Why I Volunteer (Guest Blog by Melissa Middleton)
Melissa Middleton is currently studying the CMI Level 5 Diploma in Management with PNE Development and is the Manager of PNE Enterprise, a business support organisation based in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. In this blog post, she shares her experience as a volunteer for Newcastle City Learning.
Since August 2014, I have regularly volunteered my time as a Board member for Newcastle City Learning, as well as a Vice Chair of its Finance Committee. Newcastle City Learning is a part of Newcastle City Council and supports the apprenticeships, adult learning courses and qualifications available throughout the city through dedicated learning centres.
I was appointed through recommendation as they felt they needed an individual on the Board who was based in the city and had contacts within the business community, and who had a background in education. As soon as I was asked I submitted a personal profile, was interviewed and was officially accepted by the other individuals of the Board.
I wanted to volunteer for this service as I have a passion for good quality adult education and also for getting businesses and the educational community to work together ensuring learners have a better chance of employment when they finish their studies.
I really enjoy meeting and hearing about the journeys of the learners, not just about the courses they study but also the reasons for it. One group, that uses English as a second and even third language who initially came to study ESOL, enjoyed studying so much they continued onto other courses, which helped them into employment or self-employment.
It is great to keep up-to-date with what is available countrywide too, on what opportunities are around, apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy, self-employment support and new courses in digital. It is also interesting to know the challenges that the learners and education establishments are facing and coming up with ways to tackle these obstacles.
We meet as Board members once a quarter, covering the service itself, health and safety, training updates, any issues with the service or changes coming about, changes to the Board and an overview of the finance of the business.
I am Vice Chair of the Financial Committee, held each quarter, which specifically focuses on the financial aspects, ensuring it remains value for money and is not missing out on any opportunities.
In between meetings I visit the premises and the learners when I can, as well as attending award ceremonies for the learners and teachers (usually once a year), and attend events set-up by learners to showcase their work. I am also there to support the teachers if they need a Board member to discuss matters privately with.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience, I’d recommend volunteering to anyone with a passion for adding value to the communities they live in.