as sports clubs. I am also hoping to make life easier for the multitude of volunteering groups at BL, and provide them with support and help wherever they need it.
Why do you think it’s important that students volunteer whilst at University?
I think it can be so easy to get caught up in a student bubble when at University. Your life can revolve very much around your closest surroundings, and the outside world gets lost. Volunteering is an excellent way to burst out of this bubble and see a whole new side to things that you could very easily miss. Volunteering can also teach you so much about yourself – how you respond to challenges, your leadership capabilities. I think volunteering is an excellent way to get to know yourself better, something that many struggle to do whilst at University.
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
Meeting new people. Whether it’s the students I’m volunteering with, or the organisations I’m volunteering for, I have met the most unique, interesting people through volunteering. Students who volunteer can be driven by similar goals, regardless of their surface differences so volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded individuals. I love that volunteering has exposed me to a wide variety of people who I may never have met otherwise.
What would your advice be to any students considering volunteering for the first time?
Do it do it do it! Even if all you have is an hour, find something that fits in your schedule and get involved. Volunteering isn’t just for someone else, it can be loads of fun if you pick something that’s right for you. Set yourself a goal, and just get stuck in. There’s no replacement for doing! If you don’t like the first thing you try your hand at, try something else and who knows, in time you might find the perfect fit for you.