NSVA Longlist: The Community Award

Posted on: 14 April 2023

The National Societies & Volunteering Awards recognise the contributions of student volunteers and student-led societies from UK higher and further education institutions. This year Student Hubs is honoured to be hosting the awards in partnership with Organised Fun. 

Since Student Volunteering Week in February we have been watching the nominations come flying in. We received over 340 nominations from 52 different institutions. It’s been a joy to read all the incredible things students have been doing over the past year across the country. Our judging panels start this week, and over the next three weeks, student leaders and sector specialists will be reviewing the top 12 nominations in each category – the longlist – and identifying the shortlist (top 6 nominations), winners and runners up. 

Today we are excited to announce the longlist for each category. We received so many wonderful nominations, it was really hard to pick the longlist to go forward to the judging panels. We want to recognise everyone this year, and hope that even if you didn’t make it through this round, you’ll still join us on 23rd May in Reading for the in-person awards evening

Take a look below to see if you made it! We would have loved to include everyone’s entire nomination but to make it more accessible, key details about each nomination has been lifted from their application. 

The Community Award 

Recognising those individuals, societies, or projects that have had positive, meaningful impact on a wider community. For this award, the community could be the student community in their university or college, or the local, national, or international community.

Education for Choice at UCL.

The project involves providing workshops to local secondary schools to educate young people on abortions, contraception and other decisions surrounding pregnancy. Often in schools, abortion is taught in the context of Religious Education/Studies. Here, it is often debated as an abstract moral issue, rather than a common experience both religious and non-religious people experience. Education for Choice (EfC) addressed this gap in secondary school education by delivering evidence-based workshops (which comply with best practices) that provide information rather than discussion of ethics surrounding abortion. 

The workshops promote key public health objectives such as the prevention of unintended pregnancy and timely access to appropriate abortion. Also, EfC recognises young peoples’ rights to access such information and thus signposts young people to reliable sources of information and confidential services. As the schools are local, the sessions can be tailored to inform students of nearby healthcare services and also other ways they can ascertain help from their community. This project hopes to equip young people with the right evidence-based information, empowering them to make confident informed decisions regarding their own sexual and reproductive health. 

Cultural Welcome Project at University of Essex 

The Cultural Welcome Project (CWP) was co-created by Thomas Williams and Tanyel Mustafa. Two students at the University of Essex who came up with a one-off project for Student Volunteering Week 2022 to set up a stall on campus and interview students, particularly international students, about their understanding about British Slang and Culture. The feedback we got from this one-off event was incredible, talking to over one hundred students and forming the basis of what we like to call, “The Cheat Book”. The CWP Cheat Book is an A6 sized booklet that resembles a passport and acts as a little hack to the English language. The contents of the book contains translations of some of the most common slang phrases, swear words and common Essex Dialect. There are also sections on British foods, weather terms, how the Brits tell the time, recommendations of English TV shows, and signposting to all of the useful things to know about our Essex Student Community,

Imogen Arden Jones at Cams Youth Council. 

Imogen Arden Jones is a medical student at St John’s College Cambridge who has, in the last twelve months, volunteered heavily to support the Cambs Youth Panel. Imogen has been a remarkable gift to the small organisation. She has a wealth of experience helping young people in the North-West and she knows the power that youth movements have to help disadvantaged young people make the very most of their gifts and talents. Imogen’s impact has been diverse. She has helped the organisation to reform the constitution of their group – their sense of purpose and direction – and she has been key to helping them to restructure their decision making processes, methodology, and quite importantly, areas of ownership and personal responsibility. Organisationally Imogen has used her experience in youth volunteering to help the organisation to evolve at a critical time in their development.

Crafts Society at University of York.

Every week, Crafts Society hosts sessions that teach new crafts and encourage members to refine their skills. The society’s focus on inclusivity and accessibility has been a driving force behind its success. They provide a two-room system which curates an environment sensitive to members’ physical and sensory needs. The louder room has music and encourages chatter, while the quiet room caters for introverted and neurodivergent members.

