The power of voluntary work

Irfan Latif, Principal at DLD College London, shares his views on the importance of young people volunteering in the local community

There are many more benefits to come from volunteering other than bolstering a university application or building a Duke of Edinburgh Award. In fact, volunteering is an invaluable opening that can provide young people with a range of exciting prospects to prepare them for various walks of life.

Often, there is a perception when going to a school, particularly a boarding or even an independent school, that the student is in their own protected bubble whereby everything is readily there and available for them. It is important to remove this sense of entitlement, cultivating awareness in both domestic and international students that this is not the case and that they are part of a wider community – a place which they need to give something back to.   

For young people, volunteering is about being rooted and investing time in their surroundings to serve within the community, rather than being served themselves. Contributing to the environment in which they reside, not just living in it. Interacting with the neighbouring public and services, provides the capacity to enhance their personal development, leadership abilities and awareness of diversity.  

Assisting a local cause can be viewed as a crucial aspect of education in terms of the development of an individual. I believe that the practice of helping others in various aspects exposes students to many prospects to grow as a person, opportunities which they may not encounter if they were to stay shielded from the world around them. Lending themselves to offer services and help in any part of their community will provide a plethora of opportunities to build on numerous personal qualities including tolerance, curiosity, respect and kindness. In addition to helping others to progress and achieve their own goals, students are then gifted with a key set of skills which are transferable to countless life experiences, an important learning tool.

Taking the time to interact with the community allows young people to develop their leadership skills by taking ownership of their responsibilities within that space. In an affiliation with a neighbouring state primary school, Oasis Academy Johanna, our students at DLD College London are participating in paired reading activities, mentoring the younger pupils at the school. Providing young individuals with such projects permits them to give something back by taking a supporting role to guide and develop others within their local area. 

Voluntary initiatives and projects enable students to become aware of the diversity within their community, not only culturally but financially and socially. For instance, in a recent partnership a group of our students visited a charity which provides care for those with severe disabilities from impoverished backgrounds, many of whom are unable to remain in mainstream education. During the charitable endeavour, the team spent valuable time interacting with the disadvantaged children, which, through forming mutually beneficial friendships, the individuals were able to learn from each other and the experience as a whole.  

It is these experiences that the students can then take back to their own context for similar projects, whether this is in their home country, a new career, a social situation or home environment. The young individuals can further develop the skills enhanced by their learnings and deepen their understanding of their own position within a community.  

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