3 Resolutions for the New Year

Posted on: 12 January 2016

We shared ‘Our Impact So Far’ on the blog back in December. If you missed it, here are the headlines:

– 862 students volunteering with 227 long-term community projects
– 51 student consultants working on projects for 13 Social Innovation Programme host organisations
– 28 incubated projects
– 30,232 students receiving our local newsletters

As an organisation, we’re always more interested in the story that those numbers can’t tell, such as whether or not student social action really adds value to the work of our community partners, and to what extent our opportunities are helping students to develop their skills.

We’ve dived a little deeper into our Term 1 feedback to draw out three new year’s resolutions based on our findings.

1. Maintain our dual focus on community partners and volunteers

We believe in the importance of building trusting and constructive relationships with partners and volunteers. This is reflected in feedback, with 86% of partners saying that our level of communication and quality of programme facilitation is better than average, and 90% of volunteers saying that the Hub provided adequate guidance, support and resources. It’s not always easy to collect feedback from community partners and volunteers (with 142 responses so far from volunteers, and 22 responses so far from partners, we’ve got a good set of data for now, but it could always be better). We know that feedback rates improve as our relationships with students and community partners improve, so balancing our support and communication between the two groups is essential.

2. For skilled placement programmes, we need to enable participants to better understand the social issues their host organisation is tackling

47% of participants in our Social Innovation Programme (SIP) said they had definitely gained an increased understanding of a social issue or social issues (47% said they had somewhat gained an understanding, and 1% said they had not really gained an understanding). Not a poor result overall, but lower than the same group’s response to whether or not they understood the needs of the organisation during their project, where 94% said they definitely did.

This shows us that participants are being well briefed on their specific consultancy project, but they should be given more opportunities to learn about the broader social issue(s) that their host organisation is tackling. SIP participants add capacity to an organisation behind the scenes, so we should encourage students to observe frontline activities if possible, speak to delivery staff, or read more about the organisation’s background, vision and impact.

3. Continue to find new ways to connect students with individuals and organisations in their local community

91% of our community partners who gave feedback tell us that their organisation has benefitted from engaging students specifically (reasons included students’ unique perspectives and skills thanks to their age and diverse backgrounds, their availability and their enthusiasm), and 99% of students who gave feedback would recommend that programme to a friend.

Youth social action programmes can create a double benefit for both groups; responding to the growing number of community organisations hoping to collaborate with young people and the growing number of students in our network of Hubs looking for meaningful opportunities to develop skills and make a difference. We’re constantly improving and expanding our activities, so who knows what our next programme might be!

Rachel Tait

Rachel is Student Hubs' Volunteer and Incubation Manager, supporting our Hubs to run effective volunteering projects with community impact, as well as co-ordinating Student Volunteering Week in partnership with NUS. She started volunteering when she was 12 years old and continued throughout school and university. When not working, she runs, bakes and mentors young people.

Tags: Impact, Social Action, Third Sector

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