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Award Finalist: Liam Rodgers

Posted on 16 Feb 2016

This week we are introducing you to the five students who have been shortlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at our Celebration Event on Monday 22 February.

Today, we meet Liam Rodgers, Creative Writing student at Sheffield Hallam University.

Like many people around the world, life has thrown its fair share of disadvantage my way and when I was younger I had a tough time making do and growing up in a poor neighbourhood. My teenage years were troubled, to say the least, and after a stint in a young offender’s institute I resolved to do as much as I could to give back to society, to give time and energy for good causes. I had wasted so much of my talent and time being of no use to anyone, not even my own family, so volunteering seemed like the only way to prove to myself and the wider world that I had changed.

Growing up in central Nottingham was often fraught, with many kids from poor backgrounds with little to do

In the year 2000, aged twenty and resolved to help in the community, I walked into the Millennium Volunteers office in Nottingham and asked if there were any projects I could join. I was ashamed of my troubled past but I had committed myself to giving back to the world.

My experience of publishing my own novel allows me to help marginalised people to do the same

I was welcomed with open arms by Millennium Volunteers and surprised to learn there are always community projects on the lookout for enthusiastic volunteers. I signed up to half a dozen assignments within a year, including supporting kids with autism, older children in youth centres and supporting other volunteers in their roles.

It was not long before I had paid employment in various charities, which often involved working with the most disadvantaged young people in the country, those at risk of offending or abuse.

UpScribe working with homeless adults in Sheffield

Flash-forward sixteen years to February 2016 and I have my own family and career ambitions and I am studying for a degree in creative writing and running UpScribe, my publishing social enterprise. UpScribe started because as soon as I arrived at university I wanted to do whatever I could to bring my knowledge and passion for writing and publishing to vulnerable groups in society.

UpScribe worked with kids in care in Doncaster, looking at scripts and writing scenes for a film

Volunteering is at the core of my career, of what has driven me all these years and without it, and more importantly without the charities and projects that needed me over the years, I would not have had so many positive experiences doing amazing community work around the country and even the EU, where I volunteered in Belgium and Barcelona.

For any student wondering about the benefits of volunteering I have this to say: it will help change your life and career for the better, trust me.

Liam Rodgers

Liam is a Creative Writing student at Sheffield Hallam University and one of the finalists for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2016.

Categories: Award, Universities, What volunteering means to me