Volunteers Week 2023

Did you know today (June 1st) kicks off Volunteers' Week, an annual celebration of the contributions of millions of people across the UK through volunteering in their communities? Each day throughout the week we will spotlight a different area of our Community Outreach programme to showcase just some of the volunteering that goes on at the High School of Dundee.

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Today we asked F5 pupil, Maya McColgan, to tell us a bit about her volunteering. She said: "Since September 2022, I have been a volunteer at the “Dundee Disabled Children’s Association (DDCA). I go along on a Thursday evening and occasionally attend training sessions. I recently attended a Makaton training evening. This has helped me to communicate more effectively with some of the children and young adults whom I work with at the centre who have a variety of learning and physical disabilities.

"Whether it be playing games, art work, chatting about “Strictly,” baking, or just sitting down and listening, this volunteer-young person interaction helps to break up their busy week and gives them a precious 1hr and 40 minutes of care-free fun. It also offers a small chunk of valuable respite time for their families.

"I really enjoy my volunteering at the centre. Not not only have I got to know the young people whom I help, but I have made friendships with the other volunteers.

"Volunteering has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was nervous to start but it has been such a rewarding experience. It gives a great sense of achievement to know that you are making a positive difference to someone’s life. Furthermore, my volunteering has greatly developed my communication skills, my self confidence, my ability to converse with adults and my peers and my team working skills. It has been so fulfilling and I highly recommend it."

Well done Maya!

Today we hear from F5 pupil Anthony Adegbesan about his work volunteering at the Hilltown Community Centre as a Youth Club Assistant:

"I volunteer at the Hilltown community centre working with a youth drop-in group every week. My main job there is to make sure things run smoothly, help out with errands and run activities such as football and pool, FIFA or table tennis tournaments: just provide support basically.

"I have been doing this for a year and a couple of months now and have benefited the youth as I am told I am a positive role model to the people that attend the drop-ins and I am much closer in age to them than the workers there, so I am easier to relate to and get advice from. I have also benefited as my experience working there has built my confidence and my leadership and organisational skills."

We also talked to Lyndsey McDowall about her voluntary work with Oxfam:

"I started volunteering at Oxfam, St Andrews in December 2022. Since then, I have worked every Sunday for an hour. During this time, I have learnt how to ring purchases up on a till, sorted hundreds of books and vinyl records, priced very strange CDs, counted many bottles of shampoo for stock check and replenished the stock of Wilbur Smith and Curious Incident copies on our shelves.

"I chose to volunteer with Oxfam because I believe in their mission to abolish poverty. The donations that we receive and the proceeds from what we sell go towards many different campaigns such as providing water and fighting for women’s rights in undeveloped countries. As an Oxfam volunteer, I’ve gained people skills and made many new friends. I am looking forward to continuing my volunteering journey, improving my skills and seeing where it takes me!"

Well done Anthony and Lyndsey! 

Did you know we have a designated Charities and Community Outreach Coordinator at the High School of Dundee? Karlene Douglas supports pupils across the school to set up Volunteering opportunities in the community. Pupils can also access the Volunteering Booklet - a Pupil Guide where they can learn about what to consider before choosing a volunteering opportunity, some skills they can gain from different roles, how to arrange a placement and a directory of current volunteering opportunities. All our pupils are enrolled on the Saltire Awards which is an award scheme that recognises the commitment, contribution and achievements of young volunteers across Scotland.

Karlene says: "Here at the High School of Dundee we are passionate about giving back to the community and helping others. Kindness is one of our Core Values and volunteering is one way our pupils can develop this attribute. Volunteering helps our pupils gain valuable experience in their desired field and improves their education and work prospects. Volunteering is also an opportunity for our pupils to see the impact giving their time has on people and communities. It enables them to share their skills and experiences as well as learn new ones. Doing good for others can improves pupils' mental health, self-confidence, and sense of accomplishment. A large number of our pupils volunteer on a weekly basis at a wide range of places in the local community."

Today we also asked Charlotte Dorman in Form 5 to tell us about her voluntary work as a referee and coach for Monifieth Athletic Football Club:

"I started volunteering for my bronze DofE around 2 years ago and partake in it for the most part once or twice a week, but since then, my voluntary work has become so much more than just a school obligation. For the past few years, I’ve been volunteering at Monifieth Athletic Football Club, where at first my role in helping was limited—doing tea and coffee runs, for the most part. But as my experience grew, I found that my confidence grew simultaneously, and I began putting myself forward for more coaching and refereeing positions, taking myself just outside of my comfort zone each time. 

"Volunteering has helped me greatly, not only in confidence and self-assurance but also in the way I interact with others and in conflict resolution. I have assumed a new outlook on life, for the most part thanks to my volunteering, which has taught me to understand and investigate situations prior to making snap judgements, and for that I am most grateful. The voluntary work I do, in my mind, helps take a lot of stress off of the coaches and helps football training for these boys run more frequently than it would otherwise due to coach shortages. 

"I thoroughly enjoy my volunteering, and I’d strongly urge anyone thinking of getting involved in voluntary work to get stuck in. There are plenty of opportunities to help out in your area in one way or another; get involved!"

Great work, Charlotte

Today we asked one of our younger volunteers to speak about their involvement in two different projects. Ayanah Adam in Form 2 works as a Teaching Assistant at her local Islamic school and last October she also visited refugee camps, shelters and orphanages in Lebanon supporting refugees fleeing the Syrian War... 

