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A Volunteer’s Perspective

Written by Lauren Maxwell – Volunteer at ACAA

Coming to ACAA back in September, I had high expectations of the position that I had applied for. Yet while the position sounded promising, I knew that the likelihood was that I would be limited in the tasks that I would be assigned. When someone mentions internship, I, like many others, associated it with making tea or coffee and supporting others in their tasks, with little responsibility being bestowed upon you. Here at the ACAA, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, occasionally you do have to make a cup of tea for a visitor that comes in for a meeting, but you take that on the chin in order to do the vast and varied range of tasks that you are made responsible for.

I count myself extremely lucky to have secured an internship at a small grassroots charity due to the variety of tasks I work on and the fact that I am trusted with important undertakings. I know that I would not have had this opportunity at a larger, better known charity that is able to employ significantly more members of staff to complete funding applications, organise events etc. This is what  makes the ACAA so special to work at as you are given real responsibility and your contribution is truly valued as the charity relies on the work of volunteers in order to further the amazing work it does helping and supporting the local community.

I have had the chance to help with the frontline work of assisting beneficiaries with their queries, writing successful funding applications, as well as organising and co-managing events. Working alongside so many other volunteers gives you a sense of community and friendship within organisation itself, which demonstrates that ACAA practices what it preaches.

Being able to give back to society and assist in the creation of a stronger community is truly rewarding. In this modern era where prejudice and hate crime is rife, it was incredibly important for me to stand against discrimination and be a part of the fight to make society a better place. ACAA aims to integrate refugees and migrants into society, helping them to overcome language barriers and to gain access to all services.

Volunteering for a whole academic year has enabled me to witness the difference that this charity has made and to truly understand the impact that it has on people’s lives on a daily basis. Volunteering long-term and full-time also enables you to contribute more to the charity as you are able to properly and fully engage with their projects. You are also permitted the freedom to create and run your own events, which you would not be able to part-take in if you only volunteered on an ad-hoc basis.

The past four months at ACAA has brought me tremendous joy and I cannot wait to continue my work with them in the new year. I will definitely recommend this placement to my university when I return!

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