The Journey of Volunteering – a Volunteers Perspective
As part of #iwill week, Georgina from Melin Homes shares her story of how volunteering helped her to develop her skills confidence and experience to land her first job with Melin Home.
Cynnal Cymru member Melin Homes is a leading Housing Association in south east Wales providing affordable homes for tenants in South East Wales. As a registered social landlord they work closely with local authorities and other partners to build thriving communities. Their mission is to make a positive impact on neighbourhoods by providing high-quality social housing to those who need it.
Paula Kennedy, CEO of Melin Homes says:
“We are passionate about developing our relationship with local schools in every borough we work. We recognize the importance of developing, encouraging and embracing the young people of today. We want to create opportunities for as many 10 – 20 year olds as possible, this will enhance their skills and strengthen communities. We will continue to develop our schools programme, apprenticeship opportunities and our youth group The Volume.”
Georgina, Melin Homes:
I see every person that volunteers on a journey, a journey of self-discovery and one of the realisation that if you do good things, good things come to you. My journey of volunteering started off at age 13, with my mum pushing (ok forcing) me to go to Melin Homes’ youth forum meeting. My assumptions? Boring, I’m not going to enjoy it and I wouldn’t know anyone there.
After that meeting, I was so excited about future opportunities, I’d made a start on making new friends, and it was definitely not boring – there was free food!
I’m now age 22, and when I reflect back and look on my journey I’m very grateful of every opportunity that has come my way, it’s definitely shaped the person I am today.
I volunteered from the age of 13-18 years old and I had an amazing 5 years growing up with Melin, covering festivals, community events, and helping around the offices but it soon came time to leave school and go in to the next stage of my life – work. I knew I didn’t want to go to university, and didn’t know what career I wanted. I hadn’t passed my driving test, never had a job before, and quite frankly didn’t think things were looking that good for me! But then, a maternity cover post came up at Melin, and I thought, why not George. Give it a go! The only trouble was… you needed to be able to drive, and I was still doing my lessons. Melin then offered to pay for six lessons and my driving test. I passed, just two days before my interview. I thought I did my best, and that’s all I could do, but had convinced myself there was bound to be more experienced people applying too. To my surprise, as soon as I walked through my front door, I had a phone call saying I had got the job. Shocked as I was, I was elated! I had just gone in to an officer’s role, without having any job experience. But, it soon came to fruition that it was my years of volunteering that had got me the job, they knew I got what Melin stood for, the way they interact with their residents, how I worked, and that I was capable of managing a workload in a busy environment. My volunteering journey, led me to my work journey. And I’m not just a one off, around nine members of staff at Melin, have also started off as volunteers!
I’ve now been at Melin for four years, and during that time have had various roles and opportunities. Just because I work though, I still haven’t stopped volunteering! A year ago, I won a competition in work to go to Cambodia to build a less fortunate family a home. This is hands down, a stand out moment and the most amazing 10 days of my life thus far. It was an eye opener to realise that there is nothing more rewarding than helping other people, and being part of a community.
My most favourite and my current role is being a Schools Co-Ordinator, facilitating the delivery of Melin’s school offer over the five local authorities we work in. I now also help to run the youth group of Melin – ‘The Volume’, giving something back to the support they gave me! I get the opportunity, to enrol other young people, and give them the opportunities that I had growing up.
My volunteering journey won’t ever stop, and who knows what I’ll be up to in years to come.
So my message to you all, start your volunteer journey today – you just never know what opportunities it will open up for you. The possibilities are endless!
#iwill is a UK-wide campaign aiming to make participation in meaningful social action, like volunteering, campaigning or fundraising, a normal part of life for young people aged between 10-20. WCVA are managing the #iwill campaign in Wales on behalf of Step up to Serve.
Working in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action WCVA, Cynnal Cymru will be encouraging our members and supporters to pledge to the #iwill campaign to help enable youth social action within their organisation.
If you would like to find out how your businesses can get involved please get in contact with lynsey @cynnalcymru.com
Thousands of volunteering opportunities across Wales can be found at www.volunteering-wales.net