This blog was written by Apprentice Nation team member, Jessica Oghenegweke
Last week we were celebrating Volunteers Week, but it has also been heartbreaking and challenging following the tragic death of George Floyd. I’ve been struggling to understand how anyone would actively not want to get involved and view this as a human rights issue, but upon reflection, I have realised how incredibly lucky I am. Through participating in the NCS Leaders programme in the Autumn of 2013, it catapulted me into a new world of social cohesion, volunteering and being able to not only learn and be passionate about multiple social issues but actively get involved and help fight against them.
Without this experience shaping my character, I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today. Volunteering is more than a verb. It not only teaches you more about certain issues and movements, or empowers you to believe you have the ability to change the world, it also introduces you to an array of different people you probably would never meet in day to day life. In my experience, these people who are of all ages, races, religions, backgrounds and cultures enrich the volunteering experience just as much as the act of giving back. For some people, just being able to collaborate with someone who you have preconceived ideas about based on their appearance and have a positive experience, can eradicate years of unconscious bias they have built. These people can also teach you something new about the cause you’re volunteering for, about themselves or other ways in which you could give back. These people, as I’ve learnt, can also turn into family.
Through throwing yourself into an unfamiliar situation, whether solo or with friends, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to grow. It can massively improve your confidence, networking skills and ways in which you treat other people going forward. It can also just make you feel fantastic – some of the happiest faces I’ve seen are after a finished day of transforming a youth venue or a charity gig gone great!
I can personally say that volunteering has made me a better person and has massively shifted my career path. Since I was around 5 watching the X-Factor, I’ve wanted Dermot O’Leary’s job, but after I’ve created this whole new support network and have had the privilege of working with such amazing people and organisations, learning more about social issues and the positive impact you can have on a whole group of people just by giving up a little bit of your time, I’ve decided that actually, a career in humanities is more for me! There is no better feeling than making a positive difference, so I’d like to challenge you reading this, whoever you are, why don’t you give volunteering a chance and see whether there really is a better feeling than giving back.
If you’re looking to get started in volunteering then here’s a few sites that can help you to get involved.
We’d also like to highlight a few ways that you can make a difference towards equality with the Black Lives Matters movement. So head to this site to find petitions, education resources and places to donate. https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co
Don’t forget we have lots of useful resources that can help you with developing your career so check them out here and on our socials: