My name is Marisol and I am from Germany. I applied for the voluntary role of Volunteer Centre Assistant at Volunteer Center Birmingham through Erasmus+ as following my qualifications I wanted to experience working in Britain and get a real life opportunity to practice my English in a working environment. I was successful in my interview and was totally over the moon when I was offered the role. After clarifying some paperwork, the date of my departure finally arrived.
If you would have asked me about volunteering few months before, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a lot of information about it. Of course I knew that volunteering means helping other people by working unpaid, but the vast of different areas where you could volunteer wasn’t clear to me at all.
You can not only volunteer for organisations which work with elderly, disabled, homeless or addicted people, but also for museums, different cultural events and projects. There are even possibilities to volunteer in fundraising, marketing or web design areas. There is a much wider range of opportunities than I had ever imagined.
During my time at Volunteer Centre Birmingham I have often been asked by people why someone would work unpaid. In my experience, and from what I have heard from other volunteers coming into the centre, there are many benefits of volunteering. You are not only able to help your community and gain a strong feeling of self-worth and increased confidence, but you also obtain valuable work experience and either learn or brush up on skills, which are often the keys to paid work. Volunteering somewhere also gives you the chance to meet new people too and often a chance to socialize and increase your networks.
In my case volunteering at the volunteer centre included a variety of things. Some of these involved activities such as advertising new voluntary roles for community organisations in Birmingham and responding to email enquiries but much of it involved providing face-to-face support to people who came into the centre looking for voluntary opportunities. Working with members of the public in an open access centre means you never know from one day to the next what to expect. This means that each day is different and varied, which pushes you to learn new skills and certainly keeps you on your toes!
It was really rewarding to be able to help someone to find a voluntary opportunity and hope that they would enjoy their role as much as I was enjoying my own experience. I realized that for many people volunteering was a stepping stone to future opportunities but also they really wanted the chance to use their skills and give their time to help their local community. Whilst at the volunteer centre I learnt a lot of new skills and I was able to develop my professional skills – all of which will look great on my C.V – but mostly I just really enjoyed it and feel like I have made a valuable contribution.
At this point I would like to express my thanks to my all my amazing colleagues at the volunteer centre. Without them it wouldn’t have been such an enjoyable time and great experience. Volunteering at Volunteer Centre Birmingham was indeed a valuable experience in many ways and I would recommend it to anyone.