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 Event Award
Recognising a brilliant event organised by a society or volunteering team. This event doesn’t have to be large-scale with a huge budget. We are just as interested in smaller scale events – as long as they made a difference to attendees. We’re looking for real innovation and a fantastic experience for attendees.
Sheffield PLAN Panel Discussion at University of Sheffield.
Sheffield Professional LGBT+ & Allies Network (PLAN) is an LGBT+ career focused society, which was established in September 2022. On February 28th, PLAN held a panel discussion with Building Equality revolving around the general theme of LGBT+ inclusivity in the workplace and creating safe spaces, with focus on the built environment sector. Followed by a networking opportunity between student members and industry professionals. The event itself was the first of its kind bringing together employees of the University of Sheffield and industry experts to specifically raise LGBT+ awareness. The feedback of one attendee, who is a final year student studying Urban Planning, was that “This was the first time in my studies that I am sitting in a room with people in my industry that work for companies I want to work for who look and are like me.”
SWOT Fashion Show at Queen’s University Belfast.
The SWOT Fashion Show was, without a doubt, the highlight of SWOT’s year. However, the name is a bit of a misnomer- while local companies did sponsor clothing worn throughout the performance, the real focus of the night was a series of dance numbers put on by the current fourth year medical students. This year there were 80 medical students across 19 dances which the extremely talented SWOT Fashion Show Team choreographed and organised: Kate McAteer, Ryan McKeown, and Susan McKendry. Most students had not set foot in a dance studio all their lives but were extremely keen to participate for charity.
In August 2022 the SWOT committee knew that they were inheriting a society that was very different to what their colleagues in the previous four years knew it as. However, for the first time since 2019, SWOT finally had a real chance to thrive without the omnipresent fear of COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, this was the first SWOT Fashion Show in 4 years due to the pandemic which raised many challenges for the SWOT committee. The fashion show was an antiquated concept, with many lost connections with sponsors, local shops, and most importantly the community. The night was an enormous success with 900 people attending to watch, raising an amazing £22.5K. This will make a huge impact in the communities to which it is being taken to in the form of life saving medication and medical equipment.
iNUGSC 2023 at UCL.
The International Undergraduate & Foundation Surgery Conference 2023 is the largest student led surgical conference in the UK. Megan Fallows (VP Surgical Society and Conference Director) has brought together like-minded individuals from all over the world, including speakers and delegates from Hong Kong, Hungary, India & Cyprus. This creates a beautiful sense of community where everyone feels safe to express their passion and desire to delve into the world of surgery. There were over 400 people who attended the talk in person or online, and speakers were international and travelled from various countries. The feedback from the conference was outstanding and even non medical students were inspired to look into a career in surgery. The price of the conference was extremely low for a 2 day event so it was accessible to as many people as possible. Megan has worked incredibly hard for UCL Surgical Society and also introduced a widening participation project this year which received over £675 worth of sponsorship and allowed sixth form students from ethnic minority backgrounds to attend iNUGSC 2023 for free and to receive a day of mentorship on getting into medical school. She also ran an academic competition at the international event which meant students had the opportunity to present oral and poster presentations, to boost their confidence and gather feedback on their research, with prizes won.
Bristol Chinese Students’ and Scholars’ Association at University of Bristol.
The Chinese Students’ and Scholar’s Association (CSSA) Spring Festival Marketplace is a non-profit student event hosted by Bristol CSSA, University of Bristol’s Global Lounge and Bristol SU to celebrate Chinese New Year. This activity is open to all students and staff at the University of Bristol, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. While creating the Spring Festival atmosphere for overseas Chinese and other local communities, CSSA hope that everyone finds it comfortable to join in celebrating the most important festival throughout the year in the Chinese calendar.
The temple fair adopts a “marketplace + performance” format, and involves different booths to experience activities according to the theme and meaning of the customs. To make Chinese students feel more at home for the festival, stalls are placed in the order of the dates for celebrations and customs during the Spring Festival. The 2023 event provided a platform for local businesses to showcase their products and services, and also helped raise awareness of Chinese culture and traditions in the city, as well as providing an opportunity for foreign friends to learn about Chinese culture
Nutrition Society at Roehampton Students’ Union.
The Nutrition Society is a brand new Society at Roehampton Students’ Union. Throughout the year, they have hosted a range of events and activities and reached a wide range of students – most of whom do not belong to the Nutrition and Health course at Roehampton. Their ‘Blue Poops’ event was the reason for their nomination – The Nutrition Society committee booked an on-campus kitchen, and delivered a presentation on gut health. They presented and chaired a discussion that they wrote on cutting edge research in the sector, the links between gut health and mental health/mood, and generally breaking the taboo on discussing our poo and bowel movements with other people.
They then started cooking, and baked blue muffins which were made to a vegan and gluten free recipe. The intention of this, is to test the gut transit time (how long food takes to travel through you) which is determined by seeing blue in your poo from the muffin. Attendees had fun baking the muffins and took these home to undertake the experiment privately after the event.
Trashion Show at University of Bristol.
