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A Life Volunteering

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Student Volunteering Week 2013 with National Union of Students, Student Hubs and Barclays.

Thomas Holt, Second Year Children's Nursing, Edge Hill University, aged 24.

I am studying to be a Children's Nurse in Edge Hill University, but outside the class room I am a Jujitsu Instructors Assistant, A Beaver Leader, Cub Leader, Scout Leader, a Mentor, a 1-2-1 tutor and a Childline counsellor - I am just hugely passionate about getting involved.

People often ask why I do what I do and how I can get up in the morning knowing I have 12 hours of children's activities to plan and run along with assignments and Uni work. The truth is I enjoy every second of it. No matter how bad a session has gone, I look at the smiling faces as the children leave and think of the difference I am making.

There is nothing better than popping into the local school for instance to talk to a teacher or work with a child, to see 40 faces shouting "IT'S TOM", each closing in on me for a high-five. Who would know that turning up at one of the school's football training sessions would mean so much. All the kids know I couldn't kick a ball to save my life, but cheering them on in the cold frosty mud meant the world.

I've been working with children since I was about 16, when I became a Prefect to support younger students in my school. That was the turning point for me. Seven years on I look back at I think I have physically helped or spoken to well over 3,000 children in a voluntary capacity and this number grows every day.

It doesn't matter whether I speak to a child through Childline on the phone, or if I spend years building a friendship, they all get the same treatment and I hope they all leave with the same positive experience. In my volunteering time I've been a drama, music, homework club organiser, sat on seven different committees, worked with 11 different charities in two different countries and words cannot describe what a time I've had!

People wonder why I volunteer for the charities I support. But I believe that if you're passionate about an area, no matter what, you should pursue that area of interest.

People sometimes joke and laugh about how long my CV must be. Jokes about killing trees with all the paper I use are far too common, but it's not about that and never has been. It is true I have been asked about previous experiences in interviews and once I get started well I keep talking.
My interview for university is a good example. Upon leaving the interview room I met a girl outside who simply said "If my interview is that long I'm in trouble". Volunteering looks good on your CV and many places require it, but it's not just what's written on paper or how much you do.

If you have volunteered, for whatever reason, you will learn something from it. Volunteering helps you to either build yourself or discover something new you like. It gives you something to talk about at an interview - and finding something you're passionate about makes you look more employable.

I leave you with these words of wisdom:

Volunteering should be something you enjoy, something challenging but something fun. There is a volunteering opportunity out there for everyone. Do what you like, but like what you do. Make it your passion!