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Khushboo Khatri is a fourth-year Medicine student, and the chairperson for Spectrum UCL. Spectrum co-ordinate trips for children with physical or mental disabilities, offering a vital support system for Camden children and their families. The UCL Spectrum team are the 2017 winners and current holders of our Volunteering Organisation of the Year Award, presented at our Annual Award Ceremony in May.

Khushboo spoke to Nick Batley and Jenny Murphy from the Volunteering Service about her experiences as the chairperson for the project.

What do you do with Spectrum?  How long you have been doing it for, and how often you do it?

So I started volunteering with Spectrum in my first year.  I’ve been with Spectrum for four years now! During my first year, I was linked to a child, and I did the fortnightly visits, and then from second year onwards I joined the committee and progressed up. This year I’m the chairperson.

How do you did you feel when you first started volunteering with spectrum?

I was quite excited as I’d already done lots of volunteering before university with children, so I was just happy to keep giving back. Also, I really like what spectrum stands for, and the service that we provide, not only are we taking children out to give them many new experiences and befriending them, we also give the parents a fair amount of time off. I especially realised this when we took the children on a residential weekend. You realize that when you’re with the child for two or three days, and you’re responsible for them, they can be on occasion challenging, and you’re allowing the family to benefit from time off.

What was the kind of volunteering you did before you joined UCL?

I used to volunteer at a Sunday School. During this, I was responsible for organising activities for children aged 5 to 14, and that was every week for nearly 4 years.

How did you organise the residential weekends - did you have to do a lot of planning in advance?

The residential trip details are actually the same every year, so luckily, a lot of the planning details were similar; contacting the venue and activities centre, booking a coach, getting forms back from parents, organising time schedules for the weekends, room allocations, and other little things like that. I think there were lots of small details that before I had to organise it, I didn’t think were involved!

Khushboo collecting Spectrum's award for UCL Organisation of the Year at last year's Volunteering Service Awards
Khushboo collecting Spectrum’s award for UCL Organisation of the Year at last year’s Volunteering Service Awards

What sort of personal feelings do you get from volunteering? Does it make you feel like you have a drive?

I don’t know how to describe it – it’s just nice to feel that I’m spending some time doing something useful without having to do it for an exam, or for any other gain, and also to know that I’m helping, even if it’s just one person, it’s just a very nice feeling when you reflect on what you’re doing.

What challenges have you faced in your volunteering role?

Being the chairperson has been quite a challenge, just having to take an overall responsibility for the entire charity has been quite challenging. It’s not only making sure that the children are being seen by their volunteers, but making sure the whole committee is fulfilling their roles, and delegating things to do, which can be challenging; I can be a perfectionist and just like to take things on myself, because I know I’ll get them done. It’s just been a matter of staying on top of everything and always being a few steps ahead, thinking about what’s happening in the months ahead.

With the volunteering that you’ve done, do you feel that you have an idea of what career path you’d like to do?

I have always loved working with children; when I was younger I wanted to be a teacher. When I decided to go into medicine, I had a keen interest in paediatrics, so working with Spectrum has definitely been something that keeps me interested in working with children. It has given me information about safeguarding, and given me experiences that I wouldn’t be able to experience elsewhere so it’s definitely made me think about a career with children.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Spectrum, please visit their website. We also have plenty of other volunteering opportunities available on our Volunteering Directory.