Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Meet our Volunteer Lucy for National Volunteers Week!

If you've popped into 54 St James Street on a Tuesday over the last year, no doubt you've had the pleasure of meeting The Women's Organisation's star volunteer Lucy.  Today is Lucy's last day with us as she is moving on to pastures new (we will miss her so much!), so we wanted to take a moment to reflect on her time with us.  As it is National Volunteers Week we thought it was a great opportunity to find out what Lucy has learnt about volunteering and what advice she would give to others considering taking up voluntary work. Here is what Lucy had to say when we sat down with her:

Lucy Cashman
What’s your full name, what area are you from and how old are you?

My name is Lucy Cashman. I am 21 years old and from Maghull, Liverpool.

What made you approach The Women’s Organisation for a volunteer placement?

At the time, I was entering my final year of university and thought it would be beneficial to get some office experience to add to my CV. I saw that The Women’s Organisation was looking for a volunteer receptionist to cover front desk and help with some general admin work. I did my research and found out more about the organisation. As a Sociology and Media student, I agreed with everything the organisation stood for and thought that this would be the perfect place for me to be. I made contact with The Women’s Organisation and shortly after met up with Laura Anderson. Laura asked exactly what it was that I wanted to take from volunteering and made sure that the role suited me and my time constraints as much as it did The Women’s Organisation.

What were you doing prior to volunteering here?

I was a full time student in my second year at the University of Liverpool, studying Media & Sociology. I also had a part-time job in retail, where I still currently work.

What did you hope to get out of volunteering with us?

I originally just hoped to gain office experience, further my skills and enhance my CV. I realised I had one day a week to spare in-between university and work and thought I should take the opportunity.

What have you learned while you were here? Have you developed any new skills?

I assisted the admin team on reception for 7 months, learning the day-to-day running of the The Women’s Org. office and 54 St. James Street. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in admin and improved my office and organisational skills hugely. I was then given the opportunity to join the engagement team. With a keen interest in media, this was perfect! I worked alongside Jo Austin and Abi Inglis (the digital gurus) and learnt all about the world of social media. Jo threw me in to the deep end and set me a number of tasks allowing me to find my feet in what I enjoyed the most.    

Lucy volunteering on reception
What has been most interesting about working here?

I assisted Bernie Cox in a Women’s Empowerment course over a 4 week period. It was one of the highlights of my time here at The Women’s Org. I met so many different women with stories to tell. I also got to work alongside the fantastic Bernie, who is so amazing at what she does.

What will you take away from the experience?

I’ve learnt that hard work definitely pays off. Despite joining as a volunteer Receptionist, The Women’s Organisation has been great in giving me the freedom to join new teams and be involved with different projects. I began as a Receptionist and I’m leaving as a Media & Engagement officer! I have grown and developed in a number of ways, learning skills that you cannot learn from a class room. Experience is everything! I have also met so many wonderful people that work within and alongside The Women’s Organisation.

Why do you think volunteering is important/useful?

Because you really won’t know until you try something. Working as a volunteer, you have the freedom to adjust the working in and around your own schedule. It is the perfect opportunity to experience something you haven’t before and develop new skills.

What is your next step and future goals?

I have officially finished university and will graduate late July. Since being at the Women’s Organisation, I have decided I would like to pursue a career in marketing and PR. After a wonderful 10 months at The Women’s Organisation, I have developed the skills and confidence to go for jobs within this sector and have landed myself a new role in PR that I will be starting mid-June.

Do you think your career journey is any different as a result of your placement?

I have always had no idea what career or sector I wanted to go into. Since being at the Women’s Org, I have been surrounded by 4 different teams that I’ve been able to observe and learn from- 2 that I was able to work within! I believe that all experience is good experience, and I now have a much clearer vision of the type of jobs I would like to go into.

What advice would you give to other women considering looking for volunteer placements?

I would absolutely say, go for it! Pick an organisation that matches your own values- a place that you would want to be involved with. You are giving up your own time, unpaid! So make sure that the role can be beneficial to both the organisation and yourself.

For me, I simply wanted to experience the office environment and broaden my skills. However, my time at The Women’s Organisation has gone above and beyond these initial aims.

Is there anything else you want to say about volunteering or The Women's Organisation?

I would like to thank everyone at The Women’s Organisation for welcoming me into the office and being such a pleasure to work with. I have enjoyed every moment.

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