It’s week 2 of Volunteering Ventures!
This week, I spoke to John Sennett who at the age of 23 is a volunteering ambassador for us all! He’s a volunteering junkie, just like me!
Here’s what John had to say!
What is your name, age, volunteering role/roles?
I’m John Sennett, 23 years old (hard to believe I know!) and I’m currently a Volunteer Ambassador. I also write a blog called John’s Road to Volunteering, which is dedicated to using my volunteering story to inspire others to give back to their community.
Who do you currently volunteer for?
My role as Volunteer Ambassador is with Southampton Voluntary Services, meaning I’m basically a voice for volunteering in the city.
When did you start volunteering?
I started volunteering back in December 2012. Since then I haven’t stopped. My blog started in September 2014.
How did you get into volunteering?
At the time, I was very unhappy with my job, so I left knowing I had no plan for my career.
Volunteering was my way of pinpointing my future, along with making a difference to those I volunteered with.
I started volunteering with a local disability charity, and I soon realised I had found a passion for helping others.
What do you like about volunteering and your volunteer role/roles?
The major benefit for me about volunteering is knowing I can leave each time with a smile on my face as I see the smiles on those I’ve helped.
My role as Volunteer Ambassador is so rewarding as I get to meet so many people from all walks of life and different levels of experience in volunteering, so I’m able to not only inspire in my role, but also learn.
Writing John’s Road to Volunteering as you can imagine is undeniably rewarding! I get to use my experiences as a volunteer to help others in their journey, and when I have the opportunity to work with a charity to hear they’ve generated leads from a blog collaboration, I can’t ask for more.
What are some of the challenges of volunteering/your role/roles?
Most people can back me up when I say the hardest challenge is time, but when you love what you do time isn’t an issue.
A lot happens in the voluntary sector, so I’m having to constantly learn new things, and I need to ensure that when I speak to someone about volunteering, I’m up to date with my knowledge and they’re happy with the advice I give.
It provides a real opportunity learn individual needs and wants, so even though it’s a challenge not knowing at the start, when you have understood one person’s wants, it becomes easier and easier to help the next person and so on.
With the blog, it’s a bit different.
The real challenge is ensuring prospective volunteers are engaged at all times, which is why I blog daily.
I talk for England, and with so many ideas going on in my head, I’m always testing my knowledge gained from my current/previous volunteer roles to create brief but in depth guides to enlighten someone’s conceptions of volunteering.
How has volunteering helped you?
How long do you have? I can’t justify how much volunteering has helped me, but also changed my life.
I started with no relevant experience/qualifications and to think I’ve now volunteered over 1500 hours and gained so many skills, with my confidence at an all-time high, it still shocks me how far I’ve come and what’s happened throughout my journey.
Volunteering has enabled me to stand up for the causes I believe in, and having built many connections across the world, I’m able to say without volunteering I wouldn’t know where I’d be today, and I certainly wouldn’t have a blog.
Why do you volunteer in the sector you volunteer in?
I’m actually in the voluntary sector, so I’m able to work with those in other sectors; sport, mental health, young people, heritage, disability, the list goes on, but working in the central point for volunteering has allowed me to learn so much.
I’m always pushing myself to step outside of my comfort, which will help me to become the best person I can be. I believe I mentioned it above, but I love working with others from different backgrounds to me, as it’s a great chance to share stories with one another and use that to help those you’re helping.
Describe a typical day as a volunteer.
My current routine is very much different to what it once was. As I only have 1 volunteer role, as well as the blog, I tend to blog daily, but my volunteering role is only on Thursday mornings, with an event here and there.
The blog I tend to start in the afternoons, as I tend to workout early in the morning, and then it’ll differ from day to day. I sometimes spend 6 hours doing all my work, which could involve creating a social media strategy, planning a month’s worth of blogs, contacting charities to be featured on John’s Road to Volunteering or coming up with new initiatives. I’m also writing a book and planning to start a YouTube channel, so I’m relatively busy at the minute.
Do you have any tips for people who want to volunteer?
My 3 biggest tips are research, try and believe.
Before you start volunteering, research potential opportunities in your local area and learn more about the charity/organisation you might be interested in, in detail.
Knowing how you’d like to get involved is a massive thumbs up from charities, but if you don’t, don’t be afraid of giving something new a try.
I didn’t know what I wanted at the start, but look where I am today.
The last one is believe. I was pretty much an introvert before I started to volunteer, but I put myself in a position where I had to believe in myself from the start.
The most powerful tool as a volunteer is you! Don’t be afraid to believe in your ideas and say no to others if you don’t agree.
Volunteering is a platform for your voice to be heard.
You can follow John’s journey on his blog and on Twitter – @JohnRdToVol.