Elaine Annable, Volunteer

“There’s a huge sense of satisfaction when young people truly engage with you and learn from you plus it takes you outside your comfort zone in unexpected ways. Learning from the experience is just as valuable.”

  • Name: Elaine Annable
  • Job title: Area Contract Manager
  • Organisation: Legal Aid Agency (Ministry of Justice)

When did you sign up as a volunteer, and why did you decide to start volunteering?

I signed up in 2016 for both Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire as I live on the border. The Ministry of Justice champions social mobility and supports staff who wish to volunteer. I remember being given very little support at school to consider career options  (admittedly this was a long time ago and things are different now) but I felt if I could help or inspire just one young person with the benefit of my experience, it was time well spent.

What career-related learning activities have you participated in so far in primary schools and what has been your experience?

I have given talks to a couple of primary school classes about my job and one of these sessions was one of the toughest Q&A sessions I have ever had in my career! I work mainly in the criminal justice system and the children asked every moral argument imaginable about crime and punishment.  It was clear their perceptions of the criminal justice system were based on American TV, Judge Rinder or family experiences. This was in complete contrast to another class in the same school who listened politely and had prepared easy questions for me. I quickly learned not to assume children would not ask real thought provoking questions and how much television influenced their opinions from a very young age.

How do you feel you have benefitted from your volunteering experience so far?

From a personal perspective, it tests your perceptions of young people and their views and your communication skills. There’s a huge sense of satisfaction when young people truly engage with you and learn from you plus it takes you outside your comfort zone in unexpected ways. Learning from the experience is just as valuable.

What kind of impact do you think you have had on the children you have met in Derby?

I hope I have given some children increased confidence in their ability to conduct an interview and taken away some of their fears about interviews and interviewers! Similarly, that my encouragement has given them a little more self-belief that they can take forward into real life scenarios.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering through our programmes?

The communication from the staff in advance of events and on the day is excellent and they support their volunteers wholeheartedly.

What would you say to those thinking of joining our volunteer community? Do you have any tips / advice?

Even if you can’t spare much time, some time is better than none. It’s incredibly rewarding and much appreciated by the children and schools alike. You really can make a difference to some children.

My advice would be to go volunteering with an open mind, be prepared to flex your own skills and enjoy the engagement with a diverse range of children and schools. Be in the moment, put your work or life pressures to one side and focus on the children in front of you, it will bring you surprises and delight in equal measure.

 

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