Volunteer management

What I learnt as a DSC Research Volunteer

Ever wondered what it's like to volunteer at DSC? Here's Emilia Privat on her experience volunteering with our fantastic research team!

A few weeks ago I found a journal from 2012 entitled ‘words of the day.’ Inside, my ten-year-old handwriting reveals hundreds of words. As I reread the vocabulary list, it wasn’t how many of the definitions were misspelt, nor the fact that I chose to write most of it in bright pink ink that struck me the most—it was the eagerness and commitment to learning something new every day. As a volunteer at DSC, I revisited a version of my younger self—overwhelmed by how much I did not know but excited to change that. Suddenly, I was not only learning countless new ‘words of the day’ related to grant-making and policy work but also learning about a charity’s vision and how it works to achieve that every day.

I came to DSC because I wanted to contribute to meaningful work. From past experiences as a volunteer at the Indoamerican Refugee Migrant Organization, Enfants du Monde, and UNICEF, I know how much of a vehicle for change charities can be, and I was intrigued by DSC’s ability to challenge government policy and trust funding to help other charities support their beneficiaries. As a part of the Research team, I had the opportunity to contribute to this effort through different projects.

I first worked on a research project that aims to engage the voluntary and community sectors in favour of grant funding, an initiative that allows people to respond to local needs quickly and proactively. By submitting Freedom of Information requests to all councils across the UK, I learned how to communicate with local governments and gained valuable insights into how they distribute grants to the voluntary sector.

I also worked on a research project which explored grantmaking to support the diverse needs of children and young people. I learned that part of what makes research thorough is the anticipation of potential risks so that the content of the eventual report reflects the needs of the beneficiaries as accurately as possible. I particularly enjoyed researching how several charities support education in this context and learning of the challenges facing the young people who were approaching the charities in question for support.

My enjoyment of these research projects over the last few weeks can be undoubtedly attributed to the guidance and support I received from the DSC staff. I felt welcome immediately and am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from so many examples of hard work and genuine passion. As I enter my final year of university, I no longer feel as disappointed that the student chapter of my life is ending. I know I will continue to learn from other experiences, and, to borrow one of my ‘words of the day’ from 2012, pursue my avid interest in policy, education, and the charity sector.

If you would like to find out about opportunities for volunteering with DSC’s research team please contact research@dsc.org.uk

*(I have attached a picture of my journal below for reference.)