A Goldsmiths student: Why I volunteer while I study

David Cheng volunteers for the British Red Cross alongside his studies.

David Cheng volunteers for the British Red Cross alongside his studies.

It is volunteer week and David Cheng, 26, from Hong Kong, a postgraduate media student at Goldsmiths explains why he is volunteering for the British Red Cross here in the UK alongside his studies.

I love the simple fact that people are working towards more or less the same goal in charity organisations. In my case, we are all there to help people in crisis. This is especially true when we were helping during the Nepal Quake fundraising appeal. There is simply nothing more fulfilling than knowing you are actually making a real difference in the world.

I provide digital support to the Red Cross community fundraising team. I was very luckily given the chance to manage the social media promotion for their largest annual fundraising event Red Cross Week. During the week, fundraisers across the country are doing whatever they can to raise money to support the charity’s life-saving work. Some are doing bake sale, some cycling across countries, some putting on their own garden events – you name it.

A very large part of my job is to liaise with these community fundraisers to understand their activities and promote their brilliant efforts to the wider public. Also I was trying to build up an engaging online community by cheering the fundraisers up along the way.

Another thing I like about volunteering is that people are friendly and open-minded. The British Red Cross has given me so much freedom and respect in terms of my style of working. While I am just a volunteer, I was encouraged to put forward my ideas and many of them were taken

Apart from the job, they also give you opportunity to develop your potential by encouraging you to participate in various events and workshop on first aid, international humanitarian laws and emergency response. I could attend a series of their events, including the annual British Red Cross National Assembly, London Marathon and even abseiling at Arcelor Mittal Orbit, which were all truly eye-opening. I have to say I learnt a lot from these.

Before I moved to the UK, I was leading a lucrative yet very stressful career in public relations working for high-profile companies like Microsoft, Alibaba and American Express. But it has come to a point I found little satisfaction in my job and I believed it was time for a change in life.

With a bachelor degree in Politics, I had finally decided to take on a Masters’ degree in Global Media & Transnational Communications in London, with a concentration on advocacy and campaigning. I was hoping I could do something meaningful by transferring my skills and knowledge in PR to the third sector to actually help people and make a difference. To me, there is nothing more satisfying in the world than giving a hand to people and seeing their smiles.

Driven by this urge, I started to look for volunteer opportunity alongside studies to have a taste of the actual working environment in a charity, which turned out to be fantastic.

Volunteering itself is a give-take relationship. Not only are we giving our time to help people, but in turn it gives you a lot of valuable exposure that one cannot easily gain from other jobs. Above all, there are people out there waiting for our help. I would recommend other people who have spare time to volunteer.

David Cheng is also a journalist for the Eastlondonlines.

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