The Fashion Forward Society is a society that has adapted to incorporate a more sustainable perspective to the fashion industry, challenging fast fashion issues and building spaces for university students to understand how they can enjoy fashion in a sustainable way. They have been nominated for their charity Trashion Show which raised £1000 for Bristol Hub. They sold out the event at a local bar, and had over 20 designers creating and showcasing styles, all made from recycled materials (including one made entirely of torn supermarket bags!). The designers worked over 3 months to create their designs and included a diverse range of models that demonstrates the strides they are taking to ensure their events are inclusive as well as creative. The society itself have been planning and organising the event over the past six months, to deliver a spectacular event. Not only did they showcase fantastic styles from upcycled materials, but they brought in local student creatives to sell their handmade products at the event, and included local music artists to showcase their work. The evening was engaging, informative and an incredible way to start discussions on fast fashion and raise awareness for local charities and artists, contributing to celebrating the wider Bristol community. They deserve recognition for managing to host such a large event and build such a community at the same time. Selling over 200 tickets, and still turning people away at the door on the night, demonstrates the excitement and need for bringing social and sustainability issues into light in fun and innovative ways.
The Big Geek Fundraiser at Edge Hill Students’ Union.
The Big Geek Fundraiser was an event organised by Jade Sumner and Andrew Headington from TCG (Trading Card Game) Society and Chloe Hallam from EHSU Queers Society at Edge Hill University (Students’ Union). The three students mentioned rallied numerous societies (eight in total at the University) and collaborated to create an absolutely magnificent fundraiser for LGBTQ+ charity The Proud Trust. All three individuals have demonstrated immense leadership and organisational qualities. Their event, The Big Geek Fundraiser was a huge success and brought so many other societies together, to work towards one common goal. These societies included TCG (Trading Card Game) Society, EHSU Queers Society, Anime Society, Pokemon + Society, Werewolf and Tabletop Society, Video Gaming Society, NeuroDiverse Society and The Cartoon Coven (Cartoon Society). This event would not have been possible, but for their communication, relationship building and planning/organisation skills.
LGBTQ+ Society History Month Ball at University of Bristol.
Bristol SU’s LGBTQ+ Society held their History Month Ball for 150+ students in the Anson Rooms on 2 February. They were nominated for delivering such a high-quality event, that developed on previous years’ work, provided a new and safe space to build community, educated about LGBTQ+ history, and had an amazing celebratory vibe. The society planned an event which included vegan chili and nachos, a free photobooth, jazz orchestra, DJ, and a raffle raising money for Bristol Refugee Rights. They sold 171 tickets to students from across Bristol (bringing together students from University of Bristol, and the University of the West of England).
The group prioritised inclusivity at every stage, notable elements being their quiet space (with students there to support, along with blankets, cuddly toys etc), gender neutral toilet facilities, free ear plugs, vegan food, and the option for free tickets for anyone unable to afford a ticket. The society ensured that as well as being a celebration, the event marked History Month by featuring notable LGBTQ+ icons from history in their event decor. The music was predominantly from LGBTQ+ artists, and all performances were from students
Holi Celebration at Dundee University.
The University of Dundee Indian Society’s main goal is to unite students from India and other countries. The event is now a tradition in Dundee University and is organised every year around the time of Holi. The festival is open to all students and the local community and starts at lunchtime with food music and colours on Campus Green. There are competitions and dances until the evening when the event will move into the two night clubs with another Bollywood Night which will partner with a Mediterranean Extravaganza led by the Hellenic Society. Indian society worked on this event for months with the help of the Student Association.
The Midnights Release Party at Exeter Students’ Guild.
The event was held in honour of the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th album “Midnights” and involved a listening party transitioning into a club night at Zinc. We also made sure our listening party section of the event was more accessible to members who preferred not to be in a clubbing environment but still wanted to show support for the release of the album. For the first hour when we played the new album, the music was on a quieter volume and there was no strobe lighting. This made it so every member was able to come to the event whether they liked clubbing or not. It provided a safe space for members who might not like clubbing at normal club events as this event provided a space for everyone to only be surrounded by other Taylor Swift fans and music they were comfortable with.
The Tea Party at Bangor University.
The Tea Party is a project which plans Christmas and Easter parties for older members of our local community. When inviting the older people to the tea party they also promote other volunteering projects so that their guests may choose to be as involved with the University in other ways, forming a new bond between the student volunteers and older people in the local community.
The tea party has been an essential part of the community in Bangor. The tea party was the first volunteering project run by Bangor University and started in 1952 therefore, this year was the 70th anniversary for this project.
Langar on Campus at Ashton Students’ Union.
Aston Sikh Society has done a fantastic job this year with Langar On Campus. They worked very hard to bring this amazing event and spread positivity across campus. What is Langar? It translates to “free kitchen”. It is a free community kitchen and the main principles of Langar are fighting hunger, equality and teaching compassion. Langar is always run free of charge by volunteers and is served to all people without distinction of gender, socio-economic status, caste, ethnicity, or religious creed. By organising this event, Sikh Society have worked to ensure that all students at Aston feel welcomed and have access to free food regardless of who they are and where the come from. They made everyone feel welcomed and part of their community, as well as the wider Aston community. They had over 1200 students attend, enjoy food and interact with one another. There is not event that has taken place this year on campus that has this many attendees. Through this event they have made a positive impact by encouraging students to come together, talk over food and learn about one another.
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!