Design a site like this with
Get started

Mariana Vieira da Rocha

Training Facilitator || SPEAK London Co-Founder and Director || UK Student Volunteering Network Chair || University of West London Volunteering and Civic Engagement Manager

About Mariana

I am a bubbly happy person, with an obsession for good coffee and the ability to watch videos of puppies and pandas on loop for an extensive amount of time.

Now that that’s out of the way….

I am originally from Portugal and started volunteering when I was 7 years old. I have not stopped since.

I love to help people connect (with others and themselves) and support them in their own crazy adventures by creating a space where they feel connected and able to have “Aha! moments!”

I love my job at the University of West London where I get to teach and work with fantastic groups of students but also with incredibly inspiring community organisations.

I spend my free time volunteering for a variety of organisations and travelling as much as I can. I fully believe that volunteering and travelling are some of the best ways that we have of investing in our personal and professional growth.


I moved to the UK ten years ago and have been working in Volunteering and Higher Education for the past 9 years. Recently established as a freelancer, my focus is in helping people connect to opportunities they feel passionate about and providing consultancy and training facilitation in a range of topics.

I’m one of the Co-Founders and Directors at SPEAK London, a C.I.C that connects migrants, refugees and locals living in the same city through a programme of language and culture exchange events and the Volunteering and Civic Engagement Manager at the University of West London. In my spare time I volunteer for the UK Student Volunteering Network as their national Chair and I’m also a Project Coordinator at .

And since I can’t stay still, I’m now embarking in my new pirate adventure that I’ve called Valued Point. This project is all about facilitating learning, helping people connect (with others and themselves) and creating a space where they feel connected and able to have “Aha! moments!”

Career Highlights:

2022 – National Volunteer Management Conference, Volunteer Ireland // Masterclass “Once upon a time, there was a young person” – Presenter

2022 – Join the EngageJournal “Voices” Team as Co-Editor

2021 – AVM Annual Conference // What have student Volunteers ever done for us? Bursting the myths and stereotypes- Presenter

2021 – Volunteer Ireland training session // Are we there yet? Buckle up and enjoy the ride – Facilitator

2021 – UK SVN National conference // Is hybrid here to stay? Where are we heading? – Facilitator

2021 – SU21 Digital conference // Irish and UK Volunteering: the similarities and differences – Speaker

2021 – National Volunteer Management Conference, Volunteer Ireland // Masterclass “Volunteering – Making it Stick” – Presenter

2020 – Volunteer Ireland // Charity Trustees Week Q&A – Speaker

2020 – Erasmus Student Network UK // Webinar on employability – Speaker

2020 – SPEAK London // How Sustainable Migration can lead us towards a Better Post-COVID world (Opportunities and Challenges of Global Mobility) – Speaker

2020 – Student Volunteering Network Annual Conference // “Let’s Get Online: Facilitating Online Sessions” – Facilitator / trainer

2019 – Association of Volunteer Managers UK // “Generation change – how student volunteers can transform your work” – Facilitator

2018 – Student Volunteering Network Annual Conference // “All that SAS (Skills Analysis sessions” – Workshop Facilitator

2017 – Student Volunteering Network Annual Conference // “Volunteering and it’s role in TEF” – Session Facilitator

Life Highlights:

2022 – About to start 6 month traveling adventure! (20th April 2022)

2021 – I’m the proud owner of 2 house plants that have survived for over 3 years.

2020 – Spent 2 months working from Portugal due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Never waste a crisis!)

2019/20 – Spent a month in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

2018/19 – Spent a month in Australia. They didn’t accept my working holiday visa, so I went on holiday (only) instead)

2018 – Spent 2 weeks exploring Bulgaria and Romania and met 2 of the most fantastic women in my life, Marije (The Netherlands) and Nat (USA). We are now the “Transatlantic sisterhood”

2018 – Spent a week and a half doing a road trip on Ireland and it still stands as one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.

2017/18 – Spent a month in New Zealand after waiting 15 years to do this trip. It’s still my favourite place on earth and the place I want to retire to.

2016 – Spent 2 and a half weeks exploring some amazing places in Europe and learnt a fair bit about the meaning of being brave.

2016 – My first solo trip (Budapest) that got me travelling on my own until today. Life changing.