Working with People (without animals?!)
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a huge number of talented animal keepers, farmers, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and a whole host of other professionals and clients whilst completing my experience with animals, but I have also enjoyed working within various teams during other, less directly animal-based, work.
Back in October 2009 I began volunteering online for a small animal rescue based in South Wales (over 250 miles away from my own home!) after having discovered them whilst looking into adopting my own dog. Although it’s now years later and we are still yet to meet in person, the Friends of the Animals RCT team were all incredibly welcoming and friendly through electronic means, and I thoroughly enjoyed contributing to the group’s efforts and regularly collaborating with other volunteers.
I started my work at the rescue by becoming the Cross-Posting Administrator; effectively meaning I would share (or “cross-post”) information about animals needing homes across various animal-related online forums and websites, then answer any questions from the public and provide regular updates on how the animals were getting on in their foster homes or kennels. The aim of this was to help each of the animals find their, somewhat affectionately named, “forever homes”. It gives me great pride to say that this work was not in vain and it additionally proved beneficial in raising the rescue’s online presence.
To be able to effectively and efficiently provide this service for all the animals needing homes at the rescue at any one time, and to enable frequent updates and rapid replies to questions, I felt this necessitated the creation and maintenance of an online database. As well as putting this into place, my role rapidly spread to also cross-posting fundraising events, managing and promoting the social media accounts for the rescue and editing the rescue’s monthly newsletter.
Alongside the technical skills across various online platforms and offline Microsoft Office programs, my time at Friends of the Animals RCT provided me with fantastic experience in providing customer service, and it was wonderful to be entrusted with the responsibility of representing the rescue publicly (albeit electronically!). I volunteered for the rescue until September 2012 when, as I was due to commence studies for my Veterinary Medicine degree, I felt that I would no longer be able to provide as much time as the roles had grown to require and really deserved. However, Friends of the Animals RCT is still in operation and you can find out further information about them and their animals looking for homes via their online forum here.
I am relatively sure by this point you’ll have noticed that I very much love animals, and that I spend a rather large proportion of my life working with them; but, surprisingly enough, I do also enjoy some voluntary and paid work that doesn’t involve them at all!
I started volunteering for the C4WS Homeless Project winter night shelter in January 2014 as a Shelter Assistant, as required, during their working season from November to March for three years. C4WS are a charity helping those who find themselves homeless, and they achieve this by a number of means, including: their night shelters, a soup kitchen (known as Friday lunch club), a jobs club and a befriending scheme, all with the focus of helping people out of the difficult situations they have unfortunately found themselves in.
My voluntary role involved assisting in the evening and overnight running of the night shelter by preparing the beds and the canteen, spending time talking to guests, serving and cleaning up after meals and offering a port of call for any female guests’ worries overnight. I found my work for C4WS to be really eye opening in respect of the range of people that find themselves homeless and the range of reasons that force them into the inconceivably scary situation; but more than anything else, I found the night shelter to be unbelievably rewarding work. The best example of this is that every season I volunteered, I was volunteering alongside at least one person that was a guest at the shelter the previous season. I’m afraid I can’t find any words to explain quite how astounding I still find that, nor for quite how delighted it makes me. For more information about C4WS, please visit their website here – more volunteers are always welcome!
I really am passionate about getting involved in voluntary projects, but it’s no secret that being a student is rather pricey these days, so, alongside my voluntary work and veterinary studies, I got an ad hoc job at The Royal Veterinary College as an Events Assistant. By providing exceptional customer service to a vast array of different attendees, and tending to their specific requirements, whilst providing a positive, proactive attitude to a variety of different tasks; my job enabled the smooth-running of a variety of university events, as well as the upkeep and development of the high standards they deserved. The remit of events I worked spanned a huge range: from symposiums by the world experts on chicken health, to the winter knees-up at the staff Christmas party, to the exceptionally grand annual graduation at Westminster Central Hall. I was in this role for three years and it was fascinatingly interesting and amazingly good fun.