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Queen’s student volunteer: ‘I’m baking with disadvantaged children over Zoom’
Law student and homework club volunteer, Chloe Buckley continues to help Northern Irish children from her home in Dubai.
As a former head girl and scout, Chloe Buckley has grown up volunteering, so she when she came to Queen’s from Solihull in England via her family home in Dubai, she wanted to continue to give back.
“I knew I wanted to get involved in volunteering when I started University,” says Chloe. “I began volunteering with the Aspire Homework Club this year. The initiative offers a fantastic opportunity to volunteer in the local community, in a location which is convenient to you.”
Chloe’s normal volunteering role involves visiting children affected by socio-economic disadvantage and helping them with schoolwork.
“My role normally entails volunteering every Monday night for two hours, during which time I help the children with their homework for the first part of the session and then we normally bake or cook something in the second part of the session. It is really interesting to see the children in two different environments within the same session, you get to know them so much faster and develop a well-rounded understanding of how they learn.”
Adapting to Zoom sessions
With lockdown in place as a result of the global pandemic, Chloe returned home to Dubai but wanted to stay in touch with the children she helps.
“Although I can’t physically sit with them and help them with their schoolwork at the moment, they know that the Aspire group is still there to help. I have recently made quizzes for the children based on their individual interests and this week we will be baking shortbread together over Zoom.”
Knowing how much the group means to the children she helps, inspired Chloe to find a way to continue to help. “I wanted to continue volunteering during this global crisis. There really is no reason not to when we can utilise today’s technology and still check in with the children from the safe confines of our own homes,” she says.
Adding: “The children at Aspire are often attending the group multiple days in a week, and therefore, the group is a huge part of their lives and their daily routine, so I was extremely happy to see that Zoom sessions were being organised in order to continue to interact with the children, despite the current circumstances. I was given the opportunity to continue to volunteer, not only remotely, but from across the globe in my home in Dubai.”
While she has made a huge impact on the lives of the children she helps, they have made just as much of an impact on her.
“The most rewarding aspect is definitely seeing the children’s confidence grow each week, in both their schoolwork, and their life skills through cooking and baking. It’s been so rewarding seeing the positive influence the group has on the lives of the children who attend, even when the only contact is through a computer screen. It is so nice to see who joins on the Zoom calls each week and trying to think of new ideas together of how we can keep boredom at bay during the upcoming days.”
While it may seem like a small sacrifice, Chloe is proud to be doing her part to help during COVID-19.
“The impact this pandemic is having on children is immeasurable in scale, and if me making a quiz every couple of weeks or joining in with baking over Zoom can give them a marginal amount of outside social interaction, something to look forward to, or even cure their boredom for an hour, then I don’t know anyone who would pass on that opportunity.”
Chloe adds, “This experience has obviously not been exactly as I had imagined, but I have actually learnt so much more from having to adapt to the new ‘normal’ we are all becoming accustomed to. I think both personally and professionally, I have displayed resilience and willing, in making the effort to continue to volunteer remotely. I have built on skills developed from previous volunteering experience, in order to nurture my communication skills and have a greater appreciation for the need for individual commitment to helping in the local community.”