OakMobile Volunteering

OakMobile Volunteer Maryam Wahid  © Maria Greenshaw

OakMobile Volunteer Maryam Wahid

Maryam Wahid
OakMobile Photographer

Maryam Wahid is a photography volunteer for the OakMobile which is a project to raise the profile of the National Trust amongst diverse communities in Birmingham.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 17 years old and I’ve recently finished my first year of A-levels. I’m from Birmingham and I’m the youngest in my family. I love the countryside and going for walks but I don’t always know where to go. The National Trust gives a good reference for this. I also love nature and animals. One of my A-levels is in photography which is also one of my main interests.

What role do you have within the Trust?
I’m a photography volunteer for the OakMobile events. This involves meeting new people of all ages, from older people to families, and capturing images of them. I also help create more awareness of the National Trust.

Had you heard of the National Trust before you started volunteering?
I hadn’t heard of the National Trust before. I heard about this role from my photography teacher and researched the role by looking at the website, which was really good. I thought the role looked interesting as it was about promoting the properties and the countryside. I’m now keen to visit lots of the National Trust’s places and I keep telling my parents we need to visit! I did visit the Peak District with my family once and I loved it.

How often do you volunteer?
I’ve been volunteering with the OakMobile since the end of June and I help at as many of the events as I’m able to go to.

How do you juggle volunteering with your day-to-day life?
I’m currently on a work experience which is 6 days a week, 10am-7pm. I’m lucky that my boss is fairly flexible so I can get time off to come to the OakMobile events and it helps that they’re at the weekend.

I try to edit and upload my photographs as soon as I can after each event, usually in the evenings, so that the Trust have the images they need from me. It’s sometimes hard to fit this in as soon as I’d like though, especially during Eid which is a busy time for me. I also have chores to do at home which I try to get out of the way when I have time. I keep a diary so I know what I’m supposed to be doing when.

What inspired you to start volunteering?
Knowing the opportunities that I might have at the end of this role. I’d like to start a photography career so this is good experience. I’ve been interacting with people and getting to know what being a photographer will be like. Expanding my skills.

How long have you volunteered for the Trust?
Since the OakMobile project started at the end of June 2013.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
I think it’s important to volunteer because it builds your experience. The actual environment of doing a role is different from just reading the job description. It’s also helped me to build my confidence and I know more about what to expect if I do become a professional photographer. It’s a good way to gain practice and feel more in control of the role.

What benefits do you get from volunteering?
Meeting new people and photography practice. When you’re taking images regularly it makes you better at it.

Have you learnt any new skills through volunteering?
I’ve built my confidence and it’s helped me to feel more positive. I’ve also developed my communications skills with people of all ages, especially listening skills.

What has been your favourite moment since you started volunteering for the Trust?
The launch of the Oakmobile. I liked meeting lots of different people from really diverse backgrounds, as it was in Birmingham city centre. I also got to meet all the people who were working and volunteering with the OakMobile and it was good to be there when it all went live.

What is your favourite part about the work that you do?
Taking pictures and interacting with people of all ages. Not only this but the ability to be multilingual I can reach people who aren’t able to speak English. I like helping families to enjoy themselves and to find out more about the National Trust.

Has volunteering changed your opinion about the National Trust in any way?
Yes, definitely. I’ve learnt a lot about the National Trust and the properties and countryside. I’ve found out that it’s not just for older people, but also for younger people. I want to become a member in the future. It’s a fun family organisation.

Any other anecdotes you would like to share:
Volunteering with the OakMobile project has been a good opportunity for me and the same for the events volunteers on the project. There aren’t many photography volunteer roles available – you normally have to ask a professional photographer which is suited to availability.

It’s been a great way to get to know the National Trust and I like telling my families and friends about it. Some of them are impressed or intrigued and want to know more about it.