I looked into volunteering because it was something that I had never done before and at a university careers talk they told us the benefits of volunteering – “73% of employers would employ someone with volunteering experience over someone without” because it shows a significant dedication of your time to better the community.
I personally have a huge interest in Immigration and Asylum Law and the worldwide implications. I have never been taught about this but I enjoy researching and reading about it myself and I achieved my Extended Project Qualification in college by writing about specific implications of the Visa. However. I have never had practical experience in this. So, I searched, first, for volunteering roles relating to my degree (Law) in my university’s volunteering section and this is where I found SWAP, this was so in line with my interests and after reading the role descriptions, I decided to apply for the casework role.
“The door said ring the bell – should I? Or should I just walk in with absolute confidence?”
After further research, I found the role description- the most memorable part that stuck with me for weeks was “Working at SWAP is always a rollercoaster ride, you will meet people, learn things, and experience things you never thought you could do in Wigan.” I thought I really need to volunteer here. After lots of retail experience I knew this would be a totally unique role. I excitedly printed and read all of the information available. And after emails between Emma and myself we decided a date I could start – 9th November at 10am.
I confidently got out of my car… and walked the wrong way. I asked a man walking his dog to point me in the right direction and he showed me SWAP’s front door– the one directly in front of me when I was first parked– oops. The door said ring the bell – should I? Or should I just walk in with absolute confidence? I chose the latter because waiting for someone to answer the door would definitely be fear-inducing – ‘biting the bullet’ and walking right in avoided that nervous few seconds.
I introduced myself to Emma and Maria. Maria proclaimed jokingly that she was ordering toilet paper for SWAP, I immediately relaxed. We spoke about how I am going to start my own academic blog, and we decided that SWAP would also benefit from a blog, as a busy and experienced charity they have lots worth blogging about. Which is exactly the reason I am writing this.
“I admired the high level of mutual respect the women had for each other – it was an environment of encouragement and friendship.”
Then I sat in on the women’s only ESOL class, where I admired the high level of mutual respect the women had for each other – it was an environment of encouragement and friendship. I haven’t really witnessed this in a classroom before because I usually work with younger people who are focussed on their own independent work. But here I saw all of the ladies doing the same work, helping each other with the correct pronunciations and this was amazing.
After the class finished I went to speak to Emma again and met other people external to SWAP that help with the medical side of migration. Then the day was over, I left to go home and read over the huge document of casework information Emma had written. I also compiled a list of blog ideas and recorded the most memorable parts of my day at SWAP.
I really look forward to doing this weekly, I’m glad I found that front door!
It is exciting to help start a new project at SWAP by creating this blog. This is a space to provide current information about SWAP’s experiences. This is a new role Emma and myself have created. It benefits me in terms of developing my writing and allowing me to record my own progress at SWAP while also benefitting SWAP, getting new clicks on this blog develops interest and provides a new, online space for volunteers to document their experience and write about events related to SWAP and to document SWAP’s progression. Watch this space.
All views are my own – this post is from my perspective, as a new volunteer.
 Research by Reeds Recruitment agency for the charity Timebank