Volunteer Stories

 

We keep in contact with all the volunteers and hold regular reunions.

Our hope is that we will be able to set up “gap year” opportunities with Ursulines across the world.

 

“This trip has helped me to mature in many ways… Being able to serve people less fortunate than me has helped me to understand how people cope in difficult situations and has inspired me to be the same”

 

“I put the word Serviam into action by trying my hardest at any task I was given.  I completed each job with enthusiasm to help others and put them before myself”

 

“Overall the whole experience was brilliant and I’d love to do it all again”

 

Georgia Akuchie, London Day Camps, 2016

 

At first volunteering for London Day Camps in the summer was not my first choice and I regret that it wasn’t because it was truly the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.

 

The whole week was filled with pure excitement from the children and us volunteers. As we stayed in the Ursuline Convent in Forest Gate we had the pleasure of getting to know all the Sisters that were residents there. Between breakfast, lunch and dinner they told us all of their background and stories from their school life, including living in Barbados for 30 years. These were some of the most interesting things I’ve heard.

 

As I looked back on my experience I decided to read over the reflection book we were given and found that I had made a note saying that working with the children on the first day was quite challenging but nonetheless by the second day you knew every character in your group and in other groups as well. Getting to know the children made me appreciate this Ursuline Links organisation more because learning about all their different backgrounds and how they have so much fun and all it took was me taking only a week of my summer to do that.

 

This experience has helped in many ways from giving me an insight into working with children in terms of my career aspirations to meeting amazing new people that I can now call friends. What made the London Day Camp even better was the other four girls I volunteered with. It’s crazy to think we only met each other 3 times before we lived with each other for a week, it has been said by many that it seemed like we knew each other for longer.  This is simply because of how supporting, caring and fun we were with each other. There were many ups and despite a few downs, all in all it was worth it. If I had the opportunity to come back then without doubt I would. 

 

 

 

Josephine Abosede, London Social Justice, 2016

 

“You have more need to serve others than to be served.” St Angela’s wise words were taken into full effect this summer for me. Taking part in the Ursuline Links London Social Justice Project was one of the best decisions of my entire life so far.

 

Being able to go to the different locations around London, meeting the vulnerable, the homeless and the elderly was an experience that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. This project has made me really appreciate all the blessings that God has given me and to be thankful for the littlest things I have. Having the opportunity to have conversations with the elderly and homeless, seeing the positive impact I was bringing to their lives and bringing a smile to their faces, really brought a feeling like no other. An amazing feeling that only could be brought on by serving others and showing my dedication to my faith, by carrying out God’s word of loving thy neighbour.

 

I definitely would take part in the London Social Justice again because it was a life-changing event that enabled me to see life through another person’s perspective. A person who doesn’t have anywhere else to go but to various homeless shelters, in the hopes of getting some help, food and company. I am truly thankful that I was able to take part in this opportunity and I am extremely grateful to Ursuline Links for setting this up and letting me take part.

 

Lauren Inkersole, New Orleans 2016

New Orleans was such a life changing experience! It honestly taught me so much about myself and allowed me to help others at the same time. I would be lying if i said it was easy; the humidity and frustration of base- boarding, installing window sills and so on made the work trying. But this was what made the trip so worthwhile, it gave us a true sense that as a group we contributed to Miss Lisa’s home and future, even if in some small part.

 

All of the people that we met were so grateful and generous that the time in New Orleans flew past. To anyone thinking about volunteering for an Ursuline Links project my advice would be go for it and give it everything you have, it will be worth it!  

Monica Kauzenu, Young Adult Social Justice 2016

This July, I returned to volunteer with Ursuline Links in their Young Adult Social Justice Project based in London. This project was an exciting adventure for three main reasons. Firstly, the project was specifically for adults which gave us more responsibility. Secondly, the project brought together Ursuline past pupils who had volunteered for Ursuline Links in the years before – the noticeable ‘blue shirts’. Lastly, we were able to make new friends with amazing volunteers from New Orleans and St. Louis Missouri in the US.

 

The project was based in various safe havens for homeless people around London. I had the experience of volunteering for two days during the week at Deptford Reach and Killip Close. At Deptford reach, Tina (a former Ursuline student from New Orleans and an enthusiastic aspiring elementary teacher) and I manned the reception desk. They say “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”, and we loved our time there. From playing bingo and cheerfully welcoming any visitors, to pouring tea and monitoring the shower schedule. We were both engrossed with the vitality of the visitors and generosity many of them showed to us.

