Sarah Day studied at Cardiff and is now a project worker with Student Volunteering Cardiff
Sarah volunteering in Africa
When I first came to University I wasn’t sure which direction I was heading in, and hoped my time at Cardiff would make things clearer. I was studying Journalism, Film and Media combined with Cultural Criticism and was really excited about experiencing university life to the full. I wanted to get involved in other activities outside of my degree so in my second year I discovered the volunteering fair and started volunteering with Student Volunteering Cardiff.
Student Volunteering Cardiff is a charity run by the students at the University. We volunteer in and around Cardiff working with the elderly, young, disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community.
I joined the Marie Curie Hospice Buddy Scheme visiting a local cancer hospice and keeping patients company for a morning or an afternoon every week. The project was created to provide patients with someone to talk to and to listen, especially for patients who had few visitors. I enjoyed the volunteering experience enormously; it introduced me to a whole different side of Cardiff and I met some lovely people, many of whom had lived in Cardiff all their life. The project was challenging and difficult at times but volunteering allowed me to make a small difference to a vulnerable and lonely person, simply by giving up a few hours of my time.
I found the project so fulfilling that in my final year I went on to co-ordinate the project, recruiting volunteers, organising timetables, working with the hospice and making sure everyone was coping with the project. Becoming a co-ordinator allowed me to share with others the immensely rewarding time I had experienced whilst volunteering and to develop the project further, as well as volunteering myself.
I enjoyed the challenge of organising and training volunteers in order to provide a valuable service for the clients. It was a fantastic opportunity to get more involved in the community as well as the charity and at the same time develop my skills. By volunteering I improved my communication and organisation skills as well as making new friends at the various socials and events. Student Volunteering Cardiff gave me an opportunity to try something I had never experienced before and it encouraged me to continue my volunteer work in the summer holidays, and in 2006 I travelled to Madagascar to teach English.
During my time as a co-ordinator I began to think more about the sense of satisfaction I felt as a volunteer and the impact volunteers were having on clients and wanted to continue to be a part of this experience. When the job of ‘Project Worker’ came up with the charity, I jumped at the chance to work there. I wanted to illustrate how important student volunteers can be to the community and to help other students experience the incredible rewarding feeling I achieved through volunteering. Now, working for Student Volunteering Cardiff I have been able to get more involved in the Cardiff community, running a project for children with learning disabilities and working with a great team of staff and student co-ordinators. I am constantly impressed by the volunteer work the students do and by how much they care and the impact it has on the community.
I really love the work I do now, and am so glad that I started volunteering - it’s given me clarity and direction, and to led me towards a career.