For Student Volunteering Week 2016, Jess, Schools Plus Coordinator for Southampton Hub and Student Volunteer of the Year 2016 longlisted nominee, shares what social action means to her and how it has shaped her university experience.
As cliché as it may sound, I volunteer because I personally feel I ought to utilise the opportunities and advantages I have had to better the lives of others. For me, there is no better way of giving back to my community than to volunteer (and it’s also so much fun!).
In my second year of university I made a spur of the moment decision to join the Southampton Hub committee as the Schools Plus coordinator. I have always enjoyed volunteering and the opportunity it gives me to meet new people from an array of backgrounds. Schools Plus has been a step up in responsibility and has proved to be a more challenging role than I had anticipated! Despite these challenges, it has been the most rewarding position I have taken. I have been able to meet wonderful, proactive students; work with schools, libraries and other organisations in my local community; and, most importantly, orchestrate the tutoring of educationally disadvantaged students.
One of the wonderful things about Schools Plus is how easy it is to monitor the impact that tutors have in schools. We get excellent feedback from pupils and teachers and we can review the improvement in pupils’ grades through the course of the project. One of my favourite things is seeing volunteers truly engaged and inspired when working with the pupils from local schools. With university students in the best position to encourage, inspire and engage young people, the importance of the project and the potential impact it can have for so many children is evident. It is wonderful to see how the student volunteers who give their time to the project become progressively more enthusiastic and passionate throughout the year, as they see their impact.
Development of education is a cause particularly close to my heart – one that has been enhanced by volunteering with Student Hubs. Nelson Mandela once said: “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. I completely agree with this statement. I am passionate about conservation and tackling environmental issues but I know that the barriers to education prevent the development of communities and tackling greater issues in the world. For this reason, I believe efforts should be made to tackle these barriers that children and young people face – whether that is a language barrier, access, protection or any other obstacle.
Volunteering with Student Hubs has equipped me with invaluable skills that will help me after university. If you’re hesistant about volunteering, I say give it a try. At the very least, it will give you a great feeling at the end of the week and some amazing skills and experience for your CV. I will be graduating this July and volunteering with Student Hubs has really motivated me to develop a career in third sector. Hopefully I will begin working with an education, international development or conservation organisation later this year.
Join Jess and share your social action experiences with us using #IVolunteerBecause on Facebook and Twitter. Let us know what you’re up to this week using #SVW2016, too! You can find activities taking place near you here and through your local Hub.