As part of #iwill week Volunteering Matters, our Communications Coordinator, Abbie, spoke to one of our own members of staff, Eden-Mae Davis. Eden started her youth social action journey with us before going to grow a career as an Engagement Manager. 

Eden has been with Volunteering Matters since she was 18, when she hoped to simply fulfil her university course requirements by volunteering. Since then, being involved in youth social action has helped her personally and professionally. She chatted to us about her experiences, advice, and why she would recommend volunteering as a young person.

“My reason for getting my foot in the door with volunteering wasn’t the reason I stayed and I carried on.”

“I started volunteering due to my university course, but all the roles I could find were very similar, and I wanted to find something different. That’s how I discovered youth social action work – where young people are encouraged to lead the change in their communities. My college tutor sent me through Volunteering Matters and it looked amazing.” When Eden gave it a go, she found herself running sexual health workshops, doing arts and crafts, and even flying out to Brussels for a volunteering conference.

Despite it being a course requirement, Eden says “I think my reason for getting my foot in the door with volunteering wasn’t the reason I stayed and I carried on.” Instead, it was the supportive environment and the projects themselves that encouraged her towards a career within a charity. “I was on a completely different path when I came to Volunteering Matters, my plan was to end up in social work! I think through volunteering I got to experience different career pathways, and it helped me to see that where you want to go is not always where is right for you. I learnt a lot about how to be professional too, I was shown a lot. Skills like writing emails, appropriate dress wear for work all that sort of stuff! School doesn’t talk about volunteering as an option for things like work experience when it can be so beneficial.”

From smaller volunteer commitments like writing letters with Mind, or something bigger like running sexual health workshops with SAFE, Eden says volunteering has helped her in ways she didn’t even expect. “You get to explore about yourself and your community. Giving up your time is such an amazing thing, because outside of a work environment, you do learn what kind of person you are and how you handle things. My advice would be just do it! Have fun with it, try new things. It’s not a waste of time if you don’t like it, you’ll always get something out of it even if that’s just knowing you don’t like it. You’re never too old to volunteer either.”

If you have heard Eden’s advice and feel inspired you can get involved here!

What is #iwill week?

#iwill week is an annual celebration of the work young people are leading up and down the UK. This year it is taking place from 21 – 25 November. We want to encourage meaningful conversations amongst all of us who work in the youth sector around how we can continue to support youth social action into 2023.

For more information visit the #iwill movement website.