I’m Jill Bunyan, 24, from Glasgow. I recently started my new role at Midlothian Voluntary Action as a Social Justice and Financial Inclusion Graduate Intern. I’m thrilled to start my graduate career in the third sector, and excited to support MVA’s work over the coming months. Here’s a bit about me:
- Due to a change in career plans, I took a year out between school and university, during which I worked two jobs and volunteered in my free time
- I went to the University of Strathclyde and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Scots Law. I also spent a semester at the University of Copenhagen as part of the Erasmus Programme
- I quickly realised that going down the path of training as a solicitor wasn’t for me. Instead, I chose to pursue my passion for environmental law and undertook a Master’s Degree at the University of Edinburgh in Global Environment and Climate Change Law. I graduated in 2020
- During my time at university, I worked in several part-time jobs in hospitality and as a student ambassador. I was also the treasurer for Erasmus Student Network Strathclyde in my 4th year, and treasurer for the Postgraduate Law Society during my Master’s
- Prior to joining MVA, I worked in the family business as an Administrative Assistant while applying for graduate roles.
What volunteering I have done
- I am on the Steering Group for Young Friends of the Earth Scotland (YFoES). Through YFoES, I was part of a youth organisation collaboration to organise Scotland’s Youth Environment Hustings in the lead up to the Scottish elections. Currently, I am working with others to deliver our campaign objectives for COP26
- I am on the committee for Get Glasgow Moving. It is a grassroots network and we are campaigning for a fully integrated, accessible and affordable public transport system in Glasgow. Most recently, I did the voice-over for our new campaign video
- I have been a volunteer for the Children’s Hearing System for six years
- I worked as a sustainability research volunteer for People and Planet. My role was to help gather data to contribute to the production of the 2021 People and Planet University League Table, which ranks UK universities on their environmental and ethical performance
- During high school, I volunteered at my local RSPB Nature Reserve and my local wildlife rescue centre as part of fulfilling the requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Why did I want to work for MVA and in the third sector?
- By working for MVA I will be able to network and engage with different partners and organisations. This will allow me to learn from a wide group of individuals with expertise on tackling social justice issues who share the same values and help me effectively contribute to MVA’s projects.
- The third sector is well positioned to influence and create change that will improve people’s lives and I wanted to be part of that.
What advice would I give to those wanting to volunteer?
Volunteering is a great opportunity to get involved in a cause that you are passionate about, or the opportunity to try something completely new. Don’t be embarrassed if the first one (or few) you try don’t work out or aren’t the right fit for you. There are so many worthy organisations out there that are looking for volunteers. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to a cause and enables you to develop skills and knowledge that you can apply in your professional career. It’s also a chance to meet new people and make friends.
Advice for those job hunting and how to stand out in your applications
- Talk about your interests/hobbies and what you are passionate about! This shows a bit of your personality and helps you stand out
- Research the company/organisation. Make sure you understand their ethos and values and incorporate this into your application. This demonstrates interest in the company, and not just the position
- As exhausting as applying for jobs can be, don’t give up, and keep working on personal development. The right opportunity is around the corner.
My future plans
This role will provide me with a good introduction on how best to support and coordinate projects to tackle social justice issues, providing me with skills and experience that I can take forward. I’m passionate about tackling climate and marine environment issues, and collaborating with others to protect our natural world. I would love to work for an international NGO, working in policy and research, to work towards achieving climate and social justice.
We’re delighted to be part of the Kickstart initiative, created as part of the government’s coronavirus response to provide paid employment and career support to Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24. Fraser Waugh started with us this week thanks to Kickstart – we have also discovered that Fraser is a former Volunteer Midlothian volunteer! Over to Fraser to introduce himself:
Hi, I’m Fraser Waugh, 23, from Penicuik. I have just begun my new role at Midlothian Voluntary Action. After many months of job searching, including sending away 55 applications, CVs, covering letters and nearly 18 months out of full-time employment; I am very pleased to be now working in a sector I am passionate about. I am eager to promote the amazing projects that are happening in and around Midlothian. So, a bit about me:
My earlier years before MVA
- After I left school, I went to Forth Valley College in Stirling to complete an HND in Media and Communications
- Then worked at Ikea Edinburgh for over 2 years
- Recently I finished my studies at Queen Margaret University in 2020, gaining a BA (Hons) in PR, Marketing and Events right at the start of the pandemic!
