Rowan’s Story: From Student Voices Volunteer to TPT Apprentice

My name is Rowan and I am the Sight Loss Councils (SLCs) Project Coordinator Apprentice at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT). SLCs are groups of blind and partially sighted volunteers all over England who work on different projects on a local and national scale. I have always been interested in making a difference which is why I was drawn to the role I am doing now.

Prior to starting this role, I was a member of the Student Voices group for around 18 months, starting during the end of my second year of university in 2022. I decided to volunteer because I felt that my experience as a vision impaired (VI) person doing a craft-based degree could be useful to others who are wanting to undertake similar degrees. I have always been passionate about accessible and disability rights and felt that volunteering with TPT would be an excellent way to help make a difference whilst developing my transferable skills to help me in my future career.

I worked on many different projects as a Student Voice and developed lots of different skills. For example, volunteering helped me improve my written and verbal communication skills as well as my confidence. This was done through writing about my experience of graduating as part of the Make Your Graduation an Accessible Day to Remember guide, my blog post about being a VI person doing a craft degree and being part of a short video used at a TPT conference. Being able to work on these projects, with the support of TPT staff, gave me the opportunity to develop these skills in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to anywhere else. I am still using these skills with my current role.

Volunteering at TPT was one of the key reasons I was successful in finding employment after university as not just a visually impaired person, but someone with multiple disabilities. Because I was a TPT volunteer, I was able to apply for my current role internally before the general public. It was really useful to get an email with new employment opportunities at TPT and it was a nice perk to volunteering with them – especially as a recent graduate!

My current role at TPT is to support the Head of Engagement with the coordination of the SLC projects whilst completing an apprenticeship in project management. I am really enjoying myself so far and I honestly don’t feel like I am working, just doing something I enjoy and find interesting! I wouldn’t have known about careers in the sight loss and wider charity sector if it wasn’t for volunteering with TPT; and I probably wouldn’t be doing a job that I enjoy so much.

The recruitment process was easy, and my interview was less daunting as it was like the interview I had to become a Student Voices volunteer. I already knew a few people at TPT from volunteering which meant that I felt a lot less nervous about going to their offices. I was able to use my experiences from volunteering during my interview when answering questions to show that I had the skills for my current role.

Once I have finished my apprenticeship, I would love to continue working in project management within the disability charity sector. I would also like to possibly continue with my education and pursue a master’s degree in social policy or disability studies. I will have to decide closer to the end of my apprenticeship.

Being a Student Voice not only introduced me to a whole career path I didn’t know existed, but it also allowed me to develop the skills I needed and gave me opportunities (my current role!) to begin that career journey. If you’re debating signing up to be a Student Voices volunteer then my advice is to definitely do it! Everyone is so nice and supportive at TPT, the process isn’t daunting at all, and you get the opportunity to meet likeminded people, develop skills and maybe even secure a job like me.

If you are interested in becoming a Young Voices or Student Voices volunteer like Rowan, check out our Become a Student Voices or Young Voices volunteer page!

You may also be interested in…

Student Voices and Young Voices

Find out more about our Student Voices and Young Voices volunteer groups.

Find out more about 'Student Voices and Young Voices'

Employment and Internships

Looking to start or progress in your career? Or are you a business looking to improve the diversity of your workforce? Take a look at our candidate resources and employer champions.

Find out more about 'Employment and Internships'

Student Support Service

Our Student Support Service is here to support blind and partially sighted students aged 11+ to get the most out of their secondary, college and university education.

Find out more about 'Student Support Service'
Back to top