We are celebrating Volunteers Week, which runs between the 1st and 7th June this year. To mark this special week, we will be publishing a blog post every day from one of our staff members who started out as a volunteer with Advonet.
Bushra Javed, our Peer and Volunteer Advocacy Manager, talks about how she started out as a volunteer bilingual advocate whilst trying to improve her skillset.

What got you into volunteering with Advonet?

13 years ago, I found myself in a place where I didn’t have any qualifications or work experience but needed to find employment. I had been a mother and carer for my parents and son most of my life.
My parents had now passed away and my son was an adult and, thankfully, mostly independent. I looked for a volunteering opportunity where I could use the skills I had gained.

How did you feel about volunteering and what did you learn?

I was initially very unsure about volunteering and only did it to help me find employment. I quickly grew to love the work and learnt so much; I improved in confidence and ability.
I gained IT skills in addition to taking courses in administration and management. I met the most kind and caring people, many of whom I still have friendships with.

How did you move from volunteering into a paid role with Advonet?

I started volunteering for the Bilingual Advocacy service, but then an internal vacancy became available, which I applied for. The manager applied for additional funding and more opportunities were presented, which enabled me to develop and increase my experience and abilities.
I progressed through the roles of Volunteer Coordinator, Bilingual Advocacy Coordinator and I am now Peer and Volunteer Advocacy Manager.

What would you say to someone who wants to volunteer with Advonet?

I would strongly recommend volunteering. I feel it is a huge benefit to the lives of most people, whatever your circumstances and abilities. It can help you find employment, gain experience, friends, skills and reduce isolation. You are helping people in a positive way and much more.