The Crafts Society committee is diverse and features independent and international students. As a women-run organisation, the society takes pride in giving underrepresented backgrounds leadership opportunities, promoting diversity and inclusivity. Their commitment to creating an economically accessible space is admirable, heavily subsidising membership/admission fees and offering free taster events to allow all students to participate in activities.

Discovery Project Coordinators at Discovery SVS at Swansea University. 

The project coordinators have been giving up their time every week since the start of term to recruit and support student volunteers to provide community support. 

Between them they have coordinated activities, events and remote resources supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community including adults with additional needs, children with and without additional needs, refugees and asylum seekers, hospital patients, prisoners and students who may need wellbeing support. This has taken the form of social groups and drop ins in the community, reading schemes and LEGO clubs in schools, care home visits, community garden maintenance, sessions in the local prison and remote support through phone calls, letter exchanges and producing wellbeing resource packs for those feeling anxious or vulnerable about accessing services again post pandemic.

Mentorship Subcommittee at In2MedSchool. 

The 2022/23 Mentorship Subcommittee is made of eight officers, spread across the UK but with one common goal – to support aspiring medical students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their dream. To achieve this, they have recruited, trained and manage a team of 74 volunteer medical students who promote our charity amongst their peers and liaise with local secondary schools to find the pupils who could most benefit from our help. 

At present, In2MedSchool involves over 7,000 people, including volunteer medical students, doctors and 16-18-year-old pupils. The charity keeps growing at a fast rate, in no small part thanks to the Mentorship Subcommittee. With such quick growth, comes a lot of responsibility and time dedicated to supporting volunteers, actioning concerns/feedback and handling safeguarding/wellbeing matters given we work closely with minors. For the first time ever since the charity’s inception, the team has also facilitated face-to-face events, including networking for their team of volunteers which has contributed to a sense of community, also attending over 25 schools to present at career fairs, host Q&As and more.

Clubbing Crew at University of Sheffield. 

Clubbing Crew is a fantastic opportunity where students from the University of Sheffield take adults with learning disabilities from the community to club nights at the Students’ Union. For many of the participants this is their only social interaction, so to be able to provide this is such a privilege for all the volunteers involved. The adults whom are accompanied are incredibly grateful for the help they receive, and for the fun which is had each month! Not only do the participants get taken to club nights, the programme also provides parties, karaoke nights and games nights to ensure everyone is catered for. The project enables friendships to grow, social skills to flourish, and, above all, fun to be had by all! The volunteers adore the project as it is so unique in what it provides and are always telling the leaders about the funny and impactful conversations they have. The participants constantly praise the project, often asking for there to be more events throughout the month, or calling for a chat with the project leaders. This project has totally changed the social scene for adults with learning disabilities – it is growing in size and growing in the opportunities it provides.

Jayden Bookout at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Jayden has engaged in a wide range of projects and initiatives this year, and has even established her own Homeless Project to support people in the neighbouring boroughs that might be experiencing homelessness. As well as this she has personally volunteered with a number of different organisations including the Englefield Green Brownies, and a new community café in Staines called “Talking Tree”. She has also volunteered with organisations further afield, including committing 22 hours with Berkshire Women’s aid where she held the role of Refuge Assistant, working with staff at the centre according to the needs of its clients. She has also participated in the Royal Holloway ESOL project which delivers training sessions for Ukrainian, Syrian and Afghan refugees. In her “spare” time, Jayden has also put her extensive research skills to good use in the last year, participating in Community Research, a stream of volunteering activity that links together students with organisations that require research to be undertaken.

Rosie Waspe at University of Essex.

