Why I volunteer at Warwick and how you can too!
For today’s blogpost I thought I’d leave the academics aside and concentrate more on something I really enjoy doing: volunteering. It hasn’t always been easy handling a demanding degree, having a decent social life, juggle extra-curriculars and volunteer, but let me tell you: it’s so worth it. There are a few aspects of my commitment I wanted to talk about: how you can start, why volunteering is so amazing, and perhaps share a some tips that might help you decide if it might be an commitment you’d be willing to take.
I’ve only started volunteering in my second year at uni, even though I had an interest ever since I’ve arrived at Warwick in 2017. I found it very hard to commit in my first year, despite it being the less academically demanding out of the three my course entails, and looking back I do regret not starting before. However, I need to remember to cut myself some slack: I had just arrived to a new country, embarked on an adventure I knew nothing about with people I did not know. I needed time to figure out how to best handle myself through all of these changes, and I’m glad I did in the end because it has allowed me to feel more secure in starting new endeavours this year.
The easiest way to get involved in volunteering from campus, when you know nothing about what you might like to do, is probably ‘Warwick Volunteers’. Their offices are at the SU’s HQ, but all of the important information is on their webpage: https://warwick.ac.uk/about/community/volunteers/. On here you’ll find all the different volunteering opportunities they offer, from helping at a dog kennel to visiting the elderly, they really do have something for everyone, so I highly encourage you take a look. Even if you know you cannot commit your time regularly, they offer one off volunteering events which means you don’t have to compromise between work and charity. However, you don’t necessarily have to go through ‘Warwick Volunteers’, plenty of societies on campus offer such possibilities: for example STAR (Student Action for Refugees) run weekly English classes for refugees taught by student volunteers. Have a look at the list of societies registered with the SU, you might find something suited just for you!
Even if charity work is something you should do out of altruistic sentiments, I believe there are plenty of benefits to the volunteers. Personally, I find that completely focusing on another task for hours at a time gives me a break from stressing out for uni or my personal life, and helps me refocus on my priorities. I’ve had friends go to craft volunteering sessions and come back so relaxed from the afternoon they spent helping out make cards for children in hospitals. Paradoxically I know that the time I’ll want to volunteer the most will be towards the exam period. It really does help me regain perspective on my life: grades and university aren’t the center of my universe and offering my time to help others reminds me of that. Furthermore, volunteering will make you meet exquisite people, whether you are working with them or helping them I’m sure you’ll be able to make some really meaningful relationships though this kind of commitment. Also keep in mind that ‘Warwick Volunteers’ issues volunteering certificates if you’d like to show your future employers.
However, there is something to keep in mind before committing to a project: you should come first. If you know your mental health is not at its best please select volunteering projects that will not deplete you even more. I suggest steering towards less emotionally demanding commitments, this way you’ll still be and feel helpful towards your community without putting your mental health at risk. Putting yourself first also means that you have to seriously reflect on whether you have the time to make long run commitments: if you’re unsure about it, it’s better to embark on less time demanding projects so that you’ll not run the risk of dropping out half-way though.
Volunteering should not be onerous, but it can be demanding, especially if you volunteer regularly. This is why you should seriously reflect on the projects you’re going to commit to, because you have responsibilities towards yourself but also towards those you’ll promise to help. I’ve had to put in some extra work and do some extra compromising, but I would never go back on my decision to volunteer at Warwick.