Every month, we celebrate a colleague who’s done great things by volunteering. September’s award went to Deb Carnevali, Senior Designer at Octopus Investments. She volunteered her creative talents for Barefeet Theatre’s annual festival in Zambia. Deb gets £500 to donate to a charity close to her heart.
Have you always been into volunteering?
I’ve always enjoyed using my graphic design skills to give back, but working at Octopus has given me the chance to do even more.
Being an introvert, I tend to wait for volunteering opportunities to pop up, rather than look for them myself. So far, I’ve refreshed the design of the Octopus Giving brand, and created promotional material for their events. I’ve also helped some of the charities supported by Octopus Giving.
Why were you awarded Volunteer of the Month for September?
Barefeet Theatre is a charity in Zambia that helps vulnerable children express themselves through art and performance. I designed a visual identity and promotional materials for their annual festival.
This year’s theme was ‘Infinity’. It was a very open brief, so I could be as creative as I liked. I based my ideas on the infinity symbol, but I gave it a fresh approach by developing it to include themes like ‘looking forward’, ‘endless opportunities’ and ‘connecting with communities’.
I fine-tuned my ideas into one final design. Then I created posters, t-shirts and digital assets like social media banners for Facebook.
How did you hear about Barefeet Theatre? What drew you towards them?
I heard about Barefeet Theatre through my colleague, Claire Cunningham, who spent a month volunteering for them with The International Exchange.
I was impressed by how Barefeet Theatre uses creativity to inspire brighter futures for young people. I felt a close connection to their work. So when they asked the marketing team here at Octopus for design help, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
Was it a challenging project?
The project itself was wonderful, but sometimes it was tricky working across countries and timezones. I couldn’t communicate face-to-face with the Barefeet team, and I had a few early morning starts trying to exchange files and meet deadlines. On one occasion, we were emailing at 6am to get the t-shirts printed on time.
Having Claire for support was a big help, because she was closely involved with the festival and had direct links to the Barefeet team.
Were you surprised to win Volunteer of the Month?
Absolutely! I didn’t think I would be considered for the award, let alone win it. It’s nice to know that Octopus will recognise your efforts, no matter which charity you support or how you do it. What matters is that you’ve helped.
Was there a memorable moment from your volunteering?
It was a memorable experience from start to finish. I got great feedback from the Barefeet team, and seeing pictures of the festival was wonderful. It reminded me that my work was just a small part of something really special.
Working with Barefeet has also given me a lot of creative confidence. I’m excited about using my skills to help other charities in a similar way.
Have you decided where your £500 donation will go?
I’d like to make my donation to Barefeet Theatre. It’s a small way of thanking them for everything they do to build better communities. I feel strongly about them, and it’s great to see them using creativity for good. I hope my donation will help them continue their amazing work.
And finally… what’s your message for anyone who hasn’t volunteered before?
Don’t overthink it – just give it a go! My experience with Barefeet Theatre has made we wonder why I didn’t start doing this sooner.
If you’re not sure how to get started, reach out to a colleague. There are lots of people here who are happy to help.