Giving back: CA student Lauren Wilson
Lauren Wilson, a trainee at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) in Aberdeen, has been recognised with a Youth Involvement Certificate for her voluntary work with the elderly to combat loneliness. We spoke with Lauren to find out her advice for other CA students looking to give back to their communities.
The hard-working student is a volunteer driver with Contact the Elderly, and is due to qualify as a CA in Autumn 2018. The charity provides transport to free monthly tea parties for socially isolated people, which take place across Scotland on Sundays. AABi (AAB's charitable foundation) have now included Contact the Elderly in their volunteering schedule as a direct result of Lauren's work with them.
Karen Stewart, AABi Trustee said: "We are delighted to be hosting a series of Afternoon Tea events for Contact the Elderly. We first became aware of the charity through Lauren who was so passionate about the charity that we decided to offer a volunteering opportunity with Contact the Elderly as part of our annual volunteering activities for staff.
"So many of our people wanted to get involved that we decided to do something a bit different and invite the charity to our office where we would host an afternoon tea, which quickly turned into six different events!”
The business has since held an afternoon for around 25 guests and volunteers at their Aberdeen premises. Lauren said: "I was inspired by our company’s charitable initiative AABi and decided to volunteer in a personal capacity after I came across Contact the Elderly.
"I just love it and have developed good relationships with the ladies I take to the parties. Everybody has got such an interesting story to tell, it’s really quite fascinating. It’s such a small amount of time to give but it means so much to them.”
What advice do you have for other students on training contracts who also want to give back to the community?
During your training contract, it can be very stressful juggling work, studying and personal commitments and the thought of devoting time to something else can be daunting. However, giving back to the community through volunteering or other means can actually help with your work and studying.
Volunteering helps keep you grounded and provides a break from all the day to day stresses of work and studying, allowing you to be more productive and focused when you are studying.
I volunteer for one afternoon per month which in the grand scheme of things is a very small portion of your time but it allowed me to spend valuable time with people who otherwise don’t get out very much and who are very appreciative of your company.
Whilst studying for your ICAS qualification and starting your career, it can be very easy for life to pass you by as you have so much to focus on, but giving back a small amount of time it allowed me to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the smaller things in life.
How did you balance your time with your role and studies?
Managing your time between work and studying can be challenging but by making the right compromises and planning out your week it is possible. I decided to change my working hours slightly so I finished earlier in the afternoon allowing me to study more at night, and around exam time a lot of social events had to be postponed. It seems like a big compromise at the time but it is all worth it.
I would plan each week out in my diary so I knew my work commitment and I could allocate sufficient time for studying; by doing this I was able to ensure I still had some downtime to enjoy personal commitments.
Although work and studying is very important, I also found that by ensuring I had some allocated personal time I was able to focus better when I was studying - I wasn’t burning myself out by studying every waking moment.
Lauren with her award, alongside fellow winner and partner, Daniel Campion.
What are your aims for after qualification – will you continue your volunteering, or maybe take it even further in a professional capacity?
I am due to finish my training contract in September this year and once I am time qualified I will definitely continue to volunteer. Hopefully, I will be able to become more involved with the charity and dedicate more time to it with the aim of becoming an ambassador for the charity.
Through the charity I volunteer with, I have met wonderful people and since finishing my final exam, I have been able to volunteer my time personally with the organised charity events and I will hopefully be able to this more regularly.
Also, through work we are encouraged to take part in volunteering each year, therefore, this gives me the opportunity to learn about other local charities as well as encourage my colleagues to volunteer in a personal capacity.
To find out more about becoming a guest or volunteer of Contact the Elderly in Scotland, please contact Caroline Peter on 01561 405011 or email.