Meet our Community Champions and find out about their volunteering projects
The mutual benefits of volunteering told by our first Community Champions:
Jay Sidpara | YMCA, Reading
Jay Sidpara, a second year student in Geography and Economics, started volunteering with YMCA Reading in June 2020. YMCA Reading is charity which empowers young people and provides supported accommodation to Reading’s most vulnerable 16-25 year olds who would otherwise be homeless. YMCA Reading has been active in Reading since 1846 and is one of the oldest YMCAs in the world.
Jay has been helping YMCA with their social media and said the best thing about volunteering as a Community Champion is “working with great people and having something valuable to do during lockdown.” It’s also given him some food for thought in the future: “I’m interested in starting a charitable organisation - seems like the CEO really enjoys the work she does!”
Arlene Kersley, Chief Executive of YMCA Reading said: “We asked Jay for specific help getting social media posts out and to set us up on Linked-in. He hit the ground running and is regularly posting Twitter and Facebook postings for us and we are seeing increased online traffic as a result.”
Jenny Putnam | Alana House (PACT)
Jenny Putnam, a third year student in Animal Science, started volunteering with Alana House in May 2020. Alana House is a local community project which supports and empowers vulnerable women, and is run by Reading-based charity Parents and Children Together (PACT). Jenny supported the charity during the coronavirus lockdown, when they had to switch from face to face support to digital communications.
Here’s what Jenny had to say about her volunteering:
“Alana House were looking for an extra pair of hands to help out due to the coronavirus putting more demand on them. The reason I wanted to help is because I understand how difficult this situation has been for people, especially those who are in more trying situations and I wanted to do whatever I could to help out people who may be facing an extra struggle.
I wrote blogs posts about wellness, hobbies, exercise and ways to stay busy. I also gave Alana House some ideas about ways to engage with the women more - they have with the zoom calls and so I gave a few ideas, which I thought may help to interest more women/a wider audience! Before this role, I hadn’t even heard of Alana House so through my own research I have definitely learnt more about the charity."
Laura Rogan, a senior support worker at Alana House said:
“The materials that Jenny sent over have been really helpful and informative, and work well with what we are trying to achieve with our clients during lockdown. Jenny has been keen and flexible and I’m looking forward to working with Jenny further.
Romilly Hryczanek | Bounce Back 4 Kids
Romilly Hryczanek, a first year student in Chemistry, started volunteering remotely in May 2020 to support Bounce Back 4 Kids, a support programme for children who have been victims or witnesses of domestic abuse.
The programme is run by Parents and Children Together, a Reading-based adoption charity which provides a range of support to families. Like many charities, PACT was put under additional pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.
Romilly met with support workers at the charity on Zoom to discuss the support she could provide. She has compiled and redesigned support literature for the charity and hopes to do more.
Romilly said: “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to help others during this difficult time. I have learnt a lot about domestic abuse and developed my IT skills. I would like to do more with this charity in the future.”