With my initial interest in primary education, I began my volunteering journey in my first year with DSU volunteering, where I was part of the ‘Right to read’ programme at Imperial Avenue School writes Square Mile paired reading volunteer, Janvi Pala. I read with pupils in foundation stage two using the statutory method of phonics. It was then, that I started realising my passion for literacy and developing reading skills of pupils.Then, it all changed. One half-term I was reading my sisters school newsletter and saw an advert calling out for paired reading mentors; this was at secondary school, New College Leicester (where I previously attended).
As I progressed into my second year of university I thought I’d give it a go. I started off with the mindset of volunteering temporarily, just to gain some additional experience of the secondary sector.
I then met the very enthusiastic and welcoming De Montfort University Square Mile team. They provided me with a lot of the support and encouragement that made my volunteering journey the greatest experience I had ever had. I received an ‘Inspirational student award’ for paired reading, in 2014 from the Square Mile.
Volunteering has been extremely rewarding, especially reflecting on the students’ progress each academic year. I have been able to recognise my interest in enhancing the literacy skills of students; something I have chosen to explore as part of my MA dissertation project this year.
Three years have passed and I am still a paired reader at New College Leicester. I was also a part of the academic mentoring programme there. Throughout my volunteering journey, I have been able to gain invaluable employability skills that have developed me as a person. My confidence has increased massively, alongside my communication and mentoring skills; skills that I will need in my progressing career life.