By Neha Soni
Local resident Neha Soni has been volunteering with the Heston West Big Local for just under a year.
In this time Neha has been involved with our Youth Action Team's summer campaign on Life Skills and Politics and has supported in a number of community activities and events.
Through volunteering with the Big Local, Neha gained the skills, experience and confidence to gain a paid internship role with our local MP Seema Malhotra. We are very proud to have played an important role in helping Neha achieve this fantastic goal.
We thank Neha for the great work she has done for us and wish her the very best in her new role. In November 2017, Neha also received the Big Local Star Community Volunteer 2017 Award for her outstanding effort and contribution to the Big Local.
Read Neha's personal volunteering journey below.
My name is Neha Soni and I am 22 years old. Last year, I graduated with a degree in Politics, International Relations and Philosophy. I enjoyed my degree and knew that I wanted to work in the political sector in the future but I soon realised this harder than it seemed. I was working as a team leader in a retail store throughout my degree and I was not enjoying it. I decided to volunteer abroad with International Citizen Service for three months in Zimbabwe. I taught in primary and secondary schools and had the experience of a lifetime. I learnt how charities work and the impact one person could make in a community. When I came home, I returned to my retail job and decided it was time for a change.
"Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, have fun and gain new skills. It was especially useful for me, as I now possess the skills needed for my current role..."
Before our campaign to increase community awareness on HIV/AIDS
Later, I left my retail job and applied for jobs in the political sector. I did not have much experience aside from my degree, so I applied for volunteer roles too. I volunteered with Big Local Heston West and other charities to help build my skills. I enjoyed my time volunteering much more than my retail job and I was learning a lot more; I was interacting with community members in a fun environment, positively contributing to my community, gaining more confidence and working in a motivated team. At a Big Local community event, I spoke to my local MP about job opportunities and I am now working in my local MP's office. If I did not volunteer I would not have had the opportunity to work for my MP. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, have fun and gain new skills. It was especially useful for me, as I now possess the skills needed for my current role and I have a new perspective on how I can make a difference.