Jacqueline Adedejj is a blogger, podcaster, freelance columnist for mentro.co.uk and the host of The Moth, a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to the art of storytelling. During her time at NTU, Jacqueline has volunteered at a prison in Nottingham to learn more about what it feels like. She said that the experience made her feel both refreshed and excited, as if she were taking on something new for herself rather than just being there out of duty. Below is her quick insight into what it was like working in prison.
What volunteering were you involved in whilst a student at NTU? Was it course related or to help you with a particular career choice?
I took part in a scheme called The Big Book Share that was based at Nottingham Prison. It involved connecting with prisoners, creating parcels filled with books for their children, talking to them on a personal basis and helping them focus on their future. It definitely wasn’t my course related but.. It’s fun to scare myself! In my opinion, if you are not scared, you are not really living.
Aspired to be a television presenter, I wanted to see the world from a prisoner’s perspective. Not from the newspapers ideas or the perspective of the victim. I
Was it scary to be there?
I won’t say it wasn’t scary at times, because it was! You are with people who you know have the mental capacity to kill you. But being there taught me about how the other half live. You hear about prisoners everyday but no one knows how vulnerable they are. I don’t condone anything they have done but from having conversations with them, I can understand why they have the mental capacity to hurt others in a way they did. Often times, it is because they are hurting inside. After all, only hurt people hurt others.
Has your volunteering helped your employability since graduating? If so, in what way?
I think yes!
Especially working in a prison… I shock everyone! Maybe because I’m a female, I don’t know. But people often thought I studied psychology to examine them or something (she laughs). But when I say no, I study journalism, I seem to really confuse them.
Personally, when I do interviews for jobs and talk about working in a prison I seem to instantly get the job. I think maybe because people don’t expect a 21 year old to have done that. And because it isn’t directly related to my career, it is obvious that I did it for a good cause. I have lots of stories about working in the prison, incidents that shouldn’t really have happened but did, oops! People are quite captivated by those things, I guess people are really interested in me knowing I have done that.
What advice would you give students when considering taking part in extra-curricular activities such as volunteering?
I would say, do something that can help the community. Something that can teach you more about not just yourself, but others too. I come from London so for me Nottingham is tiny. However, I was intrigued with how tight-knit everyone is in this little community. I thought it was absolutely brilliant! I learnt so much about people. People make the world go round and truthfully you don’t know who needs you – everyone needs someone.
Do something that gives you the chance to change somebody’s life for the better. Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone that forces you to be stronger, because life is about growing. You have to do things that are outside your norm to be successful.
If you want to read more on Jackie’s time with prison here’s a link to her blog.
To check Jacqueline profile on LinkedIn – click here.
To read more student volunteering stories check them here on our blog.
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