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Simron Kandola studied Human Resource Management at University of Stirling and was also named Student of the Year at the National Union of Students Scotland Awards 2017, in recognition of his exceptional volunteering, community and mentoring work. We sat down with Simron as part of Student Volunteering Week to find out more about him and his love for volunteering.
What drew you in to become involved in volunteering?
It was the opportunity to develop transferable skills and experiences to enhance my employability prospects, as well as being able to positively support charities, projects and organisations and being able to enjoy doing positive work that attracted me towards volunteering. It is also the recognition by employers of the value of volunteering that attracted me towards becoming more and more involved within the voluntary sector.
Can you briefly tell us about the volunteering work you were involved in during your time at Stirling?
The voluntary work that I undertook during my time at Stirling included undertaking a wealth and breadth of work on-campus within the Stirling Students’ Union, including being a member of the Volunteer Team (V-Team) and Fresher’s Team (F-Team), being a Course Rep, President of the Stirling University Volunteering Society and Treasurer of the Stirling University Barnardo’s Society. I was also pro-active off-campus within the local community, including being a Shop Assistant for Oxfam at the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Stirling for 2 ½ years.
What are some of your proudest moments or achievements from volunteering?
One of the most proud and enjoyable achievements I have achieved from volunteering included volunteering abroad with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) in Fiji in August 2015 for 3 weeks, which was a wonderful and life-changing experience to volunteer abroad and support local communities. Other proud moments for me included being invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May 2016 in the presence of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Barnardo’s and for raising over £300 through the Stirling University Barnardo’s Society. All of these roles culminated in me being awarded the Student Volunteer of the Year Award at the NUS Scotland Awards 2017 in Dundee, which was a fantastic moment to be recognised for my voluntary and charitable contributions across Scotland.
Did you find it hard to balance your time with volunteering?
At certain times, I did find it difficult to balance time for volunteering, as well as undertaking my full-time studies and my part-time jobs, however, I was always able to work with the charities to reduce my volunteer shifts, when required, as well as change my shift patterns for my part-time jobs, therefore, I was able to continue juggling my voluntary work around my full-time commitments.
Any words of advice to those interested in volunteering but not sure how to make the leap?
I would recommend taking initial steps in volunteering in areas that interest you, such as the education, charity or environmental sectors, as well as considering doing one-off volunteering projects or taster sessions to see whether you enjoy it. You should always take the leap into volunteering as it is a fantastic opportunity to make the most of and you will ultimately gain recognition for being a positive ambassador for helping others and for making a positive difference.
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to continue volunteering at one-off charity events around my full-time studies and eventually, a full-time job such as undertaking the annual Great Scottish Run in Glasgow and regular charity walks to raise money for charities which have directly supported my family members, including Cancer Research, MacMillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.
Do you think volunteering will always feature in your life?
Absolutely! – I enjoy being able to make a valuable and positive difference towards raising funds for charities, even today, as I am currently volunteering as a Shop and Social Media Assistant for Oxfam at their Oxfam Bookshop in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, whilst currently undertaking my full-time Masters studies. I volunteer 4 hours per week and I enjoy being able to make a valuable contribution towards enhancing their social media platforms, increasing profits, revenue and volunteer numbers within the shop. I hope and aim to continue volunteering in some form for the rest of my life as I enjoy it so much!
What skills do you feel volunteering have given or developed in you?
I feel that volunteering has helped me gain a combination of employability skills such as communication, leadership, delegation, time management and organisational skills, which are valued by employers, as well as greatly developing and enhancing my CV, recruitment and employability prospects as employers seek students who undertake positive work outside of their studies and commitments as it shows that you are a valued and positive person. Volunteering over the past 3 years has also helped me to realise the positive contribution and importance that one volunteer can make to a charity, as well as across Scotland and around the world and I believe that everyone should volunteer to help find your passion in life and develop yourself as a positive person! Just a little bit of volunteering can help to make a massive difference!