Mat Enright: What volunteering means to me
Posted on 31 Jan 2015
Volunteering has been a big part of my life since I was a child.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when I was seven years old. When I started to recover I was really motivated to try and do something to help other people in a similar position to myself. I saw a competition from Macmillan in our local newspaper, asking for suggestions for names and mottos for their new Thames Gateway appeal. My suggestion of post tenebras lux (after darkness, light) won and I became more and more involved in Macmillan’s great work. I took part in cycle rides, organised sponsored silences and “The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning” at my primary school. I was asked to give speeches to large groups of doctors, nurses and Macmillan staff. I also got invited to some great events with Macmillan, such as motorbike displays by the Royal Artillery and ice hockey matches.
I continued to volunteer for Macmillan and other cancer charities until I unfortunately relapsed with Leukaemia at 15. But this only spurred me on. A year after finishing chemotherapy and radiotherapy I travelled to Tanzania for a month. Myself and a group of 12 others, helped at a school by taking lessons and building a vital cesspit. We also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raising more money for charities.
I became involved with a charity called the Diana Award towards the end of my time at school. The Diana Award engages, empowers and encourages young people. Through the Diana Award I have helped to organise a national event for anti-bullying week, have been trained to mentor young people and even represented them at Downing Street.
I continued to volunteer, raise money and donate throughout university. I joined the exec for a society called “pick and mix sports” which encourages students to play sports regularly by hosting a different sport each week in a non-competitive environment.
"Through volunteering I have been able to practise numerous skills: public speaking, presenting, event management, organisation, networking, team work, persuasion and negotiation. These are all vital in the workplace environment. "
I now work at Barclays Corporate. I thought when I started working I would have to reduce the amount of time I spent volunteering. The reality is that I now actually volunteer more than I did at University. Barclays really encourages volunteering. During my time here I have co-hosted an awards ceremony for inspiring young people at our global HQ, kayaked up the Thames to raise money for the Diana Award with colleagues, mentored young people having difficulty getting employed, launched a social media campaign for a mental health charity and helped to clear up a local park. On top of all these things organised through Barclays, I am also actively involved with Great Ormond Street Hospital where I am part of a youth forum, as well as a school governor at a local primary school.
I find volunteering extremely rewarding. I love to help others and get a real joy from the volunteering that I do. Volunteering has had an incredibly positive impact on me. Socially, you get to meet lots of people, share ideas and experiences and have fun. But volunteering has also helped me in countless ways professionally. In today’s competitive work landscape, employers want experience. Through volunteering I have been able to practise numerous skills: public speaking, presenting, event management, organisation, networking, team work, persuasion and negotiation. These are all vital in the workplace environment.
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