 

I then had the pleasure of volunteering in Killip Close with Tina and Rachel (a former St. Angela’s Forest Gate Ursuline student from London looking to study Psychology at university). Brother Christopher ensured we created a ‘Kingdom on Earth’ atmosphere with prayer, reflection and uplifting music. We set up the room, waited tables, cleaned the kitchen/ dining areas and genuinely built a rapport with the visitors. They had such a zest for life and a deep faith – I was even addressed one time as “sister”.

 

During the final day, we reflected on our experiences as “serving without reflecting is like eating without digesting”. My experience ended with a wonderful dinner at Strada, Westfield Stratford City. All volunteers were in attendance from all days of the July project which gave us a fantastic opportunity to bond even further. The flurry of contact information being exchanged exemplified the friendships that were built, and the strong determination to come back and serve with Ursuline Links in the years to come.

Isobel Curry, Youth Leader Thanet Day Camp 2016

Taking part in the Thanet Day Camp project was my second time volunteering with Ursuline Links. Unsurprisingly it was completely different to my experience in New Orleans. It was, however, no less rewarding. Spending a week working with children helped my confidence grow even further, something Ursuline Links has really been a part of for me.

 

More importantly I saw amazing change in the children we were working with. Children who had been shy and quiet at the beginning of the week starting to come out of their shells, others willing to try activities such as archery and climbing. Receiving thank you cards from some of the children and the pure joy they took from the week was so lovely. It was great to see them enjoying the crafts, baking, science, sports, dance, drama and a trip to the zoo! I hope what we were able to give those children that week was invaluable and something they’ll remember for a long time.

 

I am incredibly grateful to have volunteered with Ursuline Links these past two summers, I’ve met some amazing people that have remained amazing friends and I have gained such incredible experience.

LeAnn Gyekye, New Orleans  2016

After hearing about the different Ursuline links projects during assembly I was instantly intrigued, knowing that Ursuline links was all about bringing the community together. I was extremely excited to be a part of it.

 

Volunteering in New Orleans, America was amazing and the best decision I’ve made so far. Volunteering there gave me the chance to learn more about Hurricane Katrina and how important the St. Bernard projects and Ursuline links contribution was to the community and Miss Lisa.
I was also able to experience the vibrant culture New Orleans had to offer. The dancing and music in the streets. The different types of art work that covered the gates of Jackson Square.

 

I was even lucky to meet the Ursuline sisters, some of the Ursuline academy students and other volunteers throughout my stay. This was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. Giving service to the community really showed me that anything you do, no matter how big or small it may be makes a difference.

 

Meeting Miss Lisa and her family gave me so much joy knowing that I’d made a difference to their lives. The friendships I made with the other Ursuline volunteers that accompanied me on the trip truly added to my experience as a whole, as they were supportive and hardworking throughout.

Christy Threvasathan, Thanet Day Camp 2016

The Thanet Day Camp was a wonderful experience. We only took a week out of our summer holidays to spend with these kids who all came from a variety of different backgrounds. Some needed time away from what was going on around them, for others this was the only holiday they were going to get. Each child had their own story to tell.

 

They took part in a variety of activities throughout the week, ranging from arts and craft and cooking, to sports and even a trip to a safari. The children thoroughly enjoyed their week. You soon realised, as little as losing a week of our holidays meant for us volunteers, it meant a hell of a lot more for these kids.

 

Every activity and event which took place was kindly funded by some very generous people, so none of this would have been possible without their help.

Charlotte Arulseelan, New Orleans 2016

New Orleans was an amazing opportunity which I had the pleasure of taking part in to help make a difference to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. It was one of the best experiences, which allowed me to meet so many new people. I was quite nervous at the start not knowing what to expect when I arrive there and also if I was going to get along with any of the volunteers as I didn’t know anyone.

 

I was surprised at how easily I made friends with the other volunteers. The amount of hard work you put into someone’s home is all worth it when you meet the owners and see how grateful they are that you have come over to help them get back on their feet and have a place to call home. This opportunity not only allows you to meet Ursuline students in London but also in New Orleans and learn about their culture. I have made many friends not only those in the UK but also those in the US who I am still in contact with today. Not all students in the country have the privilege of being about to go to a school which is part of such a huge community where you get opportunities like this.

 

During my stay at New Orleans I saw how awful it was that even 11 years after hurricane Katrina people are still not in their homes. Volunteering for Ursuline links has helped me to learn and understand many things and be grateful for everything that I have. To all those considering taking part in Ursuline links I highly recommend New Orleans as it will help you grow as a person and learn new things.