After an accident on a child slide put me in a wheelchair for more than nine years, and meant a change in job, it seemed that selling my skills and knowledge was the practical thing to do in order to remain in employment.
I was self-employed and studying with the Open University towards the certificate in higher mathematics and diploma in physical sciences when I first joined the IOP. But studying by distance learning can be very solitary – and even more so with a disability, in and out of that wheelchair.
I felt I needed to meet other students, attend events, and see what was happening out there in the world of physics. A few clicks into the IOP website one day I learned about the volunteering opportunities on offer.
No sooner I was off the wheelchair, I started volunteering at outreach events, beginning with Physics in the Field at Brighton and at Towersey Festival, back in 2013. It was an exciting and interesting experience where I had the opportunity to meet other undergrads, postgrads, and people with an interest in physics. Other events soon followed.
Volunteering made me feel that I was making use of some physics and reaching out to inquisitive minds about the subject. It’s not really fun to talk physics to oneself – and it’s also a case of use it or lose it!
Volunteering through the IOP has been important for my CV, to demonstrate that I wasn’t remaining stagnant, kept me in the loop with physics, and provided a great opportunity to network and be with likeminded folks – and helped me to get back on my feet figuratively as well as literally.