Kathryn volunteered for the Charity in our reception area, whilst also studying at University. Kathryn said…
I decided to start volunteering at Devon Air Ambulance Trust because I had lived in Exeter for two years whilst studying at the University, and I felt it was time to give something back to the community that had become my home. Also, this was the first position that came up on the volunteering website. I am, of course, joking when I state that was the reason I applied; I have always been a supporter of the various Air Ambulance organisations that exist around the country, and the fact that I could be helping (even in a small way) a charity that has saved so many lives made my decision to become a Volunteer Receptionist at DAAT very easy. Fortunately they wanted my help as well, and it was with excitement and trepidation that I began my first shift back in January.
Although my title of Volunteer Receptionist suggests admin duties, there is a lot more involved than answering phones and emails. Each week is completely different, and involves anything from updating the Mission Map on the website (which highlights where and to what incidents the helicopters have been called), to contacting people regarding online payments (accessing the system on the website that allows people to donate whenever they choose), to becoming very proficient at cleaning the coffee machine. Additionally, I have been very fortunate to participate in job shadowing the different departments and the lovely people who work in them, finding out what their days entail and asking them lots of questions. I initially thought that this was something that had been organised especially for me, but I was made aware that every volunteer at the headquarters had the chance to experience the daily life at DAAT. The fact that those working at the charity regularly gave up portions of their day to answer my inane questions (sample dialogue: “so, what’s in those files over there?”) made me respect them even more than I already did.
Overall, my time volunteering at Devon Air Ambulance Trust has been so rewarding, and I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone in the organisations, as well as spending time force-feeding biscuits to Mel (the actual receptionist and PA to the Chief Executive at DAAT, who has dealt amazingly well with my occasional inability to remember that different people have different extension numbers). When my time at University, and Exeter, comes to an end this June I will be very sad to leave this position, and I really would urge anyone considering volunteering to give up a few hours a week to help on reception at DAAT. If you do decide to do so, there is one piece of advice I can offer you to make your time there as simple and as fun as possible, and it is this: Mel really likes ginger biscuits.