Skilling up for Student Volunteering Week 2016

Posted on: 18 December 2015

Earlier this month, the Student Volunteering Week (SVW) team went on the road to deliver SVW Bootcamps in four cities around the country — London, Birmingham, York, and Bristol. All events were delivered by Student Hubs and the National Union of Students (NUS), with additional help from Voluntary Arts and a fantastic roster of speakers. Still, the real stars of the show were the students — we were absolutely bowled over by the ideas and enthusiasm on show, and now we’re even more excited (if that’s possible) for Student Volunteering Week in February! The following is just a taster of what we got up to.

We listened to speakers from all over the charity sector and beyond

From Simon Blake, Chief Executive of the NUS, to St John Ambulance‘s Richard Salter, all of our guest speakers were incredibly passionate about the potential for students to bring about social change. Each speaker brought something different and exciting to the table, with representatives from the Trussell Trust telling us all about the challenges and opportunities of operating a nationwide network of food banks that helps over a million people yearly. We were also lucky to hear Saf Nazeer from helpfulpeeps talk about the way technology can unlock microvolunteering opportunities.

…then spent some time thinking about how we can change the world.

Not content with simply listening to other people talk about their social action journeys, we reflected on why we volunteer and which issues we really care about. ‘Craftivism’ – the idea of engaging with social issues in creative ways – provided a great way to think about this. Rosie from NUS, ably assisted by field experts from Voluntary Arts, led a crafting session in which we were able to create something cool and talk about volunteering at the same time. Niki, a student who attended the Birmingham Bootcamp, told us that she thought the hands were ‘visually effective and informative’ and ‘a quick and quirky way to inspire’. You don’t have to take her word for it, though – take a look at our craftivist hands and other photos from the Bootcamps.

Student Volunteering Week Bootcamp London

We planned some mind-boggling events…

Our second session saw attendees brainstorm ideas for solving big social problems – from the refugee crisis to mental health stigma – and turn those ideas into concrete, plausible event plans in just over an hour. Far from struggling with the challenge, our Bootcampers threw themselves into the wonderful world of their imaginations, thinking up projects including swap-shops, skillshares, foodbanks, urban farms, and more. Every attendee left their Bootcamp with some solid next steps for putting their ideas into action, so look out for them on a campus near you very soon!

…and learned how to shout about them!

Capping off each day was a crash-course in communications led by Molly and others from Student Hubs. We learned top tips for identifying our audiences and how to optimise messages for maximum impact. After everything else we’d been up to at the Bootcamps, we were all keen to hear more about getting the word of student volunteering out there.


…our SVW 2016 Bootcamps were pretty successful. One attendee called the day ‘fun, vibrant, and engaging’, while another said ‘it was really helpful to meet new people and gain new ideas for what we could do’. We’re already looking forward to the week itself — bring on #SVW2016!

Matt Davies

Matt is the Volunteering Officer at Student Hub, working on Student Volunteering Week 2016 in partnership with the National Union of Students.

Tags: Social Action, Third Sector

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