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The value of volunteering

UAL Alumni of Colour Association Committee; Richie Manu (Vice President), Halime Özdemir (Head of Communications) and Linett Kamala (President)
Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
27 May 2020

In the UK, the first week of June is National Volunteers Week, and we wanted to let you know some of the reasons why volunteering is so important, and the value it can add to your work.

We recently spoke to 2 of our volunteers, Linett Kamala and Richie Manu, the President and Vice President of the UAL Alumni of Colour Association (AoCA), respectively, about why they volunteer.

UAL Alumni of Colour Association Committee; Richie Manu (Vice President), Halime Özdemir (Head of Communications) and Linett Kamala (President)


For both Richie and Linett, the key thing about volunteering is that it has to be rewarding.

Having built an established career in creative personal, professional and business development, Richie realised that he wanted to share his expertise. So he emailed different art colleges to offer his time for free, working with students. He found that when the people he worked with started getting real opportunities it was incredibly rewarding to see.

“It never felt like work,” he says, “it has to be rewarding for the volunteer too, as soon as it becomes a chore it no longer works”.

Linett agrees, adding that volunteering is also an opportunity to meet amazing people; she says that “providing the space for people who have the common link of being graduates of UAL, to develop their connections is a really rewarding experience”.

Inspire change

Another benefit of volunteering is that you can inspire real change.

The reason Linett and Richie started the AoCA was to raise the visibility of people of colour in the creative industries and to celebrate their work and achievements. Linett points out that volunteering “puts ideas into action. If things aren’t happening as you thought they would, volunteering for a cause you believe in can be a way to address that”.

It can also be a great way to hear other people’s stories and be inspired to make changes in your own practice. Richie adds that “the most inspiring people are often the ones who have an interesting story, who have fought against the odds to where they are now”.


The final reason Linett and Richie recommend volunteering; the opportunities it can provide.

If you volunteer for one of our Associations, you have the opportunity to host events at UAL.  As Linett highlights, in London particularly, "it’s increasingly hard to find free and available space for creatives to come together, so the chance to use the spaces at UAL for free is even more valuable”.

For Richie, the AoCA has given him the opportunity to meet more people and to open up his network. He says; “it’s rare at events to get as broad an age range as you get at the AoCA events; there are often alumni from the 1970s, up to very recent graduates all sharing their experiences and what they do”.

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