I really like the quote that appears when you first log on to the student volunteering week website (www.studentvolunteeringweek.org.uk) 'We don't wish things were better. We make it better'. This phrase sums up for me what I think volunteering is about, making a difference and taking things into your own hands. When you think of volunteering, students maybe aren't the people you immediately picture as being the perfect candidates, but around the country thousands of students are taking the opportunity to volunteer, and this week is the week to celebrate that. Student volunteering week takes place from 11th to 16th February 2013 and is run by National Union of Students and Student Hubs. Universities nationwide will be celebrating this week and there will also be national celebrations held throughout. It is the 12th year student volunteering week has run and the main aims of the week are to promote and celebrate volunteering.
I think the week is a great opportunity to encourage more students to get involved in volunteering as I really believe it is a great thing to do. Students can be seen as selfish beings that only focus on what they can gain, but this week aims to change that. The fact that there it is a national celebration week for student volunteers highlights how important it is. Volunteering isn't something that students are forced into doing, if it becomes this then it is a no longer an activity that the student has chosen to do and therefore loses its value. Currently with the increasing difficulties graduates are finding with getting jobs, it seems that plenty of students will judge activities on what will be helpful to them personally, which is understandable, but volunteering helps us to see the wider picture and how we can help others without thinking about whether this action will benefit us in any way.
I understand that as a student there are plenty of things to do with your time and it could be difficult to see why volunteering could be beneficial if you haven't volunteered before. It fills up valuable time and uses up your energy on something you aren't even earning money for doing. However, it really is so important and the rewards you can gain from giving up your time to help your community is invaluable. Volunteering may not come near the top of a student's list, but it is really easy to get involved, even for an hour or so a week or with a one off event, and make a real difference.
Primarily, volunteering is about helping and contributing your time and effort towards a cause, but alongside this it should be about the enjoyment you gain personally from volunteering and hopefully it will leave you feeling better about yourself. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in your chosen field or just a chance to try out something new, whether that is trying to save the environment, working with the elderly or helping out a youth club, there are such a variety of opportunities. The best volunteering projects to get involved in are for causes you really believe in, if it isn't something you enjoy and feel passionate about, chances are it won't be that enjoyable for you. So try to pick something that interests you.
Among other things, you can gain skills, meet new friends and help other people at the same time. It really is simple, and much easier to do than some people perceive it as being.
So if you are a student, and interested in volunteering, get in touch with your students union and they will put you in touch with the appropriate people in the University to talk to. It really is worth a look, I'm sure you won't regret it.