Volunteer Mentor – Catherine’s Story
Catherine is studying BA Sociology at Coventry University and is spending her third year as a Volunteer Mentor with City Year UK in a local Coventry secondary school, allowing her to put what she has learned so far into practise. She tells us what it was like finding a role during the pandemic, and what she has gained from working in a school during such an uncertain time.
“I spent weeks researching placement opportunities but most had been cancelled due to Covid-19. City Year UK was one of the organisations still actively looking for applicants for in-person placements, so I looked at the website, attended a virtual Q&A, watched videos about previous volunteer mentor’s experiences, and spoke to family friends who work in similar sectors supporting vulnerable children.
I chose the City Year placement because I wanted to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds by building strong connections with them for a whole year. Alongside gaining valuable experience of working in a school during the week, the programme is designed to assist both your personal and professional development through Leadership Development days every Friday.”
All of this experience will be advantageous for my future career
“City Year aims to accentuate your strengths and skill set. For instance, I work closely with the inclusion team at my placement school in Coventry to support pupils with Autism. I mentor my focus list pupils daily by checking on their health and wellbeing, assisting them with difficult schoolwork, and encouraging them to think about their future prospects. They have given me a lot of responsibility allowing me to be able to apply knowledge acquired from my degree in a real-world context.
Working in a school during the pandemic has required a lot of determination and problem-solving. Everyone was unsure about how well schools could combat the obstacles of Covid-19, but my team and I have persevered through this uncertain time and overcome every new challenge with creative solutions.
The majority of the Leadership Development days have taken place on Zoom, which has enhanced my digital skills. Now, I can confidently lead online meetings and efficiently use tools like screen-sharing and breakout rooms. All of this experience will be advantageous for my future career.”
Volunteering has made me realise my full potential
“I am already half-way through my year of service with City Year and I feel like I have learned and accomplished so much. You do not need to be the loudest or most confident person to meet the requirements.
I would highly recommend applying for City Year, it is a well-organised programme. There have been many great opportunities to challenge myself from public speaking events to planning Social Action days to establishing professional relations with my team and the rest of my cohort.
I am so grateful that I have been able to both develop myself and support young people for my placement year. Being a volunteer mentor is incredibly fulfilling and the impact unforgettable.”