Bob, a volunteer on our Talking Together project in the West Midlands, told us about the impact that volunteering had on him and the joy he felt that it could change lives:
Recently I volunteered to teach 12 introductory English lessons over six weeks at Jetshop in Aston. Fired by high octane enthusiasm and lower octane capability I set about delivering what I hoped would be the students' first steps towards a mastery of the English language. Well ok, competency maybe. Halfway through the course I was beginning to have some serious doubts. Despite my best efforts, unfailing energy and internationally adaptable sense of humour (a smile is the same in every language right?) I appeared to be making very little headway.
One student in particular seemed to be struggling with the work and with what appeared to be a crippling shyness whenever I tried to coax a response from her. With some one-to-one work and lots of praise and reassurance she began to blossom. She practised constantly at home and soon became the star pupil of my little group.
I suppose that it's only natural to feel a certain sense of pride in seeing someone who you are teaching begin to flourish academically. But for me the real sense of achievement, the real joy in fact, was seeing the huge change in her self-confidence that learning some basic spoken English could produce. I don't think it is an understatement to say that for her the course was a life changing event.
She wasn't the only student to improve of course but she is the one I will remember because of how she made me feel. I felt I had done something truly valuable and worthwhile.
That is why I volunteer!
If you'd like to get involved in our Talking Together project in Birmingham and Leicester, take a look here.