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Volunteer Focus: Lizzie

Published 30 Jun 2016

EMMS International is so grateful for the work of our volunteers. Here, we have chat with our intern Lizzie and her experience of volunteering with EMMS International. 

Name and role

Lizzie McAdam, 175th Anniversary Intern

When did you start volunteering?

January 2016

How did you get involved with EMMS?

I had just graduated from my Masters degree from Durham earlier in January and moved back home to Edinburgh. I was looking for a role or position that would let me get a bit of work experience whilst still allowing me time for other family and work commitments and saw an advert for the anniversary intern position and thought it just fit the bill perfectly!

Why did you decide to volunteer at EMMS?

The work that EMMS International does is so important. Having previously volunteered in Malawi for several months a few years ago, I quickly felt a connection to what the projects are trying to achieve which was only reinforced the more I learnt about them. Volunteering at EMMS International seemed a great way to try and do my own wee bit to help whilst learning much more about event management and working in the charitable sector.

What have you been involved with/worked on?

So far I have spent a lot of time delving into the EMMS archives – 175 years is a long time and there is simply an overwhelming amount of stories and memorabilia about the work that people did for EMMS over the years. It has been truly humbling to learn about the hardships and devotion of some of the early missionaries and students of EMMS across the decades. This research let me draw up a timeline which accompanied our photographic exhibition, Health&Hope, which I also helped to prepare and display. We launched the exhibition with a wonderful evening event at the Edinburgh City Chambers back in April.

At the moment I’m involved in the build-up for our month-long August exhibition in the Edinburgh Central Library – it’s going to be much more extensive and include fascinating excerpts from our archives as well as the Health&Hope photographs. There are also a few other events later on in the year which we’re starting to get prepared for, so it is all systems go!

What have you enjoyed?

I have adored getting to learn a different part of the history of Edinburgh. Suddenly seeing buildings I have known all my life in an entirely different way, such as the Magdelene Chapel and Aus Bar in the Cowgate, has been grounding yet refreshing at the same time. The thrill of an event going well has also been extremely rewarding as has been getting to know the other EMMS staff and volunteers!

How has volunteering with EMMS impacted you?

I have a much greater appreciation for the difference small acts can make and how simple things we can take for granted – often without meaning to – can literally change lives for the better. This is a narrative which hasn’t changed in all the years that EMMS has existed. It is awe-inspiring to think that EMMS has been making those differences all over the world for 175 years and continues to share health and hope where it is needed most.

What would you say to potential future volunteers?

If you can volunteer, do! Come in with an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in and you will get such a rewarding experience. Everyone at EMMS is lovely and always willing to help – even if it is just figuring out how to switch on the printer (which I personally struggle with). Plus there regularly seems to be a good excuse for a cake break in the office!

If you would like to volunteer with EMMS, please check our Volunteers page for specific intern opportunities, or get in touch