Jaldeep Katwala: getting a buzz from volunteering

“I get a buzz out of volunteering because I know that it’s going to make a difference”.


Earlier this year Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) was very fortunate to benefit from the time, skills and expertise of a special volunteer – Jaldeep Katwala.

Jaldeep delivered several media training sessions to members of our Sight Loss Councils – groups of blind and partially sighted people who work to drive positive change and improve the lives of people with vision impairment in their local areas.

The training sessions focussed on communicating effectively with the media and helping members express their stories and the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people to a wider audience. Jaldeep delivered the training over three separate sessions via Zoom.

But it wasn’t just those he was training who benefited from his volunteering. Jaldeep explained how he gained a lot from the experience too. We caught up with Jaldeep to find out more.


A background in journalism

Jaldeep Katwala head and shoulders photoJaldeep is a media professional with 30 years’ of experience working as a journalist, trainer, and media development manager. His work has taken him around the world from Serbia to South East Asia.

Jaldeep’s career has been guided by a motivation to challenge himself and make a positive impact. He said: “The point is to constantly learn as much as you can and give as much as you can”.

This attitude is illustrated by the types of roles and organisations he has worked in; managing a media development programme in Nigeria for an international charity, setting up a network of journalism training organisations across South East Asia, running a media development programme for the state broadcaster in Papa New Guinea and working for the United Nations in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


He explained: “There have been points in my life where I’ve taken a pay-cut just because I wanted to learn more. It’s always worked out in the end”.


Becoming a volunteer

Jaldeep was looking for something new to do, so decided to give volunteering a try. He said: “When I saw TPT’s advert on the Media Trust website looking for volunteers, I thought wow, this would be interesting”.


Will I be able to do this?

Even with three decades’ of experience, Jaldeep was still a little nervous about taking the plunge and volunteering, especially as he had no prior experience of training people with vision impairment (VI). He said: “My big worry was whether I would be engaging and maintain their interest.”

Despite these concerns he decided to go for it. Prior to the training sessions, Jaldeep had some vision awareness training. This highlighted the formats and content that would work well for our blind and partially sighted sight loss council members to access and engage with the training material. This process was refined as the sessions progressed.

The training was a big success with brilliant feedback from those who took part. One of the participants commented: “It improved my confidence in dealing with the media. It was great to be able to get the benefit of a tutor who was so experienced”.

But it wasn’t just the members who benefited from the experience.


Mutual benefit

At the time of the training sessions Jaldeep was also job-hunting, having just returned to the UK. Volunteering helped him to stay positive and not feel disheartened if he was unsuccessful in securing a particular job he had applied for. He said: “It keeps your spirits up when you’re looking for work as it makes you feel valued.”

Since adding his volunteering work to his CV he has noticed a definite improvement in the number of job interviews he has secured. He explained:

“It allows potential employers to see that you’re still engaged and want to do something, even though you’re not being paid to do it.”

But not only is volunteering beneficial in terms of improving employment prospects it also has a positive effect on how the volunteer feels about themselves, Jaldeep commented: “It gives you confidence, makes you feel valued and gives you self-esteem. It has also given me more confidence to work with people who have disabilities.

“I’m grateful to organisations like TPT for giving me the chance to volunteer. I feel like it’s making a contribution not just for the organisation, but for me as well”.


Everybody wins

Jaldeep’s story paints a great picture of why volunteering is so impactful and benefits everyone involved.

Thomas Pocklington Trust gained immeasurably from Jaldeep’s contribution. Rachel Wilkinson, Head of Engagement and Volunteering, said: “We’ve benefitted not just from his expertise but also his 30 years’ of training and experience in working and teaching in the media. The sessions were a massive success and the SLC members all commented on how valuable they found it. We are so grateful to Jaldeep for his time and commitment to help us.

“Volunteering means that charitable organisations like TPT can focus their limited budgets on other areas that benefit those they are there to serve. But the really exciting thing about volunteering is the impact it has on the volunteer.

“Whether that is the material benefits of having additional compelling work experience on a CV or the positive effect it has on self-esteem, confidence and the feeling of making a difference.

“Jaldeep has expressed that he would like to run more training sessions with TPT and we are really excited and looking forward to working with him again.”

When asked what advice he had for anyone thinking about volunteering, he said simply: “Go for it! I get a buzz out of volunteering because I know that it’s going to make a difference.”


If you’re inspired by Jaldeep’s story, why not get in touch with our volunteering team to find out how you can get involved.

Email: Volunteering@pocklington.org.uk

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