I'm a Peer Education Coordinator - and a student too
Pippa tells us how she manages to study for her PhD at the same time as being a 4 (peer education) Coordinator
To any students thinking about volunteering with Girlguiding, I would say: do it! It will start conversations, build friendships, develop your skills and most of all, you'll have fun!
A couple of weeks ago, I was having a hot chocolate with a couple of friends, and one of their friends who I didn't know, in a little café in Lincoln. I was wearing a top from an international Girlguiding trip I went on as a teenager. The friend-of-the-friend spotted the logo – 'Do you do guiding too? I'm a Brownie Leader!' Getting that instant connection with people you've just met is one of the reasons I love being a volunteer alongside my studies.
How I got involved
I moved to Lincoln shortly before starting my PhD at the University of Sheffield, and volunteering with guiding seemed like a great way to get to know more people locally. I contacted the County Commissioner and we discussed what I might be able to do. Fitting in a regular weekly commitment can be a challenge as my course involves lectures, seminars and fieldwork - sometimes all over the country!
I was a Peer Educator already and the flexible nature of the peer education programme seemed like an ideal fit around my studies. Peer Educators run sessions with girls the same age or younger on the issues that are important to them. I wanted to get more involved and I've run peer education trainings in the past, so I volunteered to be the Peer Education Coordinator for the County.
Fitting volunteering in with my studies
These roles are ideal for fitting around my course. I can answer Peer Educators' questions and organise sessions by email during my commute, I try to schedule study-at-home days so that I can be there for a peer education session with a unit, and once or twice a year I run training on a weekend.
My volunteer roles help me to develop skills and reflect on the work I am doing at university. A lot of what I have learned as a Peer Educator has come in useful in facilitating seminars for other students.
Transport can be a big problem for students but my advice would be to ask for help. Before I learned to drive, lots of other volunteers going to the same events offered me lifts if they lived near me or could pick me up from as far as public transport would get me! Now I'm happy to repay the favour and help the Peer Educators in Lincolnshire to get to their sessions.
To any students thinking about volunteering with Girlguiding, I would say: do it! It doesn’t need to be a weekly commitment; talk to somebody locally and see how your skills and time could fit with what they need. It will start conversations, help you make connections, build friendships, develop your skills and most of all – you'll have fun!
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