To mark Volunteers Week, I wanted to share my recent experience of volunteering as a Policy Assistant at the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA), as well as all the great aspects of volunteering for charities! In the short time I have volunteered for the Digital Poverty Alliance, I have learnt many new skills, been involved in exciting projects, had opportunities to build networks and attend exciting events, including a Parliament Summit and afternoon tea in the House of Lords!
I first decided to volunteer for two main reasons. The first was my personal connection with the DPA’s vision and my motivation to help people experiencing digital poverty. Over the last few months, I have seen how my work has helped people facing digital poverty directly and was even lucky enough to talk to some of the Sixth Form students who benefited from donated laptops through our Tech4Schools Scheme in Partnership with Amazon. Hearing how these laptops enabled the students to complete their coursework and study at home was a truly rewarding experience. The second reason I chose to volunteer, was my enthusiasm for learning new policy skills, developing my public affairs knowledge and using these to help others. At the DPA, I have done just that. I have learnt about the different types of digital poverty and its many consequences in employment, education and health, to name a few. I have gained the skills I needed to engage with policymakers and to influence government policy, gained experience working collaboratively with other sectors and organisations, and knowledge of how to deliver expert panels and plan events, amongst many other transferable skills important for a career in Policy.
There are many more benefits of volunteering, both for the volunteer and the charity. Volunteering can boost your confidence, allow you to make contacts in the sector you want to pursue a career in, fill skills gaps and even lead to permanent employment. For the charity, other than increasing their capacity, having a volunteer in the team can bring in new perspectives and provide current staff with mentoring opportunities or managerial experience. At the DPA, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from very talented colleagues, share my ideas on how to raise awareness of digital poverty, understand more about the operational and strategic functioning of charities and meet many influential people from across the private, public and third sectors. Volunteering has been a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience and has even led me to find a meaningful career in external affairs, an area I am passionate about and very much enjoy!
Author: Adele Kersey, Volunteer Policy Assistant at the Digital Poverty Alliance