Coming to the end of my time at university, I, like a lot of students, want to pursue a career that will not only support me financially, but also‘make the world a better place’, and thus ‘make a difference’.
During my work experience at TimeBank and while accompanying my colleagues Cara-Jan, Calley and Mark on numerous Employee Volunteering days, at food banks and care homes, I have learnt that ‘making a difference’ isn’t easy. Hearing stories about veterans, nurses and homeless people attending crisis food banks so they have enough food to survive is shocking.
Nonetheless, tackling social issues and thus ‘making a difference’ doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t mean you have to solve world hunger or cure cancer. Sometimes the best thing we can do is go to a care home and speak to a resident. That resident might suffer from numerous illnesses. As a result they might not remember you ever speaking to them. Yet, smiling and interacting with them in that moment will remind them how it feels to grin and laugh, as well as having a stranger take an interest in their life. That is ‘making a difference’… to them.
Now, what does it take to work in the charity sector? What does it mean to work for TimeBank? It’s understanding that you can’t do everything. It’s accepting the things that aren’t in your control. But most importantly, it’s facing tough problems head on, something a lot of people are simply too afraid to do. It involves organising days for volunteers to help at food banks, giving people the opportunity to learn English so they can integrate in society rather than allowing them to feel isolated or finding a mentor for a refugee to let them know that they aren’t alone. ‘Making a difference’ is doing everything you can. And that is what TimeBank does, because at the end of the day that’s all anyone can do.