I started my placement in September 2013 during my third year of my degree course in Consumer Studies at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. In my placement I have gained valuable experience from working on a wide range of tasks within the Centre.
Before I officially started my placement I met with Barbara, Recruitment and Placement Officer and Michele, Volunteer Centre Co-ordinator in their Magherafelt office to discuss my role, the skills which I could offer and opportunities for involvement which could make a positive contribution to the work of the Centre and also enhance my learning experience and personal development.
I had four training days in mid- September which mainly involved induction about policies and work – shadowing Barbara, Michele and Joanne, Recruitment and Placement Officer in the Cookstown Office.
From the beginning I have been made very welcome as part of the team. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I settled in quite quickly and found there was always plenty of work to be getting on with.
As it would not be possible to detail all aspects of the work I was involved with I have outlined some examples in an effort to illustrate the variety of opportunities which are available in the life of a busy Volunteer Centre.
I had weekly supervision with Barbara to discuss my workload, training opportunities and my plan of work. This provided me with the opportunity to discuss any problems or concerns I had.
On a daily basis I assisted with the day to day running of the Volunteer Centre offices. As raising public awareness is key to the success of the Volunteer Centre I was involved in a number of events and activities, the biggest of which was the Volunteer and Recruitment Fair held at Meadowbank Sports Arena in late 2013.
I had the opportunity to represent the Volunteer Centre at a range of events including NRC InfoFest 2013 and many other local Awareness and Information Events.
Student Volunteering Week saw me at the University of Ulster Campuses in Magee, Jordanstown and Coleraine to promote volunteering. On the lead up to Valentine’s Day I organised a media campaign encouraging people to “Be the Heart of Your Community”.
Volunteering however is not all hard work – there are also social occasions, for example, the AGM and Celebration Evening held in Greenvale Hotel and the Millennium Volunteers Award Ceremony held in the Guildhall, Londonderry. Here I received my certificate for completing 200 hours of volunteering.
If this award is something you are not familiar with I would encourage you to find out more and get involved – it may be that you are already volunteering in a local youth club for instance, and these hours link together like building blocks.
Overall my experience has been very enjoyable and rewarding. Volunteering is not all one-sided; it’s not all about giving to the organisation and the community – there are many benefits for the volunteer in working individually or as part of a team, gaining experience in a wide variety of settings and learning new skills through attendance at courses.
In conclusion I would like to especially thank Barbara, Michele and Joanne for their help and encouragement.
Thanks also to all the staff and volunteers who helped make my placement a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.