Micro volunteering allows me to help women on the other side of the world

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Ellie Hutchinson, 35, talks about her new role as an e-mentor for Women’s Worldwide Web

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1st August 2017 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

I have worked for Shelter for the past two years, and am a director of the Empower Project, which has been running for just over a year.

We have been working with communities to help address violence and women against women, with a focus on online abuse and technology.

I’ve been working on violence against women for the past 10 years, and that was how I got involved with Women’s Worldwide Web. I did my degree in international development studies, and hence always had an interest in the developing world. 

I wanted to see how I could give some skills back and have dialogue with women in the developing world. I was thinking about how I could support people, and what I could do to help them. Because of my ICT skills, I thought this was a good role for me. With working, being a mum, and life in general, I just wanted to do something which was flexible and that I could do a couple of hours at a time.

The e-mentoring is centred on micro-volunteering and skills matching with women's projects in developing countries. I've just finished my first assignment developing a module on confidence and well-being for Kenyan girls on an ICT course.

A lot of it was focused on thinking about what people do that can make them feel good, and how skills tie in with this. For example, if you enjoy cooking you tend to be able to budget and plan. Or if you enjoy socialising, then you should be good at meeting people and talking to them.

The charity will come back to me with feedback on what I’ve done and with future projects. They have suggested a couple that we could start, and I am looking forward to working on some interesting issues.

I am a massive fan of social media. In this project, we have a charity who are based in France, supporting girls in Kenya, and now an e-mentor in Edinburgh – it’s amazing. We are at a point where we still have the ability to shape the internet as a community, how safe it is and how people use it. This programme is all about using the internet positively and helping to give IT skills to women.

The role is really flexible, and that’s what made me want to do it. I don’t have a great deal of time, but I can work on it whenever really. Sometimes I do it on my phone, when on my lunch break and when I am at home.

Anyone who has professional skills that they want to share with people is suitable to become an e-mentor. It allows you to support people on the other side of the world and help them to be able to support themselves. I would recommend it to anyone in the sector who wants to volunteer, but doesn’t think they have a great deal of time to dedicate.

For more information on becoming an e-mentor, visit the Women's Worldwide Web site.

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3rd August 2017 by Jayne Cravens

This is a GREAT example of virtual volunteering, rather than microvolunteering -which is, indeed, a part of VV, but micro volunteering takes just a few seconds or minutes a week. Creating a module on confidence and well-being for Kenyan girls and engaging in e-mentoring is MUCH more than that! Congrats on your experience. Virtual Volunteering, including microvolunteering, is a practice that's more than 35 years old, and become an established practice all over the world. Check out the Virtual Volunteeing Wiki for more info: https://virtualvolunteering.wikispaces.com