- Now that I have a Kickstart role, I’ll receive on-the-job training and gain some valuable transferable experiences that will allow me to continue in a communications role.
What volunteering have I done?
I’ve volunteered in Midlothian – mostly when I was at high school, but throughout my life too:
- Assisted in the start-up of the Beadazzling jewellery store in Dalkeith as part of Volunteer Midlothian’s Ready for Retail Project. I also created original jewellery designs such as earrings, bracelets and necklaces, helped run workshops and craft fair stalls, and was a retail assistant. This project was also recognised for all the hard work we did at the Volunteer Awards at Newbattle Abbey College. I was also part of another Volunteer Midlothian befriending project, a ‘Sew Crafty’ craft group designed to match up young people with older members of the local community. We knitted, made cards, a bit of jewellery making and any other craft skills that the lovely ladies knew!
- From doing the Sew Crafty craft group and Beadazzling I gained an ‘Ascent’ Saltire award.
- I starred in a film project in collaboration with Screen Education Edinburgh on behalf of MYPAS Thinking Differently. We were taught all aspects of filmmaking and created a film on the theme of alcohol abuse. This was filmed on location in Dalkeith and screened at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. You can watch it here.
- I have also been in Scouting since I was six – now I’m a Cub Scout Leader in Penicuik and an Explorer Leader in Bonnyrigg.
- On the theme of scouting, I won the senior category in the south of Scotland’s regional district Rotary Club’s National Young Writer’s Competition. The finalists were invited to a presentation at Waterstone’s in Glasgow. Bill Daly, the Scottish crime writer, and Alistair Marquis (District Governor) gave us certificates in recognition for our writing.
Why did I want to work for MVA and the third sector?
- At MVA there will be a lot of scope for me to get involved in different projects and initiatives – promoting these causes and making a difference appeals to me.
- The third sector, volunteering and charities especially make a massive contribution to society and it is an industry where there is a lot of transformative work happening.
What advice would I give to people who want to volunteer? And those who are job searching and looking to ‘stand out’ in applications?
- GET IN TOUCH with your local volunteering provider! Particularly due to the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of charities/other non-for-profit organisations need as much help as possible.
- Volunteering is great for your mental health and career prospects – this was the case for me! Your job prospects increase a lot as you are helping your local community and learning a lot of different skills in another context outside of work. The opportunities are endless and help you stand out!
My future plans?
What I hope to get out of my time at MVA is to gain valuable charity experience that will allow me to continue in a communications role in the third sector. With the experience and training I hope to receive from this role, I’d love to eventually become a brand strategist in a PR or marketing agency creating and implementing strategies for a range of different clients and brands.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in Midlothian communities. We’ve seen people banding together to look after neighbours and the environment. Now is time to think about the next steps and keep that energy going. Do you want to make change in your community?
Midlothian Council’s Communities and Lifelong Learning Service and Midlothian Voluntary Action have created a free four-week introductory course to community changemaking which starts on 1 June 2021. The course will be led by Daniel Baigrie (Midlothian Council) and Rebecca McKinney (MVA), both with many years’ experience in community development and changemaking.
Find out more about the course.
Lothian 4×4 Drivers are offering winter driving skills training for staff and volunteers, aimed at helping them to be safer and more confident driving in winter conditions. In the past, participants in the sessions have given them a unanimous thumbs up, being educational and entertaining too – and certainly contributing to the safety and confidence of local drivers during the winter months.
This opportunity is a great one to include in your winter planning and preparation. It will be an online session, for obvious reasons. If you are interested in this for your staff and/or volunteers but wouldn’t have 10 people available to participate, get in touch and we’ll try to group more than one organisation together.
The Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme is a £25m Scottish Government funded programme aiming to support charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations that are supporting people and communities through the shift from lockdown to recovery. As well as providing ongoing crisis support, the fund will enable changes that will help organisations to adapt and thrive in a very different social and economic climate. The programme has two main strands:
This stream aims to support organisational change. It offers tailored support and funding to develop a plan so that third sector organisations can operate sustainably post-pandemic.
This stream supports the delivery of services in communities that were suspended or reduced because of COVID-19, or the creation of services that tackle new challenges presented by the pandemic.
You can apply now
Both strands are now open. The two funds are based around an integrated system so, if required, a request can be made to both programmes using a single application form.