Tag Archives: volunteering

The experience of work

So on the show recently, we discussed business, and different aspects there in, and I wanted to look at unpaid work, and whether it is something you should seriously consider/does it actually help. We looked at volunteering on an earlier show, and I am no stranger to the concept of volunteering. I have done it in one form or another over most of my life.

But there is a difference between volunteering and interning – something which has been in the news for a while. In a job market where there are plenty of graduates and people with a lot more experience, it really does seem to be an employers market. But there is a difference between what is expected from a volunteer and an intern.


Interning is more or less the same as the work experience weeks you will have done while at school and may have been part of your course at college or university. It is a chance for your to shadow people, to get an idea of what the job actually entails, experience the business environment. You gain valuable insight to the company, as well as training that can stand you in good stead for seeking a job. But internships should not be long term. They are an excellent way of getting your foot in the door, of giving the employer a chance to see if you would be a good fit for the company.

Now not to sound too negative, getting work experience is a great idea, it gives you a chance to learn new skills, a chance to network and figure out if the job is right for you. But you need to make sure that you are not being used. An internship should be a week, 2 at the most. It needs enough time for you and your potential employer to figure out if it is a good fit. However, having an internship does not imply there is a job at the end of tit, It is equally likely that the company has a busy time ahead and needs some extra hands.


Remember you don’t have workers rights as an intern – this is why they are very short term arrangements. The moment there is a sign of a contract or agreement for full time hours and or responsibilities – you need to ensure that you are being paid, at the very least the minimum wage. No matter how much you want a job, don’t allow the employer to push you into a situation you can’t afford to be in.

But there is another angle you might want to think about – giving your time for free, because is something you love. It doesn’t need to be big, is a friend might be setting up a new business and you can help them with advice or an extra pair of hands. Or maybe you can help at an event, there are many different roles that need to be filled at fetes, runs, festivals. Could you run a stall, or a work shop, even be a steward? You can look at this as an opportunity to network, maybe get paid next time. If you don’t have strong enough skills or confidence to want to charge to your time, doing things for free can give you a boost and change to practise your skills.


If you are starting, or running a small business, you will not have enough money to pay staff, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, put a shout out, discuss your business with people. You never know who might be able to give you a hand, often people will be able to give at least a little of their time for free. Just make sure you don’t push too hard or you might end up with people being resentful.But, and this will sound more like me, the self titled Social Media queen that I am (I love social media… its amazing!) – reach out. You never know what skills or connections people have. Often people forget as well and need a nudge.

What I would say, don’t jump into something feet first. You are going to need to have an income for at least the first 2 years, so take your time and gather skills and knowledge as well as the savings to help you on your way. If you are serious, make sure you are doing something you love, but not at the risk of ruining what you love. Don’t pick something you enjoy to unwind relax, or take a time out as a new career. Unless you have something else to do in the same situation, you will not only hating something you previously loved but potentially burnt out.

A signpost directing work life balance

Well to round up as I have covered a little ground here – if you are looking to change your career path, see if you can get a little work experience, shadowing. You can do this within the company you already work at. It is often encouraged and will help you make decisions about whether it is right for you. It will mean losing out on free time in the short term but will have long term benefits. Even if you realise it wasn’t for you, at least you know!

Next, offering your time for free – do you have a skill, a hobby, knowledge that you can pass on? There are so many places to do this, charities, local communities, schools, church groups often rely on the help of volunteers. It is important to make sure you are CRB/DRB checked if working with children. It is also worth making sure you know who is covering insurance, for example if you are going to help out at a local Family Fun Day by doing a workshop – are you already insured? Will the organisers cover you? Yes, it is boring but better safe than sorry! Even if you don’t feel you have a skill or knowledge to offer, ask around and see if there are any ways you can help out! It is a great way of getting to know new people, feel like you are part of the local community and do a little net working!