"I volunteer as a teacher/ teacher’s assistant in my local Islamic school. I usually help out on a Friday after school and I have been doing this for over a year. I help out with a class called ‘life skills’ which teaches kids things such as charity, cooking and cycling. I think it benefits them as these skills will stick with them for life and help them in their future. In terms of the benefits I have, I really love working with/helping younger children and I think it develops resilience. 

"Last October I visited Lebanon with my family to help the refugees who fled from the Syrian war with a charity called World Care Foundation. We visited refugee camps, shelters, and orphanages, and handed out food, warm clothes, and sanitary products. It was a really eye opening experience which will stick with me for life. It’s hard to truly explain the conditions these innocent people lived in and how I felt. However, it showed me what luxury I live in and how I should never take anything for granted. Seeing the faces of the people really showed how happy they were that someone recognised what they were going through and took the time to help them. The children were the happiest of all, it was heart-warming to see the smiles on their faces when they got a toy and when we played games with them."

What an inspiring story from Avanah!

Volunteers' Week Day 5

For Day 5 of Volunteers’ Week we interviewed Form 1 pupil Rosie Larg about her volunteering as a Tennis Coach with younger children. Rosie is also featured in a YouTube video called ‘She Rallies’ where she speaks about the impact her young female coach had on her wanting to get involved in volunteering herself. You can check out the episode here, with Rosie featuring at 2 minutes 15 seconds: How Tennis is Inspiring the Next Generation of Girls | She Rallies: Episode 1 - YouTube

We also spoke to Form 6 pupil Sahar Jafferbhoy about her experience volunteering at Roxburghe House, a palliative care ward. 

Rosie said, “I help down at Newport and Wormit tennis club; I have been helping there since I was about 11. I started helping just on Wednesdays after school but now I help at summer and Easter camps. Every day in the half term I helped for at least 3 hours. I enjoy helping because I love seeing the younger kids enjoy tennis with a smile on their faces. Teaching younger children what I love to do puts a smile on my face too. I have benefited from my volunteering because it has taught me some great life skills such as speaking to a group, being a leader and helping wherever I can.”

Sahar said, "I started volunteering in Roxburghe House in F5 as part of my enrichment periods, doing the tea trolley once a week. Roxburghe is a palliative care ward, and therefore can often be a tough place to visit, but the strength and perseverance of the patients and their families, is incredibly inspirational. 

"My mum inspired me to start volunteering at Roxburghe; she has undertaken various roles over the past decade alongside her day-to-day job, and always shares with me how rewarding the experience is. From doing the weekly shopping, visiting patients, and replacing hearing aids, among many other things, she comes home every week having contributed to something meaningful in the community.

"I chose to volunteer at Roxburghe to give back to the community – especially in a time when covid was rife, I knew how important it was to go have a chat with patients, in particular, with those who didn't have any visitors. I have learnt that a cup of tea and smile – albeit under a face mask! – can go a long way.

"When I leave Roxburghe after the Summer to go to uni, I hope not only to continue volunteering, but also to remember how a little kindness and generosity is so important."

Fantastic work Rosie and Sahar!

Did you know that lots of our staff also engage in voluntary work? We think this promotes volunteering and role models civic mindedness to our pupils. Today we spoke to L5 teacher Chloe Devlin about her volunteering with the Newman Holiday Trust...

As a Newman Holiday Trust volunteer, I spend one week of the summer holidays as the sole carer of a child with a disability. This is part of a large group made up of volunteers and children with a variety of disabilities and needs.

Each volunteer is responsible for one child for 24 hours a day. We are responsible for feeding, personal care, bedtimes and any troubles throughout the night. 

As a group, we go on a few fun trips throughout the week including Blair Drummond Safari Park and Camperdown, however we are also excellent at making the most basic activities super enjoyable through our constant (and terrible) singing and dancing!

The children love our holidays. For many, it is the only holiday they have ever been on, and the feedback received shows that the Newman Holiday Trust really does change lives, which is now our slogan! 

The holiday is also designed to give respite to the parents and families of the children who attend. Many of these families get very little to no respite from caring for their children. I can attest to the fact that, although it is an incredibly rewarding, special experience and the children who attend are amazing, the mental and physical exhaustion I feel by the end of the week is how these families live 24/7. The parents comment every year how special it was to have some time to themselves to recuperate.

It is an experience like no other. From the positive spirit of the group of volunteers to seeing the pure joy and happiness on the children's faces. Facilitating new experiences and precious moments for children who would not have the means or support to experience them otherwise means a lot to me. Every year I come back utterly exhausted, yes, but with a new lease of life and a new perspective on what is important in life. And I keep going back!

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Chloe! 


As Volunteers' Week 2023 draws to a close, we wanted to share how proud we are of every one of our pupil and staff volunteers who give up their time regularly to make a difference to others in the community. F4 pupil Cameron Brown volunteers at St Mary's Care Home in Monifieth, helping to make the community smile. Today we asked Cameron to share his experience of volunteering: 

"Since the beginning of the year, I have volunteered at St Mary's Care Home in Monifieth working a number of hours each week. I play various board games, engage in memory activation tasks, and a little bit of karaoke and dancing. Residents vary in age, each with their own unique ailments. Interaction with each individual is of paramount importance which clearly brightens their day.

"Every time I walk in, a smile appears on so many of their faces which gives me great satisfaction in knowing that my visits are having a positive impact. I know the residents enjoy the visits as they are always asking when I will be back! During Activities Week, I have booked a slot to sing and play both my piano and violin which will no doubt be entertaining and enjoyable."

Well done Cameron, and thank you to all our brilliant volunteers for sharing your stories this week!