Comment: Volunteering can transform our lives

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As a student from Hong Kong I’ve spent four years in Scotland and started volunteering in 2012 for the Edinburgh Peace Initiative (EPI).

I love being a volunteer and not just because it gave me one of the proudest moments of my life, when I received a special award from Volunteer Centre Edinburgh.

Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) made me think about what made me get involved. I had volunteered at school and at Edinburgh Napier University before, and I have since realised that volunteers can make a real, positive difference, especially in a dynamic, multicultural community such as Edinburgh.

Volunteers may have different backgrounds, but having the same goal brings us together. EPI has 40 volunteers from 20 countries, working to promote peace-building. With EPI I helped organise a 24-hour festival to promote our mission. The festival involved schoolchildren, students and the general public and greatly increased awareness of what we all can do together to make the world a better place.

To me, a volunteer is so much more than free labour. Volunteers are very valuable for organisations. They can build belief in an organisation and promote shared values; in the third sector, they are the life blood of many groups.

I have also learnt a lot about the power of volunteering through taking on a communications internship at leading Scottish charity Children 1st which provides more than 50 services across Scotland to support vulnerable children, young people and their families. It relies on trained volunteers to support its important work. Some of those involved have been volunteering for Children 1st for more than 20 years.

Volunteers do not ask for rewards but we do look for results. We act to influence. To make a positive difference. To stand up and do our bit to change things for the better. Though awards and recognition are obviously always nice, by far the biggest satisfaction I get from volunteering is knowing that I’m using my time to try to make a positive difference.

• Ka Wing Wong is the recipient of Volunteer Centre Edinburgh’s “Outstanding contribution from a young volunteer” award.