Hi there! I’m Emma, and I’m a 3rd year International Relations student at the University of Edinburgh and I’m also a Brownie and Guide leader. During this very strange academic year, I think anything that allows us to engage with other people and feel like we’re helping the community can only be a good thing.
Are you a volunteer who’s keen to encourage students in your local area to get involved? Maybe you’re a student who’s thinking about volunteering for the first time or you were involved at one point and would like to pick it up again in lockdown? Here’s four reasons why it’s a great idea!
University can definitely feel like it exists independent of reality sometimes. Especially when things are hectic and stressful, it’s so easy to forget that there’s more going on in the world than that one essay you’ve been ignoring in the hope it’ll write itself (spoiler alert, it never does, but I still live in hope). That’s one of the things I really enjoy about volunteering with Brownies and Guides – it’s a chance to engage with a different community in my city and do something positive which is completely different from my usual student life.
At the moment it seems like all of normal life is on hold, but one thing that’s really kept me sane during the last ten months has been volunteering! Pretty much from the start of the first lockdown, my Guide unit has been meeting weekly online, doing a whole range of different virtual activities. It’s great for the girls, because it gives them a chance to see other people and do something a bit different, but it’s been so beneficial for me too. Especially when I’ve been living alone with limited social interaction.
For some people, that weekly commitment isn’t what they’re looking for but there are other ways to get involved. Girlguiding leadership teams are very understanding that student schedules are hectic and can change a lot so there’s flexibility for you to do as much or as little volunteering as you want- whether that’s weekly unit meetings, or just helping at events. While we’re all doing virtual Guiding, I’d say that now’s a better time than ever to try out volunteering because you don’t even have to leave home!
There’s also opportunities to take up roles beyond becoming a unit leader or helper – you can take up a position of responsibility within your district or division. This year, I’ve taken on the role of co-district commissioner with a guiding friend of mine. It’s quite a lot of responsibility at times, but I’m learning a lot about leading a team of adults, and it’ll look really good on my CV too!
In a year where everything has been anything but normal, carrying on with volunteering and helping run online meetings has helped me to get some structure and purpose back into my week. It’s always been a welcome change of pace from doing my degree. So, if you’ve given up volunteering since starting college or university and you’d like to give it another go, or maybe you’ve never been involved before, I’d definitely say go for it!