Shreya Shrikhande is a student at Royal Holloway University and is part of their Community Action Volunteering programme
When did you first start volunteering?
"I started volunteering in my first year of university, when I heard about an opportunity to teach English as a second language to 15-18 year olds, including asylum seekers and refugees from the Middle East, Palestine and Eastern Europe. I didn't have any teaching experience, but was given lots of training."
How often do you volunteer?
"I do the voluntary English teaching for about three hours, once every two weeks. I'm now also involved with the University's Community Action Volunteering programme which helps Royal Holloway students to volunteer in the local community. I help organise recruitment and training for two different volunteer projects – the English teaching and a scheme called Contact the Elderly."
What does Contact the Elderly involve?
"It's a project run in partnership with Age UK. We organise monthly tea parties for elderly people living in isolation, who are referred to us by the charity."
What do you find most rewarding about the volunteering you do?
"It's great to see the people who come to the tea parties grow in confidence and start to make friends. It's also really rewarding to see the change in the young people who I teach English to. They've all been through a lot but have really big ambitions and work so hard. You get this incredible sense of satisfaction from helping people who want to learn so that they can integrate into society, and seeing how happy they are to improve."
Why do you think volunteering is important?
"As a student it can be difficult to donate money, but what you can give is your time and skills. Volunteering is also independent of the barriers of race, gender, nationality and language. Anyone can get involved – all you need is to want to help people."
To find out more about Community Action Volunteering, visit their website.
To speak to someone about volunteering where you live, get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre.