‘Attention on deck’
‘Aye aye captain’
Most of the time I would absolutely cringe when asked to do any kind of acting, but on a Thursday afternoon I can be found proudly saluting the captain at the Hackney Pirate’s ship.
Once a week I volunteer with the Literacy Pirates, who help kids from the local schools with their literacy (reading and writing). The charity, founded in East London, offer a fun out-of-school learning environment for the pirates (children aged 9-12) in a make-shift pirate ship. A session usually consists of an ice-breaker game, followed by 45 minutes of one-to-one reading and a well deserved break. After, the pirates focus on developing their literacy skills through a creative project each term. Since I’ve volunteered, the pirates have created an informative poster about a social issue they are passionate about and created a ‘calming app’ about a soothing alien planet of their own creation!
When asked to write a reflective piece on why I chose to volunteer with the Literacy Pirates the main reason that came to mind was to give back to my community. During my 3 years at LSE, I lived in central London. Whilst there were major benefits to this (close proximity to multiple 24 hour McDonalds and the short commute to university), I definitely felt a lack of community. Whether this was due to being in central London, or just down to being a student is still up for debate but, when I moved to Hackney I was really keen to get involved in all things local! So, I signed up to the gym (pending cancellation this month), got a membership to the local library (renew loan, renew loan) and joined the crew at the Literacy Pirates.
Doing a political science degree may have nearly killed my passion for reading, but I actually LOVE books. So, being able to help young pirates increase their confidence in reading and writing is really rewarding. Teachers refer students that they know will benefit from a bit of extra help with literacy, and the impact is astonishing. Statistics show that pirates improve their reading age over 50% faster than age related expectations and 95% of parents saw an increase in confidence in their children. Anecdotally, the benefits to the pirates are so visible, even after one session! It’s also so refreshing to hang out with the young pirates, as I have now entered the world of full time employment. Hearing about life from a 10-year old’s perspective is both hilarious and heart-warming.
By becoming a volunteer crewmate I’ve been able to utilise my skills and passions to give back to my local community. Whilst helping children with literacy and walking the plank* may not be everyone’s cup of tea, volunteering is certainly a great way to get involved in your area and make connections with people outside of the university bubble. As LSE Volunteer Centre Coordinator, I see so many amazing opportunities for students to get involved in local projects with our charity partners, that there’s definitely something for everyone!
*Disclaimer: nobody is actually made to walk a plank
If we’ve inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities that will return for Michaelmas Term 2019, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.