Life as a student volunteer

On the face of it, volunteering whilst at university isn’t something that sounds very appealing. With the financial struggles that often come with being a student why would anyone want to work for free? Psychology graduate, Callum Mogridge, is an example of someone who couldn’t be any further away from that line of thought. During his time at Manchester he volunteered in a number of roles and here he tell us all about each one and explains why he’s such an advocate for volunteering in general.

Callum

My volunteering opportunities

During my time at university I have taken part in a number of things. The first, which I have been doing for years now, is being an Athletics Coach.  I coach at Boggart Hole Clough for Blackley and North Manchester Athletics Club. I love this role because I get to work with some absolutely amazing people and I get to teach younger generations the skills to succeed in athletics.

Another role I took on was to be a Mentor at St. Matthew’s RC High School, Moston. This was an incredibly diverse role which I absolutely fell in love with. Firstly, my main priority was to work with pupils who had an accumulation of social difficulties and social concerns. This part of the job was rewarding, helping children in need who needed that extra support, and watching them develop was great. In this role I also taught Y7, Y8, and Y11 students in areas I’m very comfortable with, such as RE, ICT, Statistics, English Literature, Biology, and German Basics/Grammar. I also had the opportunity to work with KS4 pupils who were removed from mainstream school where I delivered a short Professional Development course, which proved to be a massive success.

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I also went and received training from the Alzheimer’s Society to become a Dementia Champion. This has enabled me to deliver dementia information sessions which aim to educate people about the misconstrued perceptions of dementia. The goal is to create a dementia-friendly society, which is something I am really passionate about.

With the University, I am also a Student Coordinator and a Peer Mentor. As a Peer Mentor I currently support around 40 first year students. I relay information to them, make sure they know that they can count on me, etc. But more importantly, I am the Student Coordinator for the Peer Mentor scheme on the Psychology degree programme. In this I am responsible for leading the Peer Mentors on our scheme, as well as organising and delivering academic and social events for our students. It’s rewarding to know that you’re helping students in their first year of university, which can often be a scary time. The hours put into volunteering, and being a Mentor and Coordinator had me recognised as a ‘Volunthero’ during Volunteering Week, which was great!

supppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppotThe appeal 

I wanted to become a Peer Mentor because I knew how scary first year may seem, especially for students who are new to Manchester. I just think the fact that it enables me to do something really good for people who are in the same position that I once was is really nice.

The Peer Support team are incredible, friendly, and they’re all so much fun, I have never met a group of people who are so enthusiastic about their jobs, it’s really encouraging. I would also encourage people to take on Student Coordinator roles as you get the opportunity to step up and lead an amazing set of mentors.

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Degree distraction?

I would, without a doubt, say that the roles have 100% helped me with my degree. I think it just changes your perspective and prepares you so much for the working world. I think that the skills you develop whilst volunteering can be applied anywhere. For example, in my role as a Student Coordinator, I deliver academic sessions on skills needed in the degree programme. One session I run is titled ‘How to write a lab report’, and I think doing this has actually helped me with my own lab reports because I remember the tips I pass on to others!

I feel as though a lot of students are under the impression that they don’t have the time, but I would honestly say give it a go. It’s all about managing your time day-by-day and never overloading yourself and being smart about stuff. If you are worried that you might struggle for time, and can’t commit to volunteering during Summer whilst you’re back home, then there are short-term opportunities available. The Careers Service is amazing here and can help you with just about anything!

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Tips to budding volunteers

Just give it a go. Seriously, there is absolutely no harm in trying, every role that’s out there is unique, and I can absolutely guarantee that there is something you can do somewhere, no matter what your time constraints are. I mean, this Dementia Champion role, it only requires me to deliver one information session for every 10 months – that is something that i’m sure anyone can commit to.

There is something out there for everybody, whether that be volunteer work with the SU, participating in Volunteer Week, sitting as a Society Committee member, or being a Peer Mentor, PASS Leader, or Student Coordinator, just give something a go!


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