Volunteering can make a real difference

There are many different volunteering opportunities available and a high number of organisations seeking volunteers, so how do you choose? Shaun Connell from the Business Enterprise Fund shares this experiences with the Raising the Bar marketing team.

When and why did you volunteer for Ahead Partnership?

“I came across Ahead Partnership and their programmes while searching online for mentoring opportunities.

Ahead Partnership brings employers and education partners together to create focused employability activities which build confidence, resilience and aspiration. Reflecting on my own school experience, employability activities were minimal, boring and uninspiring.

Once I became aware of the practice interview sessions, taking a morning out of my schedule to help pupils was an easy decision for me and an easy one for my boss to support as corporate social responsibility is part of our company DNA.”

Please tells us about your volunteer experience.

“I was one of twenty business volunteers who participated in practice interview sessions with over 200 Year 9 and 10 pupils at a high school in Bradford.

Ahead Partnership were clear about their expectations of pupils, staff and volunteers. Their communication and briefing included everything I needed to make the most of my time with each pupil. That included a set of questions to ask, tips on how to help pupils feel at ease and pointers for feedback.

I interviewed and gave feedback to ten pupils who were fantastic, full of energy and ambitious! Most had never been in an interview situation in their life. They included future teachers, doctors, a Premiere League footballer and a car salesperson who all benefited from the sessions. I’m confident that exam success, focused development and my feedback will help them achieve their dreams. I wish them every success with their future study, interviews and careers.!”

What difference have you made?

“First impressions count so my goal was to help each pupil understand the importance of good preparation, a good first impression and good communication. From experience, those three things make or break any interview.

Each pupil walked away with encouraging words about their interview technique and future life opportunities – study hard, develop the skills and support network needed to be success you want to be.

The feedback from Ahead Partnership let me know that my messages to the pupils were well received.”

Tell us about a memorable moment

“My most memorable moment was talking with a confident young man who wanted to be a car salesman. As a former salesperson, I decided to check out his sales technique. He asked all the right questions to understand my wants and needs before presenting the right car for me. He was spot on and his delivery was textbook. He could work and perform well in a car showroom with minimal training. Very impressive.”

What have you learned?

“A former headteacher used to say: “The builders make the building; the scholars make the school.” My volunteering experience taught me that there are many ways to teach. While teachers help pupils achieve academic success, others like me can help pupils develop life skills.”

Would you recommend volunteering to other people?

“Absolutely! Making a positive impact in someone’s life is highly rewarding. We can all impact someone in a positive way. Our little part may go a long way to helping them achieve or even surpass the dreams, goals and ambition they have for themselves.”

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