I grew up in Vietnam and was frequently involved in volunteering with local organisations, so I wanted to continue this work when I came to university. I particularly wanted to volunteer in the social care sector, as I aspire to be a social worker when I graduate. Through my Sociology degree, I was given the opportunity to visit DASH and listen to a talk about the work they do in the local community. I am fortunate to study a degree that allows me to learn about the inequality that is embedded in society and start important conversations about how to tackle such issues. Inspired by the meaningful change DASH makes in the lives of rough sleepers, I applied to volunteer in July 2020. This meant that any volunteering work I did would take place online, in light of the current lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was delighted to be taken on by DASH despite the difficult circumstances and have found that my time volunteering has been both rewarding and challenging. As volunteers we had to find innovative ways to coordinate the handling of social media, promote fundraisers solely online, and organise meetings via Zoom having never met each other in real life. Despite these obstacles I found myself surrounded by lovely and supportive staff and volunteers, and together we have worked hard on boosting the social media image of DASH. I also act as the St Cuthbert’s Society College Ambassador for DASH which helps bridge the gap between DASH and the colleges at Durham University, allowing more students to get involved in raising funds and awareness. This has been such a rewarding opportunity, and I’m grateful for the flexibility and support offered by DASH staff which allowed new volunteers to join and contribute to important work through creative methods. This year has proven to be a challenge for everyone, but it’s vital that we continue to support the essential work of organisations like DASH in any way that we can, and I’m extremely appreciative to have this opportunity to help.