Five reasons why I volunteer

Last week was National Volunteer week, a celebration of the fantastic contribution made by volunteers across the country.  ICE West Midlands relies on our band of dedicated volunteers to help us provide inspiring activities for our education and inspiration programme.

Jo Haskins, Education & Inspiration Group Chair
Jo Haskins, Education & Inspiration Group Chair
Ambassador, John Brownlie at Chase Terrace Technology College engineering fair on 25 May
Ambassador, John Brownlie at Chase Terrace Technology College engineering fair on 25 May

So far, in 2016 West Midlands volunteers have helped to deliver the National Big Bang at the NEC in March. They will also be helping out at the regional Big Bang on 23 June - running the popular octagons build-it-up competition; the wind turbine activity; and new Minecraft construction challenge.

Other activities in the pipeline are, a Mott MacDonald bridge to schools activity at Woodside Primary in Oswestry from 14th-16th June with over 100 year 5 students.

We are also planning a Tomorrows' Engineers activity day with Prospects and the Engineering Council on the 8th November, inviting 16 companies and 150 students to take part in workshops and various engineering activities.

We currently have over 200 Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassadors registered with the ICE in the region, with 18 new STEM ambassadors having signed up since the beginning of the year.

During 2016 volunteers have helped to deliver over 16 events across the region, including a bridge to schools activity at KESH Academy; an Engineering Fair at Chase Technology College in Staffordshire, and various careers events.

Jo, who has chaired the ICE West Midlands Education and Inspiration group since 2015 shares below five reasons why she volunteers.

1. I was lucky and it is my turn to give back

I went to a school where we had lots of opportunities, with teachers giving up their time to run after school activities for us. When I needed extra motivation to write my UCAS application I had a teacher make sure I did actually apply to university. When I needed a tutor my parents were able to afford one. Not every student has these opportunities and thus I feel it is my duty to give the next generation the luck I had.

2. Many people become engineers because they knew one

I was 17 years old and my careers teacher sent me on a week-long Women in Science and Engineering residential course. As a consequence, I studied engineering. I happened to apply for, and get a placement year at Thames Water and, as a consequence, I ended up working for Atkins upon graduation. We can't rely on our future colleagues becoming part of the industry by chance, we need to provide positive role models and experiences for all students.

3. If I had children I would want people to volunteer to work with them

I would like engineers to go into my children's primary and secondary school to give school talks, run workshops and/or mentor them. If I were a parent I would be doing this at my children's school or after school club to be further involved.

4. I am a better employee because I volunteer

I have been able to improve various skills as a consequence of my volunteering. I am a better presenter due to giving school assemblies. I am more confident when I run workshops because keeping the attention of 15 of my peers is nothing, in comparison to doing so with 45 students.

5. I enjoy it

There are many different types of volunteering activities with students and I get a different type of enjoyment out of each of them. I am constantly amazed by how impressive, interested and motivated students are. I would have never thought I would find working with students energising but I do, and I come home happier after volunteering.

If you share Jo's passion for enthusing young people, or already a registered STEM ambassador and would like be involved in ICE WM activities, please get in touch with Rebecca Martin (

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