Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Volunteering Blues

April 27th, 2010 · No Comments

At the beginning of the semester, I was really excited to start my potential volunteering project, but as time went on a mix of bad luck and poor responses from potential sources made the volunteering requirement for the semester rather frustrating for me. Because my paper focuses on analyzing the quality of treatment offered in the UK for those suffering from eating disorders. My original plan was to volunteer once a week at the Norfolk Eating Disorders Association located in the city centre, but unfortunately the times they had available conflicted with my academic schedule. My next option was to contact various sources around Norfolk and London to try to get a bunch of interviews to help me with my project. I sent out a number or e-mails and made phone calls to these places and mostly got negative responses. Of the positive responses I got, many failed to follow through with actually answering the questions I sent to them or with setting up appointments to meet in person. One doctor offered to give me a tour of his treatment centre, but when I told him that I would greatly appreciate it and would like to set up an appointment, he never responded. The one woman who was kind enough to make an appointment with me ended up having to cancel for personal reasons. For a while it seemed to me as if I would never get my hours completed simply because I was having the worst luck in finding people who would be willing to talk to me.

I had never experience such cold responses when I was looking to volunteer for or research any cause previously, so I was (and still am) a bit shocked by my experience. Upon reflection, I know there are things I could have done differently. I could have been much more persistent with my contact. I also might have gotten better responses if I showed up to these places in person and asked if I could set up an appointment to speak with someone, though I was afraid I would take the time to travel and end up being shut down. Still, I wonder why it was so difficult for me to get in touch with people who could help me–maybe it was the sensitive nature of their work or maybe they were simply too busy.

I eventually refocused my energies into finding any volunteer opportunity rather than just those that related to my project. Now, my volunteer hours will be a combination of both related and unrelated experience. I eventually found Holidays from Home, with which I am currently working. There will be more posts to come about that experience. I also managed to secure an appointment with a counselor at the UEA Counselling Service, who will be helping me with my project. I also plan to go to some GPs in the Norwich area, to see what kind of information they have available to help me with my research paper.

Tags: Sarah