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Volunteers Awareness Week – Can Volunteering help you grow?

Volunteers Awareness Week
1st – 7th June 2016


Another year has passed since we wrote about Daniel and Julie, who were volunteering within their communities. This Volunteers Awareness Week, we spoke to Nicky James, who volunteers for St John Ambulance, and Max Swindon, who has experience of volunteering across various sectors, including with the elderly and the youth.

Nicky is a young man from South Wales. He is proud to have recently become certified as a basic first aid trainer through St John Ambulance, a first aid charity aiming to teach life-saving skills to the public.

Nicky started with St John in September of last year, in the hopes of gaining the experience and skills he may need to embark on a medical career. His work involves training once a week, following a curriculum which allows individuals to qualify in first aider roles, including basic and intermediate.

Nicky also contributes outside of these classes, helping to clean and prepare rooms which St John rent to the public as part of their fundraising. Passing a practical exam qualifies volunteers to use their skills on duty, where opportunities can involve delivering care to people in need at public events.

Since he joined, Nicky has learned about CPR, manual handling, Primary and Secondary Surveys of injured patients, treating shock, the recovery position, taking pulses and measuring breathing rates (vital signs) and much more.

“I knew just being interested in first aid wouldn’t help if a family member or friend was hurt. Now I can help others in medical need if the situation arises.”

For Nicky, volunteering isn’t just about the vast medical knowledge he has gained. Volunteering with St John and attending weekly sessions has helped with Nicky’s confidence levels and personal life. “I am ordinarily nervous around new people – being given the opportunity to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds has helped me to grow as an individual.”

You can sign up as a volunteer with St John, or learn more, through their website.

Volunteering in ZimbabweMax Swindon recently graduated from university, and has ample experience of voluntary work. He has worked with youth in both the UK and in Zimbabwe.

The Canal Boat Project is designed to help underprivileged children and children who have been removed from schools to develop fundamental life skills. During the day, Max would take the children on canal boat trips, where he would give lessons in basic English, Maths and Cooking. He also maintained and drove the canal boats.

In doing this, Max gained confidence and developed skills in interacting with large groups of people. He learned about teaching and listening, as well as gaining basic mechanical skills, which can always come in handy! Max also made a fantastic group of friends.

In Zimbabwe, Max worked alongside International Citizens Service, with their partner charity, Restless Development. Similarly to the Canal Boat Project in the UK, the aims were to teach the children practicalities about livelihood and sexual health. He worked in a school and a youth centre, as well as at a local clinic, and developed a tremendous amount of knowledge during his time there.

As well as traveling across the world, Max gained independence, basic language skills and a vast knowledge of a new culture. He learned more about teaching and communication, and furthered his knowledge of international development. He also learned about education in another country, (Africa), and practical skills like cooking over a fire.

Max says he would recommend volunteering to anyone – “I would certainly recommend volunteering. However, it’s important to choose carefully, and ensure there is no bad practice within your chosen charity.”

volunteers-week-2016-logoIt’s important to remain safe in the workplace, whether you’re employed or volunteering unpaid. Some training courses we provide to keep you safe include Lone Working, Personal and Professional Boundaries and Conflict Resolution. Our newest open course, Mental Health Awareness in Children and Young People, is particularly useful when working with youth groups.

Interested in volunteering? Do-It and Volunteering Wales can help you find the perfect placement. Follow @volunteersweek for more.

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