Lastly starting a business – this is a biggie! It isn’t something i have every done, and therefore not the best person to ask. I have an earlier blog post covering help and advice from some very talented friends of mine. Remember, never be afraid to ask for help, you never know how might be able to help! Networking is fun, don’t overload people though. Make sure that you are making time for yourself and still have time outside your new business venture to unwind – starting your own business takes a lot of guts, it is ultimately rewarding though! Never be afraid to ask for help and advice though!

Have fun, remember, this is not the employers market, don’t let that attitude make you undervalue yourself! Don’t be afraid to try something new, it may not work out but equally you might find a new love! Have fun, enjoy yourself! 

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Volunteering – Abroad

Last weeks radio show was about volunteering, and the lovely Jaye Cope recorded a piece on her experiences for us. I have the transcript below for you, including all the relevant links. I don’t know about you, but when I listened to her, I had tears in my eyes. I hope this inspires some of you! (i have used Jaye’s photos in the body of the article)

Link to the shows FB page : https://www.facebook.com/livethemomentradio/?fref=ts


My Name is Jaye and i spent my summer volunteering at Aspire Orphanage in Cambodia.


Aspire Training and Education is an Orphanage and School based in Trang Village just outside of Siem Reap. It was set up by Mr Sean Samnang on the 14th November 2012- he lives on site with his wife Borey and his 3 children. Two of his children attend school there but the youngest is only 25 days old! Aspire is a Non-Government Organistation that relys on donations and funding from outside parties, businesses, individuals and volunteers.

Currently Aspire is home to 40 children offerring them education, protection and a brighter future. Each child is treated equally and given the opportunity to grow up as children should in a safe and positive environment.


The school provides lessons in English, Traditional Dance, Japanese Lessons and more recently computer lessons for the older children.

Sean has previously helped 5 students gain employment and currently there are 4 students who wish to finish University and help at Aspire by becoming teachers themselves- this truely is a great testament to Sean and the opportunities Aspire brings to each child.

My time at Aspire

After initially signing up for 2 weeks volunteering 7 weeks later i had to leave to catch my flight home.
I spent 7 weeks being a teacher, a friend, a footballer, a brick layer, a gardener, a walking climbing frame and above all i was a student. I learned so much from the children and adults there- they truely inspired me and put a lot of things in to perspective for me! I made friends that turned in to family and memories that will last a lifetime. I miss them all very much but i will heading back at Xmas after ive completed fundraising for a Xmas party for them all!



Whilst i know i live in a country that has provided me with free education, opportunities and many safety nets if it all goes wrong. Cambodia is a beautiful country with friendly, inspirational people but life is very hard for the vast amount of people there. There are no safety nets. If you have no money your family doesnt eat. Then to be a child in that situation where either your parents can no longer look after you or you find yourself on your own is not a nice thought where ever you live in the world.
It is cliche to say i want to help make a difference but it is clear that Aspire has and will continue to have a positive impact on these childrens lives and i will be supporting them any way i can.


Where are they now plus long and short term goals

Currently the new school building and volunteer house are partly in process but this work has temporarily stopped due to a lack of funding- the current classrooms are wooden with tin roofs and open sides which make it sometimes impossible to teach due to wind, rain and even the heat.
Progress is slow but it is happening and everyone remains positive and is looking to the future.

Long term goals at Aspire is to secure a sponsor and complete the new concrete school building and volunteer house. This will secure Aspires future and that of the children that live and learn there and will give them the room to grow, employ teachers and open its doors to more children in the community and ultimately give everyone a brighter future.
With the completion of the new school building the next step will be a library for the children- it will be in the new building so the books will be protected from the elements.

Short time goals but also the most important is ensuring Aspire is able to run on a daily basis.
A personal goal for me is to set up a UK based office for them in order to fundraise over here.
Aspire has already started working towards becoming more self sufficient and now have a small garden area, chickens, a cow and a fish pond to provide a source of food and income.
Currently Sean makes a monthly rice donation to the families of children who attend school but live in extreme poverty- I know they are looking at expanding this to more families in the community.


