» Going on a journey: from Big Hearts Volunteer to Employee

Going on a journey: from Big Hearts Volunteer to Employee

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Sarah Smillie first walked through the doors at Tynecastle Park in the summer of 2023 as a new volunteer, at Big Hearts’ School’s Out! project.

As a third-year student at university, she was eager to begin her volunteering journey when she saw a position advertised at Big Hearts, she said: “It was during the summer holidays and it sounded really interesting and like something I’d enjoy, so I applied and started volunteering!”

Keen to be involved in youth work, Sarah jumped at the chance of being involved in our charity’s School’s Out! project, a holiday club for local pupils facing social isolation. She told us what she enjoys most about being a School’s Out Volunteer: “I love getting involved in fun activities, gaining lots of skills and meeting new people. I’ve met so many people that I typically wouldn’t meet on day-to day basis.”

Earlier this year, Big Hearts announced a number of new and exciting opportunities to join our dedicated staff team. Of the roles advertised, Sarah applied and was successful for a new Group Worker position, she said: “The whole purpose of me volunteering was to use the experience I gained to help me get into a paid position, doing a similar role. When I saw the Group Worker job advertised, it was really fitting for me, and I was just about to finish my final year at uni so it was great timing too!”

Prior to volunteering with Big Hearts, Sarah had no previous experience of working with young people. By using her free time to volunteer she’s learned new skills which have helped her move in to paid employment: “Volunteering has helped me in every way! I’d never worked with young people before or been involved in running groups – like at Big Hearts. It has helped me to build confidence and I’ve also learned lots about the role along the way.”

Looking back on her journey from volunteer to staff member, Sarah reflects on the transformative experience she’s had. “Becoming a staff member at Big Hearts has been brilliant for me and shows how valuable volunteering your time can be. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the great work that Big Hearts do, and I absolutely recommend volunteering to anyone who may be thinking about it! “

Find out more about Big Hearts’ volunteering opportunities here.


– June 2024


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