Monday 8 April 2013
Emily Yates, QM English Literature student and Paralympic Games Maker, recently became one of the faces of a national volunteering campaign. The campaign, run by the National Council for Volunteering Organisations (NCVO), features videos of four people in the community who are involved in volunteering, and why they do it. Emily tells us a bit about herself, her experience of volunteering, how Lord Sebastian Coe quoted her in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games and her plans to produce a travel guide for those with lesser mobility for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
‘I’m in my final year, studying BA English Literature. I’m from Skipton in North Yorkshire, and a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy.’
‘At QM, I was president of Enactus (formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)) in my fresher year, which encourages teams to build projects which help their community either socially, financially, or environmentally. We taught women from the Ocean Estate English, therefore halting the isolation they experienced in the surrounding area. We also enabled a number of young people to volunteer at the Olympics in 2012 by working with Represent London.’
‘I applied to become a Games Maker in my first year at QM and didn’t hear anything for ages. I went to the University of Melbourne on exchange in 2011/12, and a week after I got back to the UK I was told I’d been successful, and would be working with the wheelchair fencing team at the Paralympics.’
‘I was part of the warm-up team, so prepared athletes for their big moment! Our team worked with the athletes as they were warming-up, and got to see and hold the medals they brought backstage! My favourite moment was being mentioned by Lord Seb Coe at the Closing Ceremony. I wasn’t expecting it as I’d only met him by coincidence at a press conference we’d both done the week before.’
‘NCVO contacted me after the Games. I jumped at the chance of being involved and I loved the filming process. It was filmed at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, and took around three hours to film. It was great to be able to share my story, and talk about why I think volunteering is important.’
‘After I graduate, I’m hoping to write a travel guide to Rio 2016 for those with a lesser mobility, who would like to go to the next Games, but would struggle without extra support and guidance on access. I’m currently trying to raise the funds needed, but hope to be in Rio for a few months at the beginning of 2014 to get the project moving.’
‘Volunteering is important to me because I feel I can give something back as a way of saying thanks for all the great opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. When you don’t work for money, the real reason why you decided to give up your time really becomes clear. It’s a feeling you can’t describe, but seeing the effects your time and effort is having on others is the most incredible feeling. QM students can get involved by contacting QMSU, signing up with Provide Volunteering, or just keeping their eyes out for any opportunities!’
Emily got interested in volunteering through QMSU's Volunteering team. For more information on the volunteering opportunities that Emily was involved in, and to find out more about volunteering at Queen Mary, visit QMSU Volunteering at www.qmsu.org/volunteering.
You can watch Emily’s film on the NCVO’s YouTube Channel now.