Second year HND Photography student, Mel Harper was quick to answer a call from Bradford Council’s Youth Service to support vtalentyear, a 44 week volunteering scheme for 16 to 25 year olds. They were holding a prestigious graduation event for this year’s volunteers at the Dubrovnik Hotel on 3rd March and wanted good quality photographs to mark the occasion for the volunteers and to promote the scheme.
We had recommended Mel due to her affinity for volunteering and her strong events coverage experience. Mel is basing her major project this year on volunteers and their motivations.
Mel explained, “I have been busy working with lots of different volunteering projects and so this fit in perfectly with my interests. The potential for this subject is so vast that I plan to extend my research next year by basing my dissertation on following one organisation. This area is very topical now with David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society.
The evening was a lovely experience for me as a photographer. It was wonderful to meet all the volunteers and hear how valuable this year has been for them as well as the areas they have worked in. The Lord and Lady Mayoress, who presented the certificates, are heavily involved in volunteering, so when their term of office finishes at the end of May I will be able do some work with their projects. I also made useful contacts with people from the organisations represented.
My experience is that people often volunteer for largely selfish reasons; maybe to improve their skills or take a gap year; but once they get involved, the giving to other people becomes addictive. That glow, that rush of doing good things for other people gives you much more joy than doing something to profit yourself.”
Mel's course Tutor, acclaimed photographer Trevor Griffiths, said “Mel demonstrates the value of our equality and diversity policy which encourages all students to fulfil their promise. Although she had taken photographs as a hobby, she was new to photography when she came back into education as a mature student. Mel had a willingness to learn and she was chosen to represent College as one of our student photographers recording the Commonwealth Games Fashion show last autumn 2010. While in India Mel witnessed poverty on the streets and as a mother this had a profound impact on her. She has used this and her own life experience to embrace David Cameron’s idea of the Big Society and support local charities.”
You can see a small selection of Mel's photographs from her passage to India which show the colours and contrasts which impressed her so much: