WHY I VOLUNTEER - NCS GRAD, USMAN
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It’s National Volunteer Week, so we decided to speak with NCS grad and volunteer extraordinaire, Usman.
Usman took part in NCS in summer 2015 and went on to work on programme in 2018. Since then, he’s joined the Volunteer Police Cadets, become an #iwill Ambassador and a Kids Network Mentor – he’s an all-round social action superstar!
We sat down with him and asked how he got into volunteering and what advice he’d give to a young person who’s also interested in helping others in their free time.
Hi Usman! So, first thing’s first, how did you get involved in volunteering?
Hey! I started volunteering after joining the Volunteer Police Cadets. I learnt about the cadets through my cousin who was studying public services and he encouraged me to join.
Awesome. You did NCS in summer 2015. What skills did you pick up that helped you with the Police Cadets?
It definitely had a benefit! Through NCS I learnt teamwork skills and met lots of other young people who wanted to help improve the local community. During the social action phase, I learnt about the local charities working in my community. I’m still in contact with them now, and I refer people to them who may need their services.
As a regular volunteer and being involved in a number of panels and community projects, I’ve been able to build a network and call upon these people in times when I needed support to make something happen! In 2018, when I worked on NCS, I was able to use these connections to launch a shoe box project with my team.
The idea they had was to give shoe boxes filled with necessities to the homeless and they wanted to support a local charity called Noah. Through the partnerships I'd built we were able to get all the necessary items that a homeless person would need e.g. toothpaste, toothbrushes, scarves, shoes etc.
What do you love about volunteering?
I love it all! From the planning through to the doing. I especially love working with all sorts of amazing young people, from those with learning difficulties to those from a range of different backgrounds. It’s incredible to see the opportunities they’ve accessed and the successes they’ve gone on to achieve!
What do you find challenging about volunteering?
Detaching myself. As a volunteer, I have been in many situations where I have worked with vulnerable young people or those who have disabilities and sometimes when I've left at the end of the night it has been on my mind. I've been thinking, “What else can I do?”. Sometimes it is just out of my control and it's hard to comprehend that I can't help any more than I already have.
What are you most proud of achieving?
Oooh, ummmm – ahhh! I’ve received a number of awards and I even got to meet the Prince of Wales! I was proud to receive the ‘Luton & Bedfordshire Young Person of the Year’ award and the ‘High Sheriff's Young Person of the Year, RYP - Lifetime Achievement’ award.
What advice would you give to someone looking to volunteer?
Do it! There are loads of opportunities out there and it can literally start from one conversation. I thought I’d do two years as a cadet and that would be it, but it’s been years and I’m still at it! I’ve also been able to go and join a number of projects both as a team member and as a leader. If you want to develop your skills, it’s the best way. You’ve just got to be open to opportunities when they come your way and say yes to them!