Volunteers' Week 2015
Every year charities across the country celebrate the work of their volunteers. Fundraising Officer Jake Laws reflects on his experiences of volunteering with Link.
September 2015 marks four years of involvement with Link Community Development for me. Back in 2011, when I had just started University, my friend and I decided to sign up for Link’s signature fundraising event, Hitch. I can safely say that I did not know that the decision we made on the second week of term in 2011 would make the impact on my life that it has!
Signing up for Hitch was the first fundraising event I had ever agreed to take part in. I was nervous, apprehensive, and to be honest, a little confused as to why I made such a decision so spontaneously. Looking back, I do not regret it one ounce. It marked the start of my progression from Hitcher, to Hitch Rep, to intern and to now being Link’s Fundraising Officer. Ever since I signed up to Hitch all those years ago I have felt like a valued member of the Link family – the fundraising team within the organisation have always been so supportive and helped me every step of the way through my adventure.
From a personal point of view, volunteering has opened lots of doors; it has enabled me to meet lots of really great people that I am pleased to be able to call friends; it has allowed me to progress in a career in the third sector; and it has also left me feeling great knowing that the time I have taken out has really benefitted those in sub-Saharan Africa who desperately want to learn; something that is taken for granted in the UK.
Link has, over the years, completed lots of wonderful work to improve the quality of and the access to education in sub-Saharan Africa. We have worked in over 3,000 schools impacting on the learning outcomes of 1.7 million learners. All of this has, of course, been helped by the support of those who believe in what we are trying to do. Having a group of dedicated volunteers for our organisation is so valuable to raising money for our cause and spreading the word of what our organisation is trying to achieve. For me volunteering week is a chance to thank all of those who have helped Link over the years.
My first responsibility when I joined the fundraising team at Link was to help recruit our Hitch Reps across the country to spread the word of what I believe to be the best fundraising event out there. Hitch Reps take time out of their studies to fundraise, spread the word about Hitch and think of innovative ways to get students engaged with what Link does! To put it simply, without our Hitch Reps, there is no Hitch – and Link would not have been able to achieve as much as it has over the years. Our Hitch Reps dedication to the cause is second to none. Since 1992, Hitch has raised an absolutely mind-blowing £4.5 million for Link, and without the commitment of our student volunteers, this simply would not have been possible. Now that it is coming to the end of the Hitch year and our wonderful Reps depart for adventures new, I would just like to thank them for their amazing work this year. You have been my first bunch of Reps, and you will always be close to my heart.
To everybody who has ever taken time out of their lives to help Link by hosting an event, hitching to Morocco, cycling through Malawi or shaken a bucket in a street, thank you. Without you we would not be able to positively impact the lives of communities in the rural areas of Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. Enjoy volunteers’ week, and feel proud of the volunteering you have completed for us, no matter how big or small. Link would not exist without you!