we asked Kahina if she could share her volunteering journey before she graduates UoC and starts her next volunteering role in the labs at the National History Museum and London Zoo creating a cyroark database of biological specimens.
Kahina studied forensic and investigative science and whilst doing so volunteered with the UCSU (students’ union), Carlisle world shop (Fairtrade) and as a STEM ambassador.
What impact has volunteering had?
Volunteering in these various roles has made me a much more confident and outgoing person, it has also allowed me to share what I’m passionate about with like-minded people. Having autism I find new people and communication challenges so volunteering gave me the time and space to adapt and develop these coping mechanisms which I then went on to apply to my uni work and life. Even after I’ve finished uni and am moving back to London I have secured a volunteering role at the National History Museum which I wouldn’t have thought about putting myself forward for if I hadn’t got involved in volunteering previously.
What made you get involved?
I had finished my first year at uni and whilst I was enjoying my course and had a summer job, I felt something was missing. Previously throughout college, I had various regular volunteering roles, one being coaching a pan-disability hockey club and another at a city farm, both of which provided a sense of purposefulness and community. So I looked on the UCSU’s (student unions) volunteering page and found the Carlisle world shop which when I went along to talk to the manager the role appealed to me and was a way I could contribute towards the Fairtrade cause. Kati (volunteering facilitator) was great at making suggestions and getting you involved in completely different things, for example, I’ve planted trees on a river bank and helped new students move into halls. Having this variety allows you to try new things, often ones you hadn’t even considered before.
Is an opportunity to meet a wide range of people, of different ages, from different countries and backgrounds who you often build friendships with as well as being a sense of community that you can turn to for support as with the world shop, where we also often organise a big group lunch to spend time together. Volunteering in the world shop allowed me to feel like I was helping a charity and doing some good without having to do so financially which can be difficult as a student. Also allows sharing what you love, in my case science with school children, to hopefully interest and inspire them as it’s something I would have found helpful at their age.
What did you get out of it?
It greatly developed all my employability skills which left me less worried about the future now that I’ve finished uni. It also provided structure and time that I could spend outside of uni doing something completely different. In addition, it made me feel more integrated into Carlisle as I had a considerable number of local people I knew, making me feel more at home here for the last four years.
What do you think you gave back?
I think I have made more people aware of Fairtrade, especially within my student peers and hopefully giving my time has made a contribution to the lives of people working on the other side of the world. With the STEM ambassador my skills, expertise and experiences that I’ve gained throughout uni.
Has anything helped you?
My manager at the world shop has been amazing in supporting me, giving me greater responsibility in the role as well as flexibility and has got me involved in various festivals and stalls which expanded my experiences. Finally, I would say being at uni is the perfect opportunity to try new things, volunteering being one of these as you often have the time and access to the resources from the UCSU to find something that you can have a go at trying.
If you are interesting in volunteering at the Carlisle World Shop please visit:
For the full list of volunteering opportunities in UoC sites and surrounding areas please visit: