Kasia Kwiecien – My Volunteering Journey

I came to the UK in 2009 to join my mum who had been living in North Wales for quite some time. Since then, I’ve started my own family, grown some roots and developed a career.

My volunteering journey began, when after 8 years of working in hospitality, I started to crave a change. I wanted to gain some new skills, meet people from different backgrounds and walks of life and better understand the community I lived in. Then one of my dear friends told me “Volunteering is the very thing that will help you to achieve all that. You will learn so much and you will meet people you would never meet otherwise.” Her words instigated my interest in volunteering and I started doing some research to explore options in my local area. At that time I was working part-time as a waitress in a hotel, my children were both in school and so I had some free time I could invest in, in my new quest.Kasia Jan Certificate

I began looking for volunteering opportunities online and eventually registered on the Volunteering Wales website and applied for few different roles, as I wasn’t sure in which field I would like to progress (develop my skills). I wanted to help others but also to learn new skills that could help me in the future. Then Volunteer Development Officer, Donna from CVSC, contacted me offering support and guidance. We exchanged a few emails and she referred me to a few different opportunities I was interested in. One of them was the Drop-in Volunteer at then Aberconwy Mind (now Conwy Mind) and the other one was Administration Assistant Volunteer at CVSC itself. I commenced both, as I felt that they could provide different experiences, and would help me to decide which direction I should go in. I enjoyed both for various reasons.

In Conwy Mind, volunteer co-ordinator, Mark Rose, introduced me to the group of service users and to other volunteers who were all lovely and open individuals. I had an opportunity to get involved with a project offering a safe space for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities. I was able to see with my own eyes how much they benefited from just having a chat and a laugh with a friendly person, ie how important it is for them that someone listens and pays attention. Even simple things like playing board games gave them joy. Once I had earned their trust, they shared their stories with me, and I felt grateful that they let me into their lives. It gave me sense of satisfaction. It was a very valuable experience. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances I had to finish volunteering for Conwy Mind after a few months.

At the same time as I was volunteering for Conwy Mind, I started my admin role at CVSC. I enjoyed it from the very first day. All staff and other volunteers were very friendly and helpful and made me feel welcome which meant a great deal for me being a foreign national. I learned something new every day, not only about administration duties, but also about how Third Sector organisations in Conwy County work and what they offer to the community. It was fascinating and eye-opening to realise that so many local people give their time and effort to help others in so many different fields. This gave me a motivation to do my best to make their work easier and more efficient. And I discovered I am good at it and the office environment suits me very well. My mentor, Jan Smith, was always there to support me and guide me in gaining new skills and knowledge. I’ve built up my confidence and self-esteem to the point where I was able to pick up the phones and deal with enquiries without a shake in my voice and attend events like Provider events in the local library and Job Centre to share my story with others, and help them to start their own volunteering journey.

After a year, I was given an opportunity to take on a part-time paid role as an Admin Assistant and I was over the moon! This was something I thought I would never be able to do – to change my career and work in a sector I’ve become really passionate about and it is a dream come true. It was a first step as I still had to work in a restaurant at the same time to support my family, but it led to even greater things as I now work full time for CVSC and I couldn’t be happier. I will be forever grateful to everybody at CVSC for opening their doors, hearts and filing cabinets to me. For the whole of my time volunteering at CVSC I’ve been respected, cared for and appreciated.

Volunteering truly has changed my life as now I’m in a completely different place to where I was four years ago when it all started. A much better place.

Jan Smith, CVSC says “Kasia was a ray of sunshine from day one and she brought with her endless enthusiasm, commitment and hard work. She has inspired so many people to the benefits of volunteering and contributed vastly to our increased social media presence and our web development. She is a talented individual and CVSC is very fortunate in having her as an integral part of our team. A huge thank you Kasia, for all your considerable efforts.”

Community and Voluntary Support Conwy
7 Rhiw Rd, Colwyn Bay LL29 7TG

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