John's Co:Create Volunteer Experience

My name is John and I’m a volunteer with SYHA. Most of my time here has been spent working with Co:Create and I recently represented them as a co-provider on the E21 project. E21 is a collaborative research programme based at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (HUAS) in the Netherlands, which gives students at HUAS the opportunity to conduct research on behalf of organisations and stakeholders from across Europe. We wanted them to identify innovative examples of collaboration in health and social care which Co:Create could use to improve their service.  

This turned out to be one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been involved with but also one of the most challenging. As someone who’s spent four of the last five years at university, I’m much more used to being on the student side of the dynamic. For E21 I had to step way out of my comfort zone and take on the role of a project lead who could provide guidance, respond effectively to queries and most terrifyingly of all give the impression that I knew what I was talking about. Initially, this was a pretty intimidating prospect but with the fantastic support of my SYHA co-lead (big ups Chris), I managed to get through the whole thing without making a fool of myself and completed the project feeling much more confident in my ability to hold positions of responsibility.

It was amazing to see the students develop their understanding of a topic they had no prior knowledge of and produce some absolutely brilliant research for Co:Create. It was particularly gratifying to see one of our groups receive nearly full marks for their work and win the prize for the best report across the entire E21 project. The highlight of the whole experience was travelling to The Hague for the final presentations and meeting all of the students, staff and providers involved.

The fact that I was able to participate in something as prestigious as E21 as a volunteer is indicative of SYHA’s unique approach to volunteering. From my first contact with the organisation people have gone out of their way to help me gain experience that matches my interests and ambitions. This has directly contributed to me to getting a job in the sector I want to work in, as well as making me a much more confident person. I would strongly recommend volunteering with SYHA to anyone who wants to develop their experience and work with a lovely bunch of people.

Emma Ward