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 Opportunities for All Award
Recognising those that are engaging more students, encouraging wider participation, and helping to dismantle barriers. This award is about equity, equality, inclusion, diversity, and liberation work.
University of Bristol Phab
University of Bristol Phab has provided regular social events for disabled and non-disabled young people in the Bristol area. Their aim as a group is to promote inclusivity and equality by creating opportunities for everyone to get involved with and enjoy the same activities side by side. At their events, they always cater to a wide range of needs and provide a variety of activities which individuals can choose from on the day, from group games to crafts, dancing to cake decorating. They have also made an effort this year to celebrate cultural diversity by collaborating with Bollywood and Salsa societies to provide a richer range of experiences. As a result, there is always something for everyone and everyone is made to feel welcome. Furthermore, by sourcing adapted sports equipment such as a basketball net and a range of soft and weighted balls for their Phab Olympics event, they enabled more disabled people to get involved in a wider range of sports and play without barriers or judgement.
Briony Anstis at University of Essex
Briony is the President of Arts and Crafts Society, Project Leader of Art Club (a volunteering project) and the Accessibility Rep on the Volunteering Exec. Everything they do embraces and champions inclusion, liberation, equity, equality and diversity, both within the student and wider communities. They are the first ever Accessibility Rep for volunteering at Essex, in which they use their personal and professional experience and university education (MA Gender and Sexuality Studies) to report on how inclusive and accessible volunteering is and what we can do to break down barriers. As President of Arts & Crafts Society, they create and lead sessions that are explicitly welcome to all and easily accessible to neurodivergent folk, people with disabilities, queer folk, and everyone regardless of language barriers. And as Project Leader of Art Club, which runs two sessions a week doing arts and crafts activities with adults who have autism and/or learning differences in a local day centre, ECL Woodlands, Briony is the primary strategic, logistical and organisational lead of the project, delivering sessions, creating and planning sessions and supporting their volunteers to deliver sessions.
It Happens Here at Newcastle University
It Happens Here has been nominated for Opportunities for All due to their commitment to lead campaigns and sessions making Newcastle a safer place for all students. In particular noting their ‘Reclaim your Education’ campaign following concerns raised to them from secondary school students around spiking, their ‘Surviving in Solidarity’ peer support sessions, and the results of their #DoBetterNCL campaign.
Genshin Society at University of York
Genshin Society has one of the most welcoming communities at York, and part of this is that there is no student who would be out of place. Genshin’s socials range from the most active to academic to more chilled out. Their events being specifically 100% sober means that no student is isolated on grounds people often forget – such as religious reasons or medical reasons preventing someone from drinking. They also have taken special effort to create presentations with live-captioning so that students who are hard of hearing can take part.
Tremough Politics Society at The SU (Exeter and Falmouth Universities)
This group has made a concerted effort to reach out to students from diverse backgrounds and encourage them to participate in their events. They have also worked to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and open dialogue, which has allowed for a wide range of viewpoints to be heard and considered. Through their regular debate evenings, this group has encouraged students to think deeply about important issues and engage in constructive dialogue with their peers. By doing so, they have helped to create a culture of intellectual engagement on campus, which has had a ripple effect throughout the student body.
In addition to their efforts to engage more students and promote critical thinking, the Tremough Politics Society has also worked to dismantle barriers that may prevent some students from participating in their events. For example, they have made a concerted effort to provide accessible accommodations for students with disabilities, and have worked to ensure that their events are held at times that are convenient for as many students as possible.
Mu’sab A Ibn Zakeer at University of Greenwich
Mu’sab is currently Head Brother (President) of UoG Islamic Society (ISoc) where he manages a committee that provides prayer facilitation and activities for over 400 students. Mus’ab see’s the bigger picture for what ISoc Greenwich could be, and is consistently seeking new projects and ideas to continue giving to this community that he serves so well. Mus’ab works around the clock to not only support his committee members but educate staff who are trying to make their events and activities more accessible/increase their understanding of supporting students with faith. With every event that Mu’sab organises, he is incredibly passionate about encouraging wider participation with students of different faiths and actively works to ensure that although Muslim students are the heaviest users of the prayer spaces, that the space is accommodating and sufficiently equipped for users practising a variety of faiths and religions.
Debate Society at University of Worcester
They had noticed in their sessions that there were particular phrases that would be used but were particularly difficult for Hard of Hearing students to lip read. They approached the SU asking for funds to have the Deaf Association come in and deliver specialised Debate focused sign language training to their members to ensure all Debate members could take part in every aspect of the society. This grant was given and the Deaf Association created specific signs tailored to the society to ensure all could participate. A booklet depicting these signs was created in order to give to future members of the society.
Falmouth and Exeter Asian Society at Falmouth and Exeter Universities
Notably this year Asian Society has had a significant impact on Campus life in Cornwall. It has reached the largest number of students (Asian and non-Asian) that it has ever seen and brought them together under jovial and un-prejudiced circumstances. It has seen the highest level of engagement yet and established a community in which all Asian students on campus have some familiarity with one another. From the get-go at the start of the academic year, Asian Society established itself as a safe space bringing Asian students together. Notably, this year it has organised the celebration of core Asian festivals like Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Holi (soon will be celebrating Eid) – each of these festivals have been celebrated for first time ever on campus.
Music Society (Medway) at University of Greenwich
The Medway Music Society hold an event every Tuesday night where they give musicians the chance to perform in front of a crowd. These events have been happening now for over six years, and continue to play a central role in the night life on Medway campus, and the overall experience for students. Students have been thankful for the opportunity to perform to a crowd, especially since there are no restrictions on the type of music they can play, so students from all musical backgrounds can gain experience. One thing the society has done that deserves recognition is to reach out to other societies to collaborate on nights so different students feel welcomed to the society. This is especially true during Awareness Months, such as Black History Month, Disability History Month and LGBTQ+ History Month where they collaborated with marginalised musicians, as well as cultural societies so international students have a space where they can listen to and perform music from their home country. These events with the Indian Society and the LGBTQ+ Society have been some of the most welcoming on campus.
Disabled Students Network at Bath Spa University
The Disabled Students Network (DSN) face many daily challenges, including health issues which often mean their committee cannot consistently keep up with the network and the attendance of their members is often dependent on health. Despite this, the DSN have created a safe and informative space for disabled students at Bath Spa. They hold regular mixers and events, provide vital accessibility advice to both the other SU clubs and societies as well as the SU itself, and attend Presidents meetings and advocate for disabled students.
Amelia Doherty at University of York
Amelia has been nominated for this award due to the impact she has had on the community of York in her roles as Games and Fandom Representative, Secretary for RAG, and the Department Rep for History. In all of their roles, Amelia has championed intersectional inclusivity and accessibility. Her ability to compile resources that can be used year on year means no aspect of university life she has touched will be the same after she graduates; she has always made conscious effort for students to know exactly what they need, where to find it, and, as one fellow committee member said, “She is York’s encyclopaedia.”
Bethany Scott at University of Salford
Bethany Scott is a Radiography and Nursing student who joined the Fencing club during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fencing is widely known as an ableist sport, still struggling to meet the needs of people who may be suffering from disabilities, as well as those who are LGBTQ+, plus size or women. They have single-handedly worked to change the views on a centuries old sport to make it as inclusive as possible, first starting with local clubs and branching towards other clubs and groups to make sure anyone and everyone can enjoy the sport without being singled out for personal struggles.
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!