The 19th year of Student Volunteering Week

Posted on: 28 February 2020

On the 10th February, the Student Hubs network were getting ready for one of their biggest weeks of the year – Student Volunteering Week.

SVW is a unique week-long opportunity where the whole of the country can get involved in showcasing and delivering opportunities that engage students and the community. In 2018 students and staff from over 60 Higher and Further Education Institutions led over 300 events. Getting involved offers a great chance for students to develop their skills while forming key social action partnerships in local communities.

The week is coordinated by the Student Volunteering Network who said:

“2020 is the 19th year of Student Volunteering Week in the UK. Student volunteering and social action in the UK have a long history, from university settlements and missions in the nineteenth century to work camps for the unemployed in the interwar period to CND protesting and Student Community Action after the Second World War and throughout the later part of the 20th Century. Students are often at the forefront of promoting different social issues and interests, like the sustainability agenda and social entrepreneurship. If you want to brush up on student volunteering history properly, you can watch this video or check out this book dedicated to the topic by our friend Georgina Brewis.”

To showcase the amazing social action that happened this year, we have collated the highlights from each Hub across the network.

Southampton Hub

SVW at Southampton Hub was a mix of events, youth work training and one-off volunteering opportunities. One highlight was supporting local businesses with our event ‘Sort and Support’ at October Books. Volunteers were given piles of old records, such as meeting minutes, shop notebooks, incident books, newspaper clippings etc about the shop and sorted through them into piles. It was fantastic to gain a history of the shop and engage a high number of volunteers in our community partnership. Another highlight was empowering student voice with the launch of our Student Youth Board in the city. This was an opportunity for students in the city to tell Southampton Hub and Southampton City Council about the issues they were facing and/or passionate about. Issues were: the cities Green Charter, litter, recycling and food waste, safety and crime, student housing and student rights. 

In addition to these events, Southampton Hubs Biocycle coordinator Jack William cycled 210km from Southampton to Cardiff to raise money for student-led social action in Southampton. We would like to say a massive well done to Jack. We are extremely grateful for his commitment to Southampton Hub.

Bristol Hub

Bristol Hub had the exciting opportunity to collaborate on Student Volunteering Week with the Bristol Student Union Volunteering Team and the university’s Careers Service. The theme for the week was the five ways to wellbeing; give, keep learning, be active, connect and take notice. Each day had a theme which encouraged students to take part in volunteering to benefit their wellbeing. 

As well as a social media campaign, Bristol Hub supported three events across the week. On Tuesday, to give students a way to ‘keep learning’, our student committee organised a Dance-athon raising money for Bristol Mind. Volunteers from Modern Jive and Salsa societies taught participants some moves and they all kept going for a huge 5 hours! To create a space for students to ‘connect’ on Thursday, Sophie represented Bristol Hub at the Great Big Charity Mingle. An event which saw students and charities networking in an informal setting. Finally, to finish off the week, Friday’s volunteers were invited to ‘take notice’ of their surroundings at a Spring Clean in Victoria Park. Six students helped with some much needed gardening and painting at the beautiful community space. 

We hope that everyone who got involved had a great week and encourage all readers to engage with the five ways to wellbeing beyond student volunteering week. 

Cambridge Hub

Cambridge Hub student committee helped to organise the ‘Work to change the world’ event during SVW. Charities and social enterprises came together to celebrate opportunities that offer rewards beyond profit, personal fulfilment and develop cultural awareness. We were able to talk about our programmes and projects that offer students an insight into life outside of the ‘university bubble’ and how they can volunteer in their local community. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to our committee for the commitment they have made to Cambridge Hub this year. In particular, our Chair Melissa, who is an incredibly focused and driven individual, volunteering for us but also in a number of other capacities. Melissa always finds the time to fit in something extra and last week managed to pull off a super successful bake sale at the drop of a hat! 

Winchester Hub

To help raise awareness and tackle social isolation in the older community, Winchester Hub’s annual Link Ages Tea Party occurred on the Wednesday of SVW. We hosted 18 older community members at the University with our 10 volunteers helping serve tea, cakes and partake in a 1960s quiz! One older gentleman summed up the event quite nicely “The event was very well planned and enjoyed by all”. 

The University of Winchester is dedicated to becoming more sustainable and building a green environment for all on campus. Upon request of our students, our committee organised a Hedgehog House building event, the houses will later be put around campus to help encourage natural wildlife in the area. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers that got involved!

Kingston Hub

Kingston Hub hosted our contribution to the annual Student Volunteering Week in the best way we knew how, with ‘student-ledness’ embedded throughout! Our student committee brought together a variety of projects and engagement opportunities for Kingston Students over the week of 17th-21st February (one week after the national celebration, due to our internal reading week).

The student committee worked tirelessly from before the Winter Holiday to identify engaging, impactful and sustainable opportunities with local organisations such as; Kingston Mencap, Princess Alice Hospice, Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare Centre and Compliments Of The House. These opportunities not only made a positive contribution to these impactful charities tackling contemporary societal issues, but they also provided students with the opportunity to build their confidence, engage with the local community and take a break from their studies during an extremely stressful time!

We have received extremely positive feedback on the benefits that these activities have brought to the students wellbeing in particular, with a number of volunteers reflecting on how much they enjoyed the fresh air, giving their attention and energy to an outside focus and doing something meaningful in their local community.

As with every year, we want to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate every individual; volunteer and committee member, who gave their time and energy to create and participate in SVW, and make a positive contribution to our community partners. We can’t wait for next year!

Find out more about SVW. Student Volunteering Week is delivered through a partnership between Student Volunteering Network, Student Hubs and NUS.

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Lydia Green

Lydia is our Bristol Hub Manager - she started her social action journey while studying and has previously worked at Winchester Hub. She worked with our local Hubs to pull this article together!

Tags: Community, Social Action

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