I first started volunteering when I helped advertise and run community coffee mornings and organised a community first aid afternoon. More recently, I have helped coordinate the Cambridge Schools Ebola Crisis Appeal and have begun volunteering as a ward helper at my local hospital. I realised a short time ago that all of us have ideas about how to improve our communities and how to create change, and that the best way to do that is to get stuck in and involved in community projects and initiatives and if they aren’t there yet, to create them yourself!
Attending grassroots events like Be the Change in Cambridge (http://bethechangecambridge.org.uk) this is a project to bring Cambridge’s many communities together to do more than just talk about our city’s future, but to decide what shared actions to take in order to shape it ) was a great way to galvanise discussion about topics that I feel are important, like youth engagement in our community. The fact that the event was run, led and facilitated by ordinary citizens like us was particularly powerful. I wanted to present ideas about how to better get young people involved in local democracy and decision making, because we are going to be the future citizens of the city and our views are particularly important. It was great to be able to talk these ideas over with other attendees and present them at the end.
Be the Change Cambridge was a brilliant event because there were so many people who were equally passionate about their own causes and communities. It was great to be involved in conversations led by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign on issues like cycling provision in the city. Whilst there was a small group of us sixth formers there, it would be fantastic if more young people realised that they also have the power and voice to be able to meaningfully contribute to such events – which unfortunately are often dominated by adults. Young people often come up with ideas and solutions to issues that others overlook, and I would encourage more young people to get informed and get involved.
Volunteering can be tough at times and being on on the hospital wards isn’t always easy, but it is by far one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Even making someone a tea or stopping to have a chat can really brighten someone’s day, and the feeling of having made a small difference is great.
Along with a group of students from my sixth form college we set up a campaign called the Cambridge Schools Ebola Crisis Appeal, which aimed to link schools across the area in a fundraising effort to raise money to combat Ebola. So far we are really proud to have raised several thousand pounds, and it was truly a team effort. I was responsible for getting government involved in our campaign, and was extremely happy to welcome Julian Huppert, then MP for Cambridge, to our open evening where he supported our fundraising efforts.
Helping to run a campaign is definitely time consuming! Organizing and liaising with lots of different people takes a lot of effort, but when you realise that it is helping raise money for an important cause it is certainly worth it. One tip – don’t do it alone! Get help form friends or family to help you get started if you want to set up your own initiative.
You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to be able to fundraise, volunteer or work for charity, only perseverance! Be comfortable in the knowledge that what ever you do, it is likely to be making a positive difference, however small. If you are setting something up by yourself, find a team to help you because it can be hard work.
I definitely want to continue to volunteer and be involved in my local community. My aim is to get other young people interested and involved as well.
The great thing about Cambridge is that it is a diverse and open-minded place, which is why I like living here so much.
A great free thing to do is to visit the Anthropology museum (maa.cam.ac.uk) . It may be a little niche for some people’s liking, but its exhibitions are really intriguing and educating and remind me of what a diverse world we live in.
A fun fact about me would have to be that I would like to learn how to play the accordion!
Ultimately I hope to become a doctor and work in international aid.