Skip to main content
VSU's picture

Yoko Lohrer studied Msc Security Studies at UCL and completed her degree last summer. She volunteered with Hackney Pirates, a innovate charity helping primary school pupils to develop skills and confidence with their literacy level. Now graduated, Yoko spoke to us about her time as a volunteer, and how this has influenced her career. 

Where are you currently working and/or volunteering? Please tell us a bit about what you do in these roles.

I am the new Education Team Assistant at the Hackney Pirates, an enterprising charity building the literacy, confidence and perseverance of young people aged 9-12 who are at risk of falling behind in school. My role involves supporting the Session Leaders during our after-school educational sessions by managing attendance, liaising with parents and schools, running break time and monitoring behavior, and conducting post-session debrief with volunteers.

I also currently volunteer occasionally (about one Saturday a month) at the charity Body & Soul, on their adoption support group reconnection days. This involves helping run activities, assisting in managing behavior and helping children with social interactions.

What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?

I found my way to the Hackney Pirates through the UCL volunteering service; the Hackney Pirates was one of the charities present at the volunteering fair that I attended in the Autumn of 2016. Fascinated by the creative ethos of the organization, I became a literacy support volunteer and promptly fell in everything about the charity. As a literacy support volunteer, I provided one-to-one support for young people during the sessions, working with them on reading and creative writing projects.

It was also through the UCL volunteering service that I came to apply for a three-month voluntary internship with Body & Soul, which I undertook following the completion of my master’s and prior to starting my role at the Hackney Pirates. The role was ‘Programme Management Intern – Children’s Services’, and was very valuable in developing both my management skills and my confidence and experience in working with vulnerable people and with children.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?

As a literacy support volunteer, I developed my skills in working one-to-one with many different young people, learning to adapt my style to the individual I was working with. I also got an incredible insight into the creative, alternative educational sector, and was reminded of my passion for education and working with disadvantaged young people.
How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?

Volunteering my time to work with young people, both at the Hackney Pirates and at Body & Soul, was essential in building the skills and confidence I needed to then apply for my current role and also to succeed in it.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?

Getting involved in volunteering while at university will add value to your life in more than one way. Not only will it help develop the soft and hard skills - which you might not be gaining from lectures - that employers are looking for, but you may very well make useful connections with people or even discover a passion or talent for something you hadn’t considered as a career option before.

And of course, volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community and meet interesting, like-minded people

If this blog has interested you in volunteering then visit our Volunteering Directory for more exciting volunteer projects!