Hi, my name is Lorenzo and I have just started volunteering at COCO as part of the career development module for final year students at Newcastle University. I study Geography here at Newcastle, a subject which, while I enjoy it immensely, does not directly lead into any particular job at the end of the three year course. This is why I chose to take the career development module. I knew it would help me begin to think about my future career path while at the same time be beneficial by giving me more practical workplace skills you just can’t get by sitting in a lecture theatre.
I stumbled across COCO while looking for volunteering placements available through the university “go volunteer” webpage. I found out they were a local charity situated within Newcastle with links to the university and had overseas projects working in three East African countries. As a Geography student, I have studied how development projects work and the benefits foreign aid can have when invested correctly. I thought my previous knowledge was well suited to a charitable organisation and decided to apply to become a volunteer here at COCO.
To my delight I was accepted and would undertake the role of PR and Marketing volunteer during my final year in Newcastle. I had no idea what to expect before joining COCO as I’d never experienced a professional working environment but from the initial meeting with the other volunteers I knew I’d made the right choice. Everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming; I couldn’t wait to get started. My first challenge was finding the location of the offices, which for a geography student you’d think would be easy, but proved to be more challenging than I first thought. After a bit of help from a builder working in the offices next door I was eventually ready to start my first day.
My initial task was to research the work of COCO by looking through the website and to make any suggestions for improvements to both the webpage and social media sites. I was inspired by COCO’s motto that “all children regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or economic circumstances should have the opportunity to receive an education”. Initiatives such as “the schools for life project” go a long way to meeting this motto and help to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in 13 communities within Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Latest projects such as The Hoja Teacher training and learning centre move beyond primary and secondary education to provide further education as well as teacher training. This project will improve the standard of teaching within southern Tanzania a region lacking in trained teachers and could go on to benefit as many as 12,000 children.
COCO has recently risen over £4 million pounds, which for a relatively small charity to have had such a huge impact is an amazing achievement. As part of my volunteer role I hope to delve deeper into all the development projects here at COCO and through further blogs and help to promote the incredible work they do. I hope to gain as many professional workplace skills as I can out of this exciting opportunity, while at the same time helping a charity which makes a big difference to so many people’s lives.