Why we volunteer? The best answer we can give is that its good for the CV and the ladies love it! But seriously, and prepare for an awful lot of cliches, volunteering has been the most enjoyable, and most rewarding thing about our university experience.
It has been an amazing year, though at times extremely stressful, because it only feels like yesterday that Sarah, Rosy and ourselves were awkwardly meeting up for the first time. Since then, from being four relative strangers sat round a table at the Activities Zone, we have become four very good friends.
We feel very lucky enough to be the leaders of in our opinion, the best of them all, Children's Project. A group aimed at giving opportunities to local children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We organise monthly trips, including swimming, laser quest, and our personal favourite climbing.
What sums up why we have valued the work we have done this year has to be the reaction from the children we work with. These children seldom get the opportunity to do the activities we offer and when you drop them off at the end of the day, they can barely contain their excitement when they are asked, ‘Did you have a good day?’ For us it’s knowing that the work we do is being valued by someone that makes it worthwhile.
One of the children we worked with, summed this up perfectly. When he was referred to our project, we were told to prepare for a child who was lacking in confidence, shy and difficult to handle. After a year I can tell you that he had completely transformed. Not only has he been on every trip with his school, but he socialises well with other children. His mum told us that he was always in bed early the night before, just trying to make each Saturday trip come quicker.
Though we would not for a minute say that leading Children's Project has always been straightforward, we can quite confidently say it has contributed to one of the best and most rewarding years of our lives. We have been exceptionally lucky to have worked with some wonderful children, some inspiring volunteers and staff, but most of all, as a group of project leaders who have become great friends.
This amazing year spent working with the children and seeing them develop, has been made even better by experiencing it all with the kindest people we have had the privilege of meeting. That’s what volunteering means to us.