How I Got Here – My Volunteering Journey

Annie Bocock is the Head of Marketing and Content Creation (RMHub) for Role Models Yorkshire and she also is the creator of this very blog series about volunteering! Here the TEDx Speaker takes you on her relationship with volunteering over the years.

A picture of Annie in her Give It a Go hoodie

How it started

The first time I remember properly volunteering, aside from the occasional open evening at school, was with the National Citizens Service (NCS). The younger of you may remember, or indeed may be going on, your NCS programme – a four week excursion where you go outdoors to do activities, head to a university to learn life skills and spend two weeks volunteering. It seems to be a quintessential experience now when you’re 16, and it certainly made a big difference to me and my journey. 

So after my time on NCS I arrived in Year 12, being very conscious that universities look for individuals who could develop their skills outside of the curriculum, I ensured that from early on I presented a “yeah, I’ll go for it” attitude to everything which landed me on the NCS Regional Youth Board for my area and a role as a Graduate Helper on the programme. Whilst I was way out of my depth: shy, passive and reluctant, it’s how I started, and I’m proud of myself for it.

Annie at a bake sale with NCS for Framework

March of the committee woman

The Sixth Form volunteering paid off, I was accepted into the University of York to study maths, but it was a struggle. No friends, no motivation, no confidence. This changed in the Spring of my first year when I became a Give It A Go Activator for the student union, essentially it was just a role which helped boost society memberships through “trial” sessions, whether it be introductory pole fitness sessions or swing dance. 

It opened the door to my confidence, which had been shut for almost a year, and I began to make friends. So I did it more, I applied and applied and by the middle of my second year I had been on seven student group committees and took part in many other projects. Whilst it was undoubtedly a lot, I developed practical skills in graphic design, fundraising, social media marketing, collaboration, safeguarding, managing budgets, event organising and the list goes on. It made my university experience.

Annie with the York Raising and Giving 2018/19 committee

Breaking into Content Writing

The university journey came to a halt at the end of my second year after failing and subsequently dropping out after appealing. Whilst it was difficult, it by far wasn’t the end to my volunteering journey. I had been, by then, writing for charity Student Minds as a Press Ambassador for several months and I even had some words featured in the Guardian and a BBC Bitesize piece. 

Carrying on the journey of exploring mental health through the university lens, I miraculously got the opportunity to speak at TEDxBrayfordPool about the topic of university mental health provisions. Whilst this was an otherworldly experience on its own, as I got to speak on a global stage about something I was ridiculously passionate about, it led onto something just as exciting: written content creation.

I started writing for TEDxBrayfordPool weekly (now slightly less due to my workload) about different speakers, politics, pop culture, inequalities and some of the most pressing global issues. I have loved every second of it, and there are so many pieces of which I’ve been so proud to write and publish for TEDxBP and other organisations. It’s so rewarding to write and research in-depth about different topics, and to reveal angles that may have not seen much coverage.

Annie on the TEDxBrayfordPool stage

Becoming a social media star

It was just the beginning of this year that I got my first voluntary social media position after university, as the Social Media Coordinator for Role Models Yorkshire. It was an awesome challenge to design and schedule a lot of awesome content for their COVID-19 response: Togetherness.

This built on some awesome experiences I had of managing social media accounts at university for different groups and over the past few years I’ve become very acquainted with design and scheduling programmes such as Canva, Adobe Spark Post, ShotCut, InShot, Trello, Hootsuite and Slack. I’d really recommend social media volunteering roles as an easy way to boost skills and get started with volunteering.

A graphic Annie made for Togetherness

Political activism and making waves

Nowadays, I’ve been doing a mixture of a lot of things, including helping to design this site! One area in particular that I’ve begun to break into is political activism and volunteering. I’ve very recently become involved with Make Votes Matter, a grassroots organisation in the UK aiming to secure Proportional Representation. I’ve also been taking steps to send more letters to my MP and other people of influence. 

My time on this year’s Samsung Not A School “Turn Climate Anxiety into Positive Action” programme actually influenced me to try and make change through the politicians who represent us.

Annie on Samsung Not a School

Where do I want to go

Over the next year as I prepare to re-enter education, I hope to try out even more things to make change. If I were to set one goal it would be to sit on an advisory board or act as a trustee for a non-profit.

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