Katie San is a fourth year MPharm student. She shares her experience volunteering as a student mentor with Solidarity Sports, an organisation that harnesses the transformative power of play to nurture and support disadvantaged children recovering from complex trauma.
Tell us a little about your volunteering.
I volunteer for a charity called Solidarity Sports. It is based in West London and provides support, trips and all round love for disadvantaged and vulnerable children with heavy emphasis on leading a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Solidarity run their main projects throughout each school holiday i.e., half terms, Easter, summer and Christmas. Prior to COVID-19, trips were also arranged every Saturday. Since discovering this charity in July 2019, I have committed to attending as many projects and days as possible.
During these trips, volunteers and staff engage with and encourage the children to be creative, active and most importantly, to form long-lasting positive memories and friendships.
How did you find out about the role?
I found out about Solidarity Sports through the UCL Student Union Volunteering Society page.
What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?
After being a volunteer for Solidarity Sports for 2 years, I have been fortunate enough to witness the impact that the charity has first-hand - seeing the children smile and grow into the most amazing people.
Why did you want to become a volunteer?
Prior to starting university, I had volunteered for a few charities as a young teenager. The intrinsic satisfaction gained from helping the community is an indescribable feeling that I personally do not believe can be found elsewhere. During my year 2 summer, I decided that I wanted to begin volunteering again as it was something I deeply missed.
What impact has volunteering had on you?
Discovering Solidarity Sports has most definitely my greatest takeaway during my four years at university. Being a part of this community and family at the charity is something I am infinitely proud and grateful for. Every time I volunteer and speak to each child, volunteer or staff, it provides me with a new insight. I feel that it has taught me so much and allowed for me to develop skills and mindsets that I would not have been able to acquire elsewhere. A major one being that:
“if you want to seek change then you must first be the change and make a difference”.
Volunteering has also allowed me to find something that I am truly passionate about which is something I was struggling with at the start of university.
What’s the best thing about volunteering?
The best thing about volunteering at Solidarity Sports is being able to see the mutual trust and love between the children, staff and volunteers. I am honoured to even play the smallest role in
providing the children with new experiences and memories.
And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?
As I can be an introverted character, I was initially a little nervous about meeting new people. However, aforementioned, Solidarity Sports is a charity that promotes inclusivity and is one of the most welcoming environments.
Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering.
As cliché as it may sound, every experience has been a memorable one for me at Solidarity Sports. From taking the kids ice skating in the winter to picnics in the park in the summer, each trip has provided endless happy moments and memories.
Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?
I could not recommend volunteering enough. It provides a unique opportunity to give back to the community whilst also developing skills, friendships and experiences that will last a lifetime.
Further information about Solidarity Sports can be found here.
I would also recommend becoming a Memory Maker for the charity. More recently, the pandemic has prompted the launch of our campaign called “Memory Makers” which I am a proud champion of. Memory makers allows monthly donations of as little as £3. £3 per month to many of us might just be one less cup of coffee but I have seen first-hand that for these kids, it could be life-changing - providing a memory that could last a lifetime.
If you are interested in becoming a Memory Maker, visit Solidarity Sports and sign up here.