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My Experience Volunteering

Poppy Mansfield Jones


(For Volunteers Week 1 - 7 June 2021)

Hello! My name is Poppy, I’m eighteen years old and I love to volunteer.

There’s something so fulfilling about getting involved in a new community, meeting people and doing something good with your time. It ensures that no matter how dreary your week has been up to that point, you know it will be made a bit brighter through the act of making a positive impact.

I began volunteering in a small and familiar way. My grandmother was involved in creating the Umbrella Centre in Canterbury and I would visit the centre with her - starting when I was eight years old.

I’d help in whatever way I could but usually spent my time entertaining the more elderly people there. I’d often be asked to sing or I’d simply have a chat while joining in on their classes.

As I’ve gotten older and had more control over my own time, (I’m currently on a gap year), I have made sure to get more involved in charitable organisations again. There are many ways to volunteer, it really depends on what you enjoy and how you would like to spend your free-time. You can volunteer abroad, locally, or even from your own home! It is completely up to you.

My first bit of voluntary work this year was at my local food-bank. I would spend Friday afternoons packing bags and stocking shelves. It was a really enjoyable role as I got to speak to other volunteers, move around a bit, learn new skills (how to pack a bag of groceries as quick as possible) and make a useful contribution to my area.

The next bit of volunteering was abroad! I went to Croatia for a month and a half to volunteer in a no-kill dog shelter. The dog shelter had an incredible community of local volunteers there all hours of the day. The way they treated these dogs and their acceptance of any dogs brought to them made me rethink the way I looked after my own dog back home. I also fell completely in love with one particular dog, Ronald, who was adopted while I was there… it was an incredible cultural experience.

When I got home I began volunteering at a local charity called ‘Books2Africa’. One day a week I would scan donated books, from 9am to 5pm, placing them in their specific genre so they could be categorised into before being sent to Africa. I eventually got employed at the charity and now work three/four days a week. It’s a great job. I speak to my colleagues as I work, listen to music or podcasts and go on walks at lunch since the warehouse is located in some beautiful fields.

While all the volunteering I’ve talked about so far has been outside of the home there are many ways to volunteer and learn new skills while at your own desk. Start It Right have been a great example to me of how a community can be built despite physical distance. I have got to know everyone involved in the organisation due to our regular calls and meetings, and I have learnt how an social enterprise is created and developed over time along with how to expand it. It has given me such an incredible insight into the world of the nonprofit sector and shown me how my experience can be useful to such an organisation.

Along with Start It Right, I am also volunteering from home as a content creator for the environmental charity Force of Nature. This week I wrote an article on fast fashion and last week I wrote on sustainable careers. We have frequent meetings and are often offered training programmes. As someone who has been out of academic institutions for a year it’s been a great way to sharpen my essay-writing skills while supporting a topic I am passionate about.

Volunteering doesn’t just have a positive effect on those you’re helping, it also impacts you as the volunteer. You might meet new people who become a part of your life forever or you might learn a new skill that you never thought about trying before. Whatever role you’re placed in you will get something worthwhile out of volunteering.

You can find out more about our Board Member Poppy here.


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