Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Service

Volunteering was one step in a personal learning journey for Elaine Sultana

I started looking for voluntary work in 2009.  I considered lots of options, but when I found a role that involved teaching IT, I knew it was right for me. I’d taught with my mother at Pace’s School of Commerce, a family business set up by my Grandfather and Uncle, which even trained nuns preparing to work at the Vatican!  I missed teaching typing and so the Digital Champion’s role sounded interesting.

That was when I met, Susan Starkie, the Library Officer for learning support.  She is very kind and has a great sense of humour, not to mention lots of patience!

To begin with I helped her run some basic IT skills courses at the branch libraries (Darwen, Livesey and Mill Hill) showing people how to use a mouse and keyboard, word process, surf the internet and post e-mails.  Then, having studied a level 2 course at Bolton Community College, called ‘Learning Support’, which included modules such as ‘Applying for jobs via the Gov UK website’ and ‘Supporting job applicants’, I decided to help run the weekly ‘IT Skills for Jobs’ session, which is held at Blackburn Library each Wednesday. I’ve never regretted it because there are so many different ways in which to give support.

I look forward to Wednesdays.  Whatever else is scheduled for the week, this slot is jealously guarded.  I’m something of a fixture!!

And the experience has also inspired me to develop myself.  I am preparing to attend a PTLLS (Preparing to Teach Lifelong Skills) course in the autumn and train as a teacher.

I recommend volunteering at the library to anyone who enjoys helping people.  I’ve grown through this work and feel very fulfilled and confident.