HCRI students share their volunteering stories

Many students from HCRI’s courses go onto varying careers in humanitarianism. It can be difficult to get paid experience in the sector as a student, and volunteering is highly valued by employers, showing dedication and initiative, as well as insight into the challenges faced by organisations working to help others.

HCRI spoke to their current students to find out what kind of volunteering they’re involved with while completing their studies, how they’ve adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what they’ve gained from offering their time to various causes.

Filipa Correia de Almeida Serranito, 1st year BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response, with a minor in French

Filipa Correia de Almeida Serranito‘I volunteer for Translators without Borders, translating pieces of research and other informative documents of several subjects. Since I have a good knowledge of languages, I decided that contributing to this project would be a great way to dedicate my time. Through this work, I was able to gain more knowledge about humanitarianism and new organizations of relevance to my areas of interest. Translating documents about the complexity of the humanitarian field has also shown me that I am in the right course and has made me love it even more. Apart from this, I was also able to improve my language skills and received some great insights from other translators in the project.’

Freya Stanton, 3rd year BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Freya Stanton‘I have been volunteering with Reach Out to the Community for over a year. I normally volunteer in their charity shop but currently myself and another volunteer are looking to start a Depop account to cover the shop's temporary closure. Throughout the pandemic, they have been providing invaluable support to people experiencing homelessness, by helping them into accommodation and providing three meals a day. Volunteering with Reach Out to the Community has really opened my eyes to homelessness, and being a local charity means that volunteering in the shop isn't just sorting through donations and working at the till, but also having a cup of tea and a casual chat with clients and really seeing first-hand the difference being made.’

Holly Vipond, 3rd year BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Holly Vipond‘In 2nd year, I volunteered twice a week doing a breakfast shift at Beacon Barnabus, a homeless organisation in Gay Village. The shifts included preparing breakfast and getting to know those who used the service. It was a really great experience which was sadly cut short due to covid, but definitely something I would do again in the future! Recently, I’ve become a social media coordinator for Tanzania Development Trust, who provide funding to a wide range of grassroots projects in Tanzania with focus on topics such as FGM/female sexual health, clean water, business empowerment and education. I work with a small team to control social media channels (mainly Instagram) in which we aim to provide greater awareness for the work TDT do.'

Kiya Hornby, 3rd year BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

‘I started volunteering for TLC: Strive in December 2018 as a Researcher. My role was to find organisations/activities that could be added to the signposting information that is used to help direct clients to other support networks. I chose to volunteer to learn new skills that my degree possibly could not teach me. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to network, meet new people and potentially further my future career. When the UK went into its first lockdown, Strive had to change the way they worked and moved to an entirely virtual operation. During this, they gave me the opportunity to begin a new position as a Virtual Visitor and provided me with the training needed to be able to interact with clients over the telephone or Zoom. This means I am now one of the people who is suggesting some of my previous signposting research to clients!'

Emily Parsons, 3rd year BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Emily Parsons‘This semester I have been volunteering with the organisation Migrant Support. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that I have been unable to complete any in-person volunteering, I have been involved in Zoom sessions which have been focused on helping refugees with their conversational English skills. I have really valued this experience and have enjoyed interacting with both the refugees and the other volunteers. During uncertain times it has felt nice to feel like I can do something productive and help others.’

Beth Amos, MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response

Beth Amos‘The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Conversation Club has been a rewarding and fun project that has allowed me to connect with a variety of people as they practise their conversational English and settle into life in Manchester. Covering requested topics such as cultural traditions, Black Friday (and even cycling proficiency!), I have personally found it really interesting to hear stories from around the world in one room in Debdale (or on one computer screen)! I would encourage students to use their English to support learners and join the society.

Antonio Yao, MSc International Disaster Management

Antonio Yas‘Since October, I've been part of a team of who’ve gone to a homeless shelter in Stockport weekly and cooked a hot meal for the people there. Every week we cook something different and serve it up to whoever's hungry. Unfortunately, it’s been on pause due to Covid but after lockdown, we’ve planned to go twice as often! I’ve met some lovely people with a similar passion for helping the community. Cooking with them has been fun and my cooking skills have improved as a bonus! But the greatest benefit from the experience has been meeting the people at the shelter. I have been fortunate in my life so far that I have never been close to the reality of being homeless. Meeting and talking to these people has widened my view and made me appreciate more what I have in my life.'

HCRI Postgraduate Bursary (Volunteering Theme)

It’s great to see students enhancing their time at HCRI by getting involved with volunteering. If you’re interested in studying one of HCRI's Master's courses in Autumn 2021, they’re offering a full-fee bursary for current University of Manchester undergraduate students, or Project Trust Returned Volunteers, who are able to demonstrate how their volunteering is relevant to studying at HCRI, and their vision of helping others in their future career. Applications are open now.

If you’d like to get involved with volunteering, The University of Manchester’s Volunteering Hub is a great way to find local and international opportunities, and there’s something for every interest, availability and skill area.

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