I’m George and I’ve been interning at Volunteering Matters on the Grandmentors project in Ipswich. I’m a third year Social Policy and Sociology student and did this placement for four months over the summer in-between academic years. I wanted to do this placement because Grandmentors builds on what I’ve studied at uni such as the charity sector and social care. I was lucky enough to start this placement because the department my course comes under offered a bursary for doing an internship and was then kept on after my placement would have finished.
Volunteering Matters is a national charity that operates on a local level. They aim to create projects that are tailored to the community they are in. The charity operate by working with all pillars of the community to help vulnerable people across the board. This is done by running different projects that encompass different groups to have the biggest impact possible.
The project Grandmentors, which I’ve been interning on, offers the opportunity for people over 50 to volunteer an hour each week (or equivalent) to mentor a young person. These young people are generally not in education, employment or training (NEET), they are aged 16-25 and are currently in care. However, due to their age, they will be leaving care to start an independent life. The project aims to support these young people to develop the skills necessary to live a successful life independent of the care system through a sustained period of mentoring (up to one year).
The experience in general has been fantastic as it’s been completely different to working in hospitality, which is what I’ve done part time for the last four years. Thus, it’s been great to work in such a new environment that requires a different skill set. It’s also been great meeting the variety of people I have through Volunteering Matters from the other employees to the volunteers and beneficiaries.
I got to be involved in every aspect of the Grandmentors project at all levels. This included the match events, the recruitment process and a Grandmentors’ away day I attended with all the project officers and managers involved in Grandmentors. Furthermore, the tasks I carried out also varied greatly as we had so much going on with the project.
Following this, Volunteering Matters as an organisation has had a massive impact on me in terms of my professional and personal development. This is because of a plethora of different reasons as I’ve done a multitude of things while interning. This is the first time I’ve worked in an office but the time spent interning has given me the experience necessary to navigate a professional environment in the future. I also did a lot of administration which included creating spreadsheets, filing documents and assessing risks. Aside from the general office work I also got to be involved in the exciting aspects of the job such as the match events which included a tour of ITFC and Bake Off. In terms of my personal development I would say working for Volunteering Matters definitely boosted my confidence as I had to do things outside of my comfort zone at times such as calling important people from local organisations and asking them to help the charity by donating prizes or attending the Golf Day fundraiser.
While interning I’ve also seen how the work Volunteering Matters is doing has had a positive impact on people. An example of this was on a recruitment day where we had four of the young people on the project do a workshop with one of the interviewees at a time to see how the interviewee interacted with the young people. During the interactions some of the young people spoke about how much the project has helped them build confidence and self-esteem and move from NEET to EET. Furthermore, speaking to the Grandmentors it’s clear it has given them a sense of fulfilment and purpose as they are giving back to the community, which is what Volunteering Matters is all about.
Overall I can say I got to do a bit of everything while at Volunteering Matters and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. To get involved you don’t need to intern or be a Grandmentor, as there are so many opportunities on offer at Volunteering Matters.
If you are interested have a look on the website and there is guaranteed to be a project that you can get involved with! For more info see the link or email Dionne who manages Grandmentors Ipswich.