    My next goal for Aspire is to raise money for a Xmas party for the children and their families- i am hoping to raise £1500. The money would pay for food, soft drinks and a small present for each child consisting of 1 item of clothing and a new school set (book, bag, pencil). Every child deserves a special Xmas- your donation will help towards making it a Xmas to remember

If you would like any more information on Aspire then please contact me on via the methods below.

If you would like to make a donation to the Xmas fund then please go to my just giving page:

For monthly donations, sponsorship or volunteer inquiries please contact me on 07775868295 or Jaye.cope@gmail.com

Aspires FB page:


Volunteering with animals

Paula Ruane recently discussed her volunteering with me as part of the Lifestyle:MK show about the same. Although it was featured as part of the show a couple of weeks ago – and you can find links on the page https://www.facebook.com/livethemomentradio/?fref=ts – I figured that it would be worth putting my discussion with Paula into a blog post so you can all get a better understanding – I have included all the appropriate links as well. This is the extended version as I did run out of time on the show! I hope you enjoy reading this, and it inspires!


Paula, what volunteering do you do, and what does it involve?

I work mostly with bull breed specific dog rescues and an ex battery hen rescue. The work I do with the dog rescues involves attending the homes of potential foster carers or adopters to assess the suitability of the living environment and to discuss the details of the dog’s care such as exercise arrangements and veterinary costs. This is what is known as home checking.
I also participate in transport relays when animals are being moved from unsuitable situations to a rescue facility or from a rescue when a suitable home has been secured. The transport runs are a series of handovers at rendezvous points.

Another aspect of my voluntary work is what’s called cross posting. This is the sharing of appeals for homes, support, rescue assistance and fundraising online, mainly on social media and using the connections in my network to generate the maximum exposure for the cause in question. Much of my cross posting activities are centred around “overdue” dogs for people known as pound pullers. Pound pullers essentially remove unclaimed dogs from the pounds by finding rescue spaces or foster homes for the animals in order to prevent them being euthanized after the standard 7 days.

You mentioned working with battery hens as well, what does this entail?

The work I do with the battery hens is much the same as the work I do with the dogs but I also assist by taking part in collection days when a number of homes within a certain radius have been found, there is a set rendezvous point and the new owners all collect their hens from the one place. The hens are rescued from commercial laying farms at around 18 months old because their laying has slowed after intensive farming so they are sold for slaughter to be replaced by young birds. They are treated for parasites and vaccinated then homes are found.
The hens are rescued by www.homes4hens.co.uk


It is easy to see how important the work you do is for the animals, but what do you personally get from this?

Yeah, I meet the cream of humanity in the people who rescue, transport and adopt/foster. I feel better about myself knowing that I did a good deed and I find it life affirming to know that I gave a small amount of time to make a huge difference and the sense of achievement is worth more than money.

I’ve had 2 hopeless cases be adopted this week, directly from my Facebook posts and tags. One was a dog at risk of being killed as type under the dangerous dogs act simply because of his appearance and he was also out of time in the pound. The other was a little dog who was taken from Gumtree to save him from the fighting rings but he was scared of being left alone and was aggressive to other dogs so was about to be pts. Both were adopted this week, they were the 2 boys who have been really personal to me despite never meeting them. This is what rescue and welfare gives back, love and tails that never stop wagging xxx


Paula, you really are amazing!

Diesel I only found out about today and maverick was fostered almost as soon as I shared him and adopted by his foster mummy this week. Its kinda self serving though I get such a kick from it xx Its a miracle to see so many people giving a shit when there’s such a disposable attitude to animals.

and some of the dog charities I am involved with are

www.bedsforbullies.co.ukwww.adoptabullterrierrescue.co.ukwww.bulliesinneed.org.uk and www.underheughark.weebly.com

The pound pullers are assisted by www.poundsforpoundies.co.uk who raise money to make things like emergency kennelling possible by paying for dogs to be boarded in privately run kennels to get them out of council pounds.

www.newhopeanimalrescue.co.uk are non species specific and are a small organisation who work hard to save lives every day even if it means risking their own and it has been life affirming to have worked with any one of these organisations