I first heard of volunteering during the second year of my undergraduate studies. It was a new concept, and definitely something that seemed very appealing to me. So, after looking at different volunteering roles in Kent, I applied to a mentoring role in a charity called Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) and to the Witness Service.
KRAN is a charity helping young refugees/asylum seekers in every way. They have different volunteering roles available, but the one I was interested in was the mentoring role. This role enabled me to mentor a young refugee/asylum seeker. Whether it was helping them improving their English, or simply helping them with their homework, it taught me valuable skills of leadership and teamwork.
As a mentor, one is portrayed as a leader – someone that the mentee looks up to. I always try and find ways to connect with my mentee, as it can sometimes be difficult for them to be open about their situation. Therefore, it is my responsibility to ensure that they receive the help they need. In addition, mentoring also taught me the value of teamwork, because there are days when the mentee teaches me something that I didn’t know about, for example their different interests and skills. But it is important to highlight that KRAN has been helpful in providing training and meetings to ensure that we have the experience before mentoring a young refugee/asylum seeker.
The Witness Service was established to provide support for emotional and vulnerable witnesses during their trials. This volunteering role has taught me a variety of skills; from building rapport to establishing confidentiality, It is highly significant to connect with witnesses from the beginning to demonstrate that support is available. By covering concepts such as explaining court procedures or showing witnesses a court room, it is important to communicate all this information clearly to make the process more comfortable for them. The Criminal Justice System is very complex, therefore, by easing their nervousness from the beginning, their day and the trial will become more understandable.
I thoroughly enjoy volunteering in both of these roles, and since then, I have extended my volunteering with roles as a receptionist in the Kent Law Clinic and as a Welcome Helper during Arrivals Weekend and Freshers’ Week. Volunteering is definitely worth the cause, because not only does one feel rewarded for helping someone feel included in their community, but one is also able to learn valuable and transferable skills – all of which will be highly beneficial when applying to different job opportunities.