Student Volunteering Week 2018: Bea's story

Monday 19-02-2018 - 12:07
Bea cover

To kick off Student Volunteering Week 2018, we chatted with Bea Donnerstag about their volunteering experiences.

“There are a few things I do to volunteer – I’m on two committees at The Union. I’m the LGBT+ representative for the Feminist Society, and I also founded a society last year, called Time to Change. That was founded in August and it came out of the It’s OK to talk about mental health campaign. I was aware that might stop running eventually and I wanted positivity towards mental health to be something that became entrenched in student culture. I think it’s also nice to be around people who understand what you are going through. It’s an understanding environment and we’ve got plans coming up this year, holding socials and hopefully that will go well.

I’m also involved in a few other things – one of them is a group called Non Binary North West, which supports trans and non-binary identified people. It’s now a proper not-for-profit although we are very small. Our aim is to provide a social space for trans and non-binary people and also to provide training for organisations, so people who work with vulnerable people in particular, to educate on trans issues. I’m also involved in a project called ‘Free to be OK with me’ which is a body positivity project based in Manchester that was started via LadyFest. It was a workshop run by my now friend Lauren that then turned into a campaign in itself. It’s been around for a year now and we’re working on a photography project to look at the diversity and capability of bodies and defying societies’ expectations of what a body can do. It will hopefully go on Instagram and we’ll see how that goes.

I do find volunteering very rewarding and enjoyable. It’s one of those things that is a large source of motivation in my life  –  I feel like it’s important to me to be able to use the power I have to try and tackle the issues that exist. There is so much going on in the world and sometimes the best way to feel empowered, instead of feeling like there is nothing you can do, is to just go out and do something. I think so many people just feel that’s how it is, and just accept it, but the best way to not feel helpless is to make a plan and go out and do something. The social aspect is also great – I think I’ve met some of the best people ever whilst campaigning and through activism, and I’ve met people who I feel are on the same level as me. We have that mutual understanding because they care about the same things as me, and so I have forged some good relationships which is really nice.”

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