As part of Student Volunteering Week 2017, Volunteer Centre Manchester is welcoming Guest Blogs from people who undertake volunteering and those who manage and support said activity. Today we have a great blog from Christian Sinclair.
Christian is a Manchester-based Designer and Freelance Filmmaker and we asked Christian to share his journey and experiences of volunteering with Venture Arts, an Arts centre based in Hulme, Manchester, that provides creative opportunities for learning disabled artists and participants.
I graduated in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Film & Video. Following this I worked on a few film sets and shot several music videos for bands around the UK. Over the following 2 years I gradually did less and less as I lost interest and passion for the work I was doing. My experiences of ‘the industry’ had left me feeling somewhat jaded and I was at a loss as to what to do. To pay my bills whilst doing this unpaid/low-paid video work I also worked as a supervisor of a city centre pub. Following my graduation I’d found myself transition from an art student who worked in a pub to a guy who worked at a pub whilst doing video work occasionally and not enjoying it.
In 2015, I successfully applied for a place on a MA though couldn’t take it on due to financial constraints. I was now at a new low as my attempt to re-enter the creative world was out of my hands. This was when I decided to find a volunteering opportunity and I came across Venture Arts. They were on my bus route to work so I’d gone passed many times without really knowing much about them, so I did some research and thought it sounded like an interesting organisation.
After meeting with the staff I started doing one afternoon a week as a workshop assistant, providing one to one support with the participants. I was initially apprehensive during sessions, but quickly found myself really enjoying the sessions and building up bonds with the people I worked with. It felt great to see how much they enjoyed being creative and this in turn reminded me why I became interested in art when I was younger. After a few months I began to do a full day every week and the staff encouraged me to utilise my video skills from my degree more in the sessions. This was the first time in a while that I was enjoying using what I’d learnt at university in practice.
Through my volunteering I learned that my interest in arts was on a more grass roots level and I wanted to be able to use arts as a medium for positive community impact. In 2016 I applied for an MA again, this time with postgraduate loans becoming available so I wouldn’t have the financial issues I’d had the year previous. I was successful in getting a place on MA Graphic Design & Art Direction at the Manchester School of Art, with my volunteering impressing the interviewer alongside my portfolio.
I’m now researching social design and ways in which the arts can benefit communities. This has all stemmed from what I learned during my time at Venture Arts as well as it
rebuilding my confidence after becoming disillusioned with graduate life.
I’d highly recommend volunteering to anyone!