I must admit, when I first heard about the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) I wasn’t entirely sure what it was or what it meant – and even having been part of the group who were interviewed by representatives of the selection panel, I still wasn’t entirely sure. When I found out the Hub was being awarded QAVS a quick glance at their website told me: “The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities.… It is the MBE for volunteer groups.” Sounds good to me!
The Oxford Hub exists because there’s value in connecting voluntary groups of similar and wildly different types across the University, the city, and nationally. As Oxford Hub and across our Ethical Network we represent and work with more students, we’re more effective. The ability to share best practice and training, ensure smooth committee handovers (most of the time), reach more people with our publicity, and socialise with others who share interests, all strengthens the landscape of voluntary work across the University. As well as the direct positive impact our projects (such as Schools Plus) have, I think the award recognises the role the hub has had, and continues to have, in helping to engender a culture where volunteering is an everyday and expected part of the student experience in Oxford, along with essay crises and grumbling about rowing.
Local volunteering is a huge part of what we do, and it’s brilliant to have that recognised, but we also do so much more than that at Oxford Hub: running artistic events, the largest student-run conferences in the UK, supporting a student run food co-op, working with groups researching or volunteering in international development, running Oxford’s student thinktank OxPolicy, and the list goes on.
The website for the award says: “The Award recognises groups whose work has significantly benefited others and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering by such groups”. Oxford Hub receiving this award is a message of congratulations and thanks for all the volunteers, past and present who have volunteered with or through the Oxford Hub. As an organisation we know we’re doing good work, but it’s still nice to have it recognised by QAVS. I like volunteering, and I like it even more when I know it’s effective and sustainable – I hope that receiving the QAVS will persuade even more students to get involved with a part of what the Hub has to offer in the future.