Volunteering at SARSAS as a young person
A comms volunteer talks about their experience at SARSAS and why you should get involved too.
At University, many of my friends participated in extracurricular sport, music and drama. These things were never my forte, but I was worried that I was missing out on opportunities to develop non-academic skills.
I have always been passionate about women’s issues, social justice and equality, and knew I wanted to spend my spare time productively.
So, when the opportunity came along to apply to volunteer at SARSAS on the communications team, I knew it would be a great fit.
I have volunteered at SARSAS since January 2022. My main responsibilities have been creating social media posts on issues such as self-care, consent and spiking, conducting research and uploading content to the SARSAS website.
Getting involved in campaigns, such as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, and learning how to rally momentum on social media, has been particularly interesting. Updating SARSAS’s website challenged me technically but gave me another skill in my toolbox. And navigating the world of TikTok and coming up with new ways to engage a wider audience allowed me to use my more creative side.
I have enjoyed not only being part of an essential effort to help and support thousands of victim-survivors of sexual violence and abuse, but learning about the wider, systemic causes of sexual violence and how we can bring about change. For example, by keeping the onus on perpetrator behaviour, promoting bystander approaches, improving safety and monitoring policies in schools and workplaces, and supporting victim-survivor-centred services.
Of course, the practical advantage of volunteering is that it makes you stand out to employers. As well as gaining knowledge of the sector, understanding how to conduct yourself in a professional environment is invaluable. While sending emails and attending meetings may seem simple, it can be daunting if you have limited work experience.
Volunteering at SARSAS has massively boosted my confidence. My soft skills, such as time management, creativity and teamwork, have definitely improved. I have a better understanding of my strengths and where I want my career to go. And I have something unique to speak about with genuine enthusiasm in interviews.
Above all, I have had fun and feel extremely fulfilled. Although discussing rape and sexual assault can undoubtedly be challenging, the staff at SARSAS are extremely supportive. I have attended a range of interesting training and supervision sessions and in weekly meetings, have always been encouraged to bring forward my own ideas.
SARSAS have generously invested their time to help me make a real impact and I cannot recommend getting involved in the work they do enough.
Although I have found it really inspiring working alongside those who are going the extra mile to push for change, we must keep the momentum going.
Rape and sexual assault are talked about more openly than before but conviction rates remain extremely low and victim-survivors are facing long delays for their cases to reach court – only 1 in 100 rapes recorded in 2021 resulted in a charge that same year. And discussions still tend to centre around what women and girls should be doing to keep themselves safe.
So, get involved! Whatever stage of life you are in, try something new, learn some new skills and help to really make a difference.
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