Volunteering within my local community: Developing skills and making a difference.

Posted on: 15 April 2021 in Student experiences

Students volunteering in cleaning outdoor space

Hi, my name is Danielle and I am in my final year of an integrated masters in biological sciences. I am also a member of the ‘Keep Murdishaw Tidy’ group on Facebook, a group of volunteers who pick litter in my local area of Runcorn, a town in the Liverpool City Region.

As council resources have been stretched during the pandemic, neighbours and friends have rallied together to keep the area they live in clean and tidy. The hope was to inspire others in the area to also take care of their surroundings. Each month, a litter picking session of around 3 hours has volunteers walk through a section of the estate which needs a bit of TLC.

The council support the group arranging to collect any bin bags that we fill and PCSO’s join providing litter picks and bin bags so it feels like a real community effort. During the most recent litter picks, we have come across a surplus of rubbish, resulting in 50+ bin bags filled each time. We have seen it all, from the average crisp packet to the strange finds such as shopping trolleys, satellites, and scooters.

Volunteering for the group has been a great experience so far. Not only am I contributing to making my local area clean and safe, but I am also getting a bit of fresh air and meeting lots of new and like-minded people. It is only a few hours a month but I feel a real sense of pride as I walk through the estate now as it is so much cleaner and I can say I helped it get to this point. Having such a busy schedule trying to balance university work, I often feel like I do not have time to volunteer, but now I can see even just a few hours a month can make a huge difference.

I originally got involved in the group because I needed a break from the ‘lockdown lethargy’ I had been experiencing from having the same old routine. This was an opportunity that did not seem to be as limited by coronavirus restrictions since we are outside and naturally socially distanced anyway having so much ground to cover. Because of this, volunteering feels like an escape from the day to day that we have all become accustomed to. I also joined the group because I feel that students have been receiving a lot of bad publicity recently when it comes to littering. Students really do care about the environment and I hope that people can see that young people are trying.

From this volunteering experience, I have developed my team working skills.

There is a lot of litter over a large area so each members’ maximum effort is needed. Volunteering such as this also requires a lot of determination and commitment, key qualities which employers look for. Employers like seeing evidence that proves you are a ‘team player’ as they want to hire someone who will contribute to their team. I think that having litter picking experience on a CV really helps an individuals’ work ethic and community-minded spirit shine through!