By Ben Butler, Acting Manager of the Student Development and Outreach team. Ben has been responsible for City University London’s Community Volunteering since 2009.
I love it when a group of people can see a need in the community, get together and work out what they can do to help meet it. I also love it when students get the opportunity to develop advanced management skills – like motivating a team (without payment as incentive), budget management, conflict resolution, liaising with stakeholders – that may not normally arise in a volunteer role. City’s Volunteer Management Programme brings together both of these things.
We encourage students to look at our local area positively, to identify what they might be able to offer and put forward their suggestions. We provide them with support and the opportunity to get some funding to help meet any start-up costs, and then we encourage, wait and see the results. When everything works well, everybody benefits and it’s one of the most satisfying parts of my job.
Last week we had the Volunteer Management Programme Panel Meeting, students present their project ideas to me and to our funders, the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. It is always enjoyable. We had four presentations, all of which aim to engage local young people in different ways. One of the projects aims to reduce re-offending rates, one to raise awareness of cultural diversity and being a global citizen, one to augment the widening participation work that the university currently undertakes and another project hopes to help people seek creative solutions to problems through imagination and dance. Each of the projects has merit and potential, winning the full support of our panel, but what shines through in each case is how much passion the students have to make things better.
If you are interested in reading more about previous student-led projects, check them out on our Wall of Fame!