I am a Senior Lecturer and Volunteer Development Coordinator at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Since 2001, I have taken a core role in co-ordinating the volunteering programme and have been involved in developing the innovative Community Leadership course at Foundation, BA and Masters Level. I am Module Leader and Course Leader for a series of part-time, full-time and blended learning teaching programmes, providing people in the community and students from all over the university with specialist experience and training from Volunteering and Community Action, Mentoring in the Community, Project Development, Practice-Based Research and supporting students in leading independent community research projects. I also lead the UCLan quality assurance processes and procedures for all Community Leadership programmes and CPD qualifications with the Institute of Leadership and Management.
I have developed mentoring projects locally throughout Lancashire and most recently, internationally, with UCLan Students and young people from the Agadir Orphanage Centre in Morocco.
My journey at the university began back in 1996 as a part-time Finance Assistant within Financial Services. I continued to work for the university alongside being in full-time education at college and then at university. After graduating from a degree in BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology in 2001, I commenced my graduate role, leading the DfES Pilot, Millennium Volunteers and then the new Russell Commission Initiative, VInvolved within the UCLan Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership (CVCL). Since then, I play a lead role in the co-ordination of HE Volunteering Projects across UCLan Campuses (local and international) including partner colleges, engaging university students and staff in community action. I have supported the development and delivery of a substantial portfolio of community projects, making it now the largest University volunteering programme in the UK. I have been instrumental in the support of over 13,000 students and young people through volunteering and community action and have an excellent track record of building and sustaining internal and external partnerships. My experience in this area came from my involvement in various volunteering projects throughout my student life and the achievement of the 200 Hour Millennium Volunteer Award of Excellence. I have worked as a Clinical Support Volunteer at the Queens Park Hospital, Mental Health Unit in Blackburn as well as a Witness Service Support Volunteer at the Preston Magistrates Court. In addition to the volunteering, I have received the Mentor of the Year Award for Lancashire in 2001 for empowering disadvantaged young people in secondary schools as part of the National Mentoring Pilot Project.
In 2002, I was invited to meet the Queen at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party for my involvement in volunteering and community projects throughout Preston and East Lancashire. I am highly experienced in volunteer management and support and in delivering community based learning. In 2005, my work with international student volunteers earned UCLan a place in the Times Higher Education Award Finals for Best International Student Experience.
I am currently also part of the Lancashire Education Authority Governing Body for Deepdale Community Primary School and Preston Muslim Girls High School. I am on the Board of Directors for the International Mentoring Association, USA and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
My research in mentoring stems from my purpose and values to make a difference in the lives of others by being my true and authentic self. My faith, family and friends are also very important to me because they have been a big influence in shaping me as an individual. For me it is important to value others and develop positive relations. This will in turn support me in influencing others as a community leader. As quoted from Nelson Mandela (1995) “a leader….is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing all along they are being directed from behind.” This illustrates very effectively how I have come to recognise my position as a community leader.