International Volunteer Day
What is better than giving our volunteers the recognition they deserve with a short piece and a chat over a brew with WEA Volunteer – William Koncowoj
Whilst in Rotherham Town Centre, William Koncowoj stopped at a WEA Stall and met Maxine Turner, WEA Education Co-ordinator. They spoke about the organisation and the great things it has achieved and funnily enough, Bill had already known about the WEA when he living in South Wales. Bill became engaged with WEA as a student, successfully completing courses and went on to becoming the Treasurer of the Branch in South Wales.
Having moved to Rotherham, Bill was keen to get involved with the WEA again and became a Branch member almost straight away and has been with us for 6 years now. He has undertaken duties as a Classroom Support Volunteer, supporting students with learning difficulties for at least a year and enrolled again to do the same this term.
We asked Bill a few questions about what prompted his interest in volunteering and what he would advise to other thinking about it..
Why prompted you to become a Volunteer?
As an adult, I could not read or write and found ways around doing things so that other people did not know that was the case. That very first step into going back into education was massive and from my personal experience I know how difficult that can be. So I am able to sympathise with students and encourage and support them where needed.
What have you gained when being a volunteer?
Being involved with the Branch has helped me to find out what’s happening within my local community, keeps me busy and has developed my confidence and self-esteem. I attend Branch meetings and am a representative from the branch to Regional Meetings and share my knowledge and life experience to help others.
What makes volunteering special?
I am dyslexic, but this has never been a problem, it has helped me to understand and support others. There was one instance when a student asked me to spell a word, I couldn’t and without hesitation I just asked the tutor and have also asked other students too for guidance. The WEA classroom is a sharing supportive place, it’s about working together so I don’t feel embarrassed if I can’t spell a word.
The tutor is supportive in helping me to understand what is going on in the sessions and planning lessons. He involves me in making decisions with the students and talking to them about what they are capable of doing and supporting them to make progress. I started working with one student and now I am making progress. I am working with more than one student and some of them call me over when they get stuck. This has built my confidence and self-esteem and when you see someone starting to improve there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing you are helping others.
I have met new people, learnt new skills too. Just recently I have learnt how to change a word document to a PDF file. I now know what’s going on in my local community, know about the educational opportunities available and work with people who appreciate my skills and life experiences.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking bout volunteering?
Just go for it!!!
We would like to thank Bill, along with all our volunteers across the region for helping make the WEA the organisation it is today. Thank you for supporting us, in supporting new students.
If you want to join us in volunteering role, please contact Shirley Allen-Jackson via email email@example.com for a chat. We have varied volunteering role from classroom support to Talk English Tutor volunteering!