Volunteering is something I have been heavily involved in whilst at University and now in my final year, I am on the Student Executive Committee for Warwick Volunteers. Throughout the year we do plenty of volunteering and offer students many different opportunities, but we use Student Volunteering Week as a celebration of all the volunteering that goes on at Warwick.
This year, we decided upon a new event to be the main focus of the week, the idea was to create 24 hours' worth of volunteering opportunities for any students to get involved with, regardless of whether or not they had ever volunteered before. We wanted it to be an event that everyone at Warwick could be a part of, and attempted to plan a variety of activities that would be of interest to a wide variety of people.
The idea came from chatting to students from other Universities at a conference and sharing ideas. We needed to come up with something that would be enjoyable and would attract volunteers, but at the same time would be beneficial to the community; this can often be quite difficult to balance. We decided upon twelve events, a food bank collection, food bank sorting, mural painting at a youth club, painting and decorating at a community centre, conservation work, tree planting, a litter pick, a cultural evening at a local care home, a disco for disabled and able-bodied people from a local community club, a crafty sleepover creating crafts for local charity shops, a sponsored walk and bee hotel making. The event was supported by Santander Universities which meant we could provide transport and resources for the different sessions. The event helped to spread the word about Warwick Volunteers around campus as we managed to get various Warwick University sports clubs involved throughout and were written about in our student newspaper, The Boar (http://theboar.org/2014/03/07/warwick-volunteers-complete-24-hour-event/#.UyxTBfl_uSo) and were also able to speak on our student radio station, RAW. Further afield we managed to spread what we were doing with the local community through speaking on BBC Radio Warwickshire.
In order to organise the event the Executive committee have been working alongside a group of volunteers divided into a publicity team to generate student interest and an events team to organise the sessions themselves and alongside the Warwick Volunteers staff. Although it has been hard work, I really believe it has paid off. We managed to fulfill our aims of having an event that encouraged over 100 volunteers to get involved and in total over 500 hours were given to the local community.
The event was such a success, from an amazing disco which carried on for hours to getting up early and litter picking in the freezing cold, from a midnight walk around the local area which has raised nearly £400 for a local youth club to painting a local community centre. The impact of the event has been highly positive, and has hopefully shown how beneficial students and their efforts can be for the local area. The feedback from students and those from the local community alike has been so positive, it was definitely a worthwhile event, as has hopefully demonstrated a taste of the great work Warwick Volunteers does.
For me student volunteering is something I believe is very important. At University, students have the perfect opportunity to get involved because of the time they are able to give which may be greatly reduced when they enter the world of work, and I think opportunities like this which offer a one off chance to take part can be a very attractive prospect. Student Volunteering Week celebrates the hard work that student volunteers across the country put in and demonstrates the positive impact students can have in their local community.