Full-Time Volunteering: Sophia’s Story

“My name is Sophia and I am 18, I am a Full-Time Volunteer on a Student Choices project in Sheffield where I support a young man with a disability to study at university and to live independently.

I am from Germany and before I came to the UK I was studying Maths, German, Religion, Spanish and French to advanced level, I also studied Latin for 5 years. I made the decision to volunteer following a recommendation from a friend who had volunteered in the UK last year, and I’m very glad I did as it’s been the most amazing experience!

Living in a new country and meeting new challenges, it’s really helped to increase my skills and knowledge, especially my self-confidence and my sense of independence as it’s the first time that I’ve lived away from my parents.

I had three main goals that I hoped to achieve through volunteering and I can honestly say I have achieved them all. They were to be successful in the role, to feel supported, and confirm my career aspirations – and also to enjoy the opportunity!

I definitely feel that I’ve developed a good relationship with the person I am supporting. He’s also had a successful year and recently passed all of his University exams. My interpersonal skills have really improved and I have built good relationships not only with my beneficiary but also with his family and the other volunteers I’ve met.

In Germany I completed a comprehensive training programme before coming to the UK, and I received lots of information from Volunteering Matters so I felt very prepared. During the placement I have always felt supported both by my beneficiary’s family, my supervisor and my Volunteer Manager, who I felt was always there for me.

My placement comes to an end soon and I will be returning to Germany. This year has really helped me to focus on what I want for my future. I’ve always known that I wanted to work with people and prior to volunteering I wanted a career in Social Work, but now I have decided to become a tutor for children at primary level. On my return to Germany I intend to resume my studies and work toward my career goals.

On a social level I’ve enjoyed new experiences. At home I dance in a Rock n Roll band – I have done for 10 years. I missed dancing here, so I’ve taken up Zumba, and I’m loving it!

Volunteering matters to me because it’s given me the opportunity to grow in many ways, to learn and to help others. I feel that I’ve enhanced existing skills, and developed new ones, and I would definitely recommend it to others!”

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