Femke Bekker, is studying for a degree in Events and Festival Management at Bucks New University. Here she talks about her experience of volunteering for Child Bereavement UK, as part of a six-month internship in the fundraising team:
“I found out about the internship at Child Bereavement UK from my lecturer. He said it might be a good opportunity to gain some external experience of festival management. I had a look at Child Bereavement UK’s opportunities and decided to apply for the Community Events internship.
“Prior to this internship I had never volunteered for anything to do with charities in my life. I have always been the kind of person, though, that will volunteer or help someone if I have time. However, it had always been for things to do with the music industry or helping my violin teacher with children’s concerts.
“When I started working for Child Bereavement UK, I was given a target to recruit a minimum of fifty volunteers over the next six months for the series of Let’s Rock music festivals, run by UK Live, that raise funds for the charity. Child Bereavement UK recruits volunteers to help with scanning entry tickets and selling wristbands and raffle tickets at the festivals, which are held in various locations across the UK.
“I wasn’t sure where to start at first, but everyone in the office was really helpful. I worked together with the Digital Marketing Executive to promote the opportunity on social media. As Child Bereavement UK deals with a sensitive subject, I was given advice on how to talk to people who have been bereaved of a parent or child. I found this an incredibly useful skill not only in my role at Child Bereavement UK but in my personal life and at university, where I am a senior resident at my halls of residence.
“As part of my role I had to call local businesses asking them to promote the opportunity to their employees and community. When I started at the charity I was incredibly nervous before making a phone call, especially when it was cold-calling a business. By the time I left, I would rather call someone than email them as it’s much faster. Now I barely even prepare conversations in my head before a phone call. I am so glad my manager pushed me out of my comfort zone as this is an incredibly useful skill.
“Part of my role was looking after each volunteer, from dealing with expressions of interest in volunteering to sending out an email telling them how much the event they attended had raised. When the festivals started in May, I had to coordinate nearly 800 volunteers (with help from my manager and some colleagues) which was very challenging, especially as I was only in the office two days a week. This has taught me how incredibly important it is to organise your email and keep track of everything that is going on. I used to be a person that would make a note on my to-do list to do something later. With the number of volunteers and all the things you need to do, it’s easy to forget something, so I’ve learned to do things straight away. Turns out this is also beneficial in your personal life.
“I attended four of the festivals where I worked with different colleagues each time. It’s really useful to learn how to work with different people, you see how everyone works differently and you learn to adapt. Eventually I started running the briefings at the festivals and coordinated the volunteers on the actual festival day. Coordinating eighty volunteers in thirteen hours, on five different shifts, is very demanding.
“Working as an intern at Child Bereavement UK was incredibly useful. You gain so many valuable office skills, such as email etiquette, representing the charity on the phone, understanding data protection rules, how to use Excel (which is super useful) and generally, how to work in an office. These are skills that you wouldn’t necessarily get on a festival site or at a music venue but are things that will continue to be useful in your professional career. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good you are at organising a festival, if you can’t make a phone call or write an appropriate email, you will struggle with a lot of aspects of your future job. The internship was a great way to gain these skills in a safe environment.
“On top of that, I got cake on my last day and loads of glitter on my desk! And then I spent the rest of the day counting the number of wristbands we had left..!”
Interested in doing an internship with Child Bereavement UK? We have many different opportunities available, contact firstname.lastname@example.org