Rosie has created a project called Poetic Legacies which she has single handedly been running for a year now. She has created a project that allows students to come to a safe place to create poems, express themselves and make friends. Except she decided to do this with a purpose. She contacted the NHS and is currently working with the end-of-life department and every month she creates an anthology of poems made by the volunteers to give to the people in the local hospital. The project continues to grow with interest and it’s really nice to see people coming together for a good cause but to also express themselves creatively and even de-stress a little bit. Every week she comes up with ideas or prompts to help anyone who is new to writing or is just a little bit stuck. Plenty of people have shown interest in this project and they have great ideas on how to grow this project to continue their quest to help students’ mental health and also continue to put a smile on the communities faces. This was lovely because it connected students and the local community with something they all had in common, creativity. Their idea to grow this project is to get more people involved but the main point is to help people’s mental health by giving them a space to express themselves without any form of commitment, pressure to read aloud or follow any prompts if they don’t wish to do so.

Zero Food Waste at UCL.

Zero Food Waste aims to tackle food waste on campus through food redistribution. With support from dozens of enthusiastic volunteers, since October 2022, they have been organising shifts every Wednesday and Friday to deliver unsold food from a total of nine food outlets (café/shop) across the UCL campus to nearby homeless shelters (i.e. St Mungo’s Endsleigh Gardens and Marylebone Project) and a local food bank in the Euston area (i.e. Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society). Although this project has been run by previous batches of students in past years, this year marks the very first year they have started to collect pastries from all cafés on top of packaged food. This had never been done before due to the restrictions and regulations surrounding food safety for the collection of unpackaged food. However, determined to not let such limitations deter them, prior to the launch of this new initiative, they had been working diligently over the summer with the food businesses and community partners to make this possible. Since October 2022, having tracked the numbers for every shift, they have saved more than 2500 food items ranging from sandwiches, wraps, salad bowls, breakfast muffins, yoghurt bowls, pastries and fruits, from being thrown away. The food has instead gone to the homeless community as well as those residents living in the Camden/Euston area hit by the cost-of-living crisis.

Oxford African and Caribbean Society at University of Oxford.

The Oxford African and Caribbean society (ACS) is a student-run, independent society whose committee designs and delivers events pertaining to 250+ current members, as well as prospective students, of African and Caribbean heritage. They have delivered 4 interconnected Access and Outreach initiatives and events this academic year to support over 100+ year 12 and year 13 students of African and Caribbean backgrounds from across the UK with their aspirations to study at Oxford, challenging common misconceptions that Oxford isn’t a place where students of African and Caribbean backgrounds belong, can be themselves, and succeed.

The Committee has created a range of free opportunities for students from African and Caribbean communities across the UK to aspire to apply to and study at a university where underrepresentation has historically created fears about not ‘fitting in’ which often discourages students of African and Caribbean heritage from making Oxbridge applications. The fact that many students participated in multiple events also highlights the sustainable, long term impact that the ACS Committee had on supporting African and Caribbean students with their Oxbridge applications from an early stage.

Refugee Teaching Project at Essex Students’ Union.

The Refugee Teaching Project is an extremely impactful project that brings about a positive change in the local community through its invaluable contribution to the lives of refugees living in Colchester. In collaboration with Essex Integration and their teachers, volunteers provide English lessons, either in person in groups, or one-to-one, as well as online lessons. Given that the majority of refugees lack the English skills that are essential for their integration, development and flourishing in the UK, the project provides four sessions every week. The mix of in-person and online classes is thought to fit the needs of the refugees and provide the best learning outcomes; the online classes are meant to make the lessons accessible to everyone with job-related and family obligations. Although this project has been running for many years, the incumbent project leader, Ivo Duarte Fernandes, has made several changes that have greatly improved volunteer numbers, regular attendance and retention. This is important for many reasons but, ultimately, it means that the sessions are of a better quality, further supporting the refugee community of Colchester to thrive. 

You can get your tickets to the in-person awards ceremony on Tuesday 23rd May at 3Sixty Reading, at Reading University Students’ Union here. Early Bird ticket prices are available till 21st April! 

Simran Dhanjal-Field

Sim is our CEO at Student Hubs. You can reach out to her at sim.dhanjal@studenthubs.org.

Tags: News

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