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The value of volunteering

Written by Eleanor Harvey
Published date 27 May 2020

In the UK the first week of June is National Volunteers Week, and we wanted to let you know some of the reasons why volunteering is so important, and the value it can add to your work.

We recently spoke with two of our volunteers, Linett Kamala and Richie Manu, who are the President and Vice President of the UAL Alumni of Colour Association (AOCA), respectively, about why they volunteer.

UAL Alumni of Colour Association Committee; Richie Manu (Vice President), Halime Özdemir (Head of Communications) and Linett Kamala (President) Caption


For both Richie and Linett, the key thing about volunteering is that it has to be rewarding.

Having built an established career, Richie realised that he wanted to share his expertise with students, and so he emailed different art colleges to offer his time for free. He found that when he saw the people he worked with getting real opportunities, such as job opportunities or work placements, it was incredibly rewarding to see the payoff.

‘It never felt like work’ he says, ‘it has to be rewarding for the volunteer too, as soon as it becomes a chore it no longer works’.

Linett agrees, adding that it’s also an opportunity to meet amazing people; ‘providing the space for people who have the common link of being graduates of UAL, to develop their connections’ is a really rewarding experience.

Inspire change

Another benefit of volunteering is that you can inspire real change.

The reason Linett and Richie started the AOCA was to raise the visibility of people of colour in the creative industries - and to celebrate their work and achievements. Linett points out that volunteering ‘puts ideas into action’ if things aren’t happening as you thought they would, volunteering for a cause you believe in can be a way to address that.

It can also be a great way to hear other people’s stories and be inspired to make changes in your own practice. Richie points out that the most inspiring people are often the ones who have an interesting story, who have fought against the odds to where they are now.


The final reason Linett and Richie recommend volunteering; the opportunities it can provide.

If you volunteer for one of our Association's, you have the opportunity to host events at UAL, and as Linett points out, particularly in London it is increasingly hard to find free and available space for creatives to come together, so the chance to use the spaces at UAL for free is even more valuable.

Richie adds that it has given him the opportunity to meet more people and to open up his network. It is rare at events to get as broad an age range as you get at the AOCA events; there are often alumni from the 1970s, up to very recent graduates all sharing their experiences and what they do.

There are lots of opportunities to volunteer at UAL as an alumnus; from supporting our alumni associations and groups like the AOCA, to offering the use of your space for an event, and mentoring current students. If you’re interested in getting involved email:

Relevant links: