“As I filled in my volunteer application form early this Summer, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for.
I was a few weeks into the Summer of my second year at university, and I had spent the majority of that time at home in Cardiff doing nothing of much note. As three totally empty months of Summer stretched out in front of me, I knew that more than simply wanting not to waste this time, I wanted to put it to good use.
I also knew I wanted to put the time to good use in my hometown. Having grown up in Cardiff, I had long been aware of the severity of homelessness and rough sleeping in the city; it also meant that I had lived very near The Wallich for years. It was a no-brainer: I visited their website, downloaded the volunteer application form, and filled in the blanks.
In the space of a few days, I was sat inside the converted Church I had walked past every day on my way to and from the school bus. This, I learnt, was The Wallich’s central services building. Over a cup of tea, various members of The Wallich’s team asked me about my interests and skills, and suggested that I come in once a week to volunteer with both the Fundraising and Communications teams.
The process was quick, organised, and simple. Just as much emphasis was placed on what I was keen to get out of volunteering as on what they needed an extra pair of hands for – something which remained true throughout my time as a volunteer.
During the two months I spent at The Wallich, I learnt much more than I could have anticipated. Through approaching businesses, shops, and schools with the Fundraising team to build partnerships and develop fundraising projects, my confidence has grown and my communication skills have improved. Working with the Communications team to help develop The Wallich’s new website taught me brand new and invaluable digital skills, and I was delighted to be able to work in both Welsh and English.
I was assigned a volunteer mentor, Sian, a current member of staff who began her time at The Wallich as a volunteer. She checked in with me to get a feel for the tasks I was enjoying, to discuss her own work at The Wallich, and to create a clear work plan for the months I was there.
So, too, did I feel as though the rest of the team valued my contribution, and sincerely wanted me to gain and learn from my time with them. I learnt just as much from the conversations I had with various team members about their work and their journey to working at The Wallich as I did from carrying out the tasks I was assigned week on week.
Volunteering at The Wallich was by far the most valuable thing I did this Summer. I would urge any young person with a bit of time to spare, an eagerness to learn, and a desire to work with a team of kind and committed individuals to consider volunteering here, too.”