My Time at Leeds Mencap- Mason
I applied to volunteer at Leeds Mencap because it is a great charity doing valuable work within the community, the cause is something that is close to me as I have spent a lot of time around children with learning disabilities through having special educational needs myself. This meant that I sat my exams throughout primary school, secondary school and college with children like myself and with more severe learning difficulties. In addition, I wanted to develop my marketing skills, to add to my experience, learn new skills and to strengthen my applications when searching for graduate jobs.
At an undergraduate level I studied Human Geography and in September 2021 I started a postgraduate in Consumer Analytics and Marketing Strategy which provided a blend between both Geography and Marketing, I had experience of running social media accounts for a business, but the only problem was that I had never studied marketing before. The opportunity that Leeds Mencap offered as Marketing and Communication volunteer for their fundraising department, gave me the opportunity to use the theory I was learning about every week at university in a practical sense and proved to be very beneficial to my studies. One of the modules I studied was called ‘digital and interactive marketing’ where we ran a simulation of an integrated online marketing campaign, the projects and tasks that I worked on whilst at Leeds Mencap was practically a real-world application of this module and throughout the course of the module, I found my work at Leeds Mencap becoming better and better.
My role as Marketing and Communications volunteer gave me a lot of responsibility to work on important project with a huge degree of freedom despite only volunteering once a week. My main responsibilities whilst in the role were to create social media posts as part of an integrated online marketing campaign, create graphics on Canva to be used as social media posts, physical posters and flyers, and to create and organise fundraising events as well as help to sell tickets for them. Together with Ellis, who also studies the same postgraduate course as me, we were given responsibility to run the annual ‘Imagine If’ campaign that ran throughout the month of March.
The ‘Imagine If’ campaign aims to give people more perspective of what it is like to grow up with leaning disabilities and make people aware of the day-to-day activities that can be so hard for people with learning disabilities. We decided to adapt the messaging of the campaign from the year before and make it a more positive campaign, focusing on how people can support children with learning disabilities. This displayed the freedom that Ellis and I had in running the campaign for 2022, despite only being volunteers.
Another project that we helped to organise was the Christmas quiz which took place at Headrow House, our role in this was to create the social media posts and help to sell the tickets for the event which resulted in a sell out and a great night. I attended the event with around 10 of my friends and not only was it a fun experience but it made me feel proud that I had helped to organise and raise a considerable amount of money for the charity. Additionally, seeing everyone who had donated attending the event put into perspective how important Leeds Mencap is to the community and the scale of support it receives.
My favourite thing about volunteering was coming into the office every Friday and working with the team in the office. The work that I did at Leeds Mencap provided a relaxing escape from the workload and pressures of my postgraduate studies. I loved the calmness of the office and everyone who I encountered on the Friday Mornings was nice and welcoming. Cath the CEO always offered me a ‘posh coffee’ which was always a great cup of coffee and made me feel like a regular part of the team. There was a specific occasion when I received a job interview phone call from a graduate scheme that I was applying for, whilst I was in the office and Cath let me use one of the meeting rooms to take the call, fortunately a few weeks later I found out that my offer was successful and when I came back to the office there was a congratulations card from Abi and Charlotte on my desk. Small things like this made my time volunteering at Leeds Mencap a pleasure and made me feel like part of the team.