The many benefits of volunteering

Posted on the 10th September 2019

HeadStart has definitely been an amazing experience for me, allowing me to make new friends, build my confidence and develop valuable skills that will provide a foundation for my future.

I first found out about HeadStart while on NCS. I became intrigued straight away as it seemed like a fantastic opportunity and I have always wanted a job, yet this just seems impossible for people my age because of our usual lack of experience.

I started my volunteering at the charity shop Scope, where I manned the register and sorted through donations. This was a fun experience, especially laughing at the strange things people donated with the other volunteers (who soon became my friends), which included everything from valuable coins to crazy disco clothes. Yes, there was the occasional competition to see who could come up with the most outrageous outfit. I got to meet many interesting people from my local community, who were so different to anyone I had encountered before, making me want to branch out from my little bubble of people who were just like me.

I met many elderly ladies who came in regularly to look at our collection of little china figurines and young mothers who came in with their babies, looking for discounted soft toys. My supervisor was lovely- she always made me feel so welcome as she introduced me to her friends in our community and showed me lots of baby photos of her new grandchild. I really enjoyed looking through the old vinyl records of Stevie Wonder, the Beatles and many others, with her, which I had never seen before, making me feel like I was looking at history.

As well as having fun, I also built my confidence by engaging with customers and learning how to manage my time effectively, as there was always a lot to do. As I had to fit volunteering into my routine and around school, it also developed my organisational skills. This also inspired me to take up volunteering after I finished HeadStart, as I became a Biology mentor to younger students at school and also a Peer Supporter who helped them deal with mental health issues- all of which bolstered my UCAS application when applying to university. They also made me appreciate the importance of giving back to my community and the joy gained from helping other people.

This summer, I have applied to work at HeadStart in order to contribute to the programme that had given so many experiences to me. Hence I am currently the Marketing and Communications Administrator where I am learning new things every day and developing important interpersonal skills for the future. All in all, HeadStart has definitely helped me a lot, by not only providing me with amazing experiences but also giving me a vital stepping stone to a successful future.

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