Sarah Goddard is a 4th year medical student and a Project Leader for UCL Marrow - a Student-Led Volunteering Project (and branch of the national charity, Anthony Nolan) that recruits people to the national stem cell donor register. Read on to find out why she loves Marrow and why leading a project is so rewarding.
A lot of people have a personal story when it comes to these sorts of things; I personally don’t. I saw Marrow on campus about four years ago - they were signing people up and educating people about stem cell transplants. I thought that it would be amazing if I could do that for someone, so I signed up immediately to the register. One of my aims in life is to help as many people as possible, and this just seemed like one way you could really make an impact and help people who needed it. I also really wanted to get involved in volunteering, but didn’t know how to get involved, until about two years later when I attended a Marrow information evening.
The volunteering schedule was simple and easy; it was flexible, which worked for me as a medical student, and all the volunteers and committee seemed nice, friendly and approachable. The first time I volunteered I was really nervous about signing someone up, but then I immediately felt this huge sense of reward by being a part of this amazing charity.
It can be quite easy for people to just put their heads down and walk past us, but a lot of people are actually really interested in what Marrow does and are willing to stop and have a chat. We don’t want to pressure people into this and we’re very friendly. We simply ask them about Anthony Nolan and the stem cell register and whether they would like to join. It can sometimes get you down when people don’t stop, but then you get one person to sign up and that’s still one more person on the register. Of course we’d love to have massive numbers all the time, but every little helps; that’s one person who wasn’t on the register before!
"Volunteering with, and leading Marrow, has definitely been one of the best things I’ve done at university."
Medicine is really intense, and I’ve been able to make some amazing friends and gain more confidence as a Project Leader. I didn’t think I’d be able to do half the things I’ve been asked to do this year, and it’s a massive life experience I wouldn’t have got if I had just done my course. I’ve gained so many skills through this, including team management, organisation and public speaking, and throughout the last three years, it’s really shaped who I am.
I’ve been able to be on campus or nearby this year, but next year, I will likely have to leave London for placement. It will be quite sad to not lead the project and be actively volunteering, but I hope I’m able to stay on the committee in a smaller role. This will be my last year of proper volunteering, but we’ve got a lot of dedicated volunteers and a great committee, and the volunteers are really passionate, so I feel comfortable leading with them.
If you want to make change in the local community, check out how to become a Project Leader like Sarah and make a tangible, positive impact.