The global pandemic has been a difficult time for all people – especially us. As university students we have had to alter our entire routine, lectures, and experience of university itself to remote learning from our homes.
But don’t be afraid.
There are still opportunities available despite this pandemic, in which you can actively participate, gain experience, and continue your journey of getting acquainted with new people. Volunteering is one of those opportunities you can pursue and there are even different roles available to students. I understand the difficulties we have faced as a result of Covid-19, and volunteering has helped me build relations with people and most importantly, boosted my confidence and skills. I know this will definitely have a positive impact on my future career prospects.
With the endless lockdowns and restrictions, I was motivated to find a volunteering role that allows me to help in my community as well as enabling me to work with others, gaining their insights into their experiences with Covid-19 etc. I joined the NHS Volunteer Responders Programme, under the Royal Voluntary Service; this is a tremendous, yet emotional experience because it involves communicating with those self-isolating alone and completing challenging tasks. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as, although we are limited to what we can do due to lockdown, I can continue meeting new people and acquiring new skills.
Believe me, this pandemic hasn’t been easy, but it is what we do that makes our time in lockdown valuable. So, in the future, we are able to tell our stories of facing difficulties as a student but overcoming them through volunteering for roles with passion and a sense of purpose.
Today, I will be sharing the benefits of volunteering I personally feel are most valuable to students.
Mental and physical health
Covid-19 has impacted millions of students and it is important for us to focus on our mental and physical health. This is where volunteering can significantly help you, providing you with emotional stability and combatting any feelings of stress or anxiety. As a volunteer, you are in frequent contact with others and through this, you can share your feelings with your volunteering group.
Also, your volunteering role might not involve you sitting at a desk all day; you could be on the move to complete different tasks and go to different locations etc. This can be challenging but it provides you with a sense of purpose, keeping you both mentally and physically energised.
Connecting with others and creating friends
Volunteering can increase your social skills and ability to communicate with others effectively, as you are continuously liaising with and meeting new people. But also, it builds bonds because you all share the same purpose and as you have the same goals, there are better chances of you building relationships and powerful connections. This ultimately has an impact on you as a student, as you can then use those connections to build a career.
Develop skills for your career
Volunteering provides you with the critical skills that will be needed in the future for either your career or with your journey through life. When I started volunteering in the beginning, I didn’t understand how it could actually develop my skills but then as I fulfilled my duties as a volunteer, I realised developing skills was in fact the greatest benefit. For me, volunteering increased my confidence through being in an environment which was challenging, but at the same time, rewarding. Having to communicate with individuals self-isolating alone, I understood the need to be compassionate and sympathetic. This increased my confidence because after a few interactions, I am able to communicate clearly with assurance.
How to find a volunteering role
Find a role which suits you and does not conflict with your daily life so that you are able to enjoy it and actually have fun. There are so many resources available on the Aston Careers and Placements blog; you can read student stories, and find information about an array of different organisations. To look for current volunteering roles, you should head to their jobs portal, Aston Futures.
Remember, there are opportunities available and it is up to you which role you pursue; they all essentially provide you with the benefits and skills needed for your life after university.
As someone who has been volunteering for over a year, I can confidently say volunteering has helped me in many ways. I have bonded with people, improved certain skills and there were days when I was feeling overwhelmed, but volunteering helped. Embrace the benefits and become a volunteer!
Written by Rafat, current BSc Politics with International Relations student