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.
Nico set up a website to promote cross-cultural understanding among Islington residents
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!
By Taric Matticks, 2nd Year Informatics
The team after finishing
London Student Volunteering fortnight is an annual event that was created in 2008 by a set of London universities. Every year they join forces to provide a diverse set of opportunities for students from to get involved in across London. This year City University London took a prominent role in organising two of the events, and I had the privilege of volunteering at one of them: tidying up and enhancing the outdoor space at Islington Arts Factory.
Islington Arts Factory is a community arts centre based in Holloway. They are a registered charity which provides high quality classes, courses, and workshops for children and adults in the areas of dance, visual art and music, and regularly host performances and exhibitions to showcase the talents of their students.
The arts centre needed some assistance in renovating an overgrown outdoor area which had fallen into a state of neglect. Our task was to make it presentable so it could be used by the community once again. I had never really done any work of this nature before so for me personally it was a good experience to try it out. One of the things I like about volunteering is it gives you the opportunity to try out new things that you normally wouldn’t do and takes you out of your comfort zone. I was certainly out of my comfort zone then, but I didn’t let this phase me and got stuck in to activities such as sweeping the churchyard and patio, pulling up weeds, picking up litter, pruning bushes and overgrowth, moving soil and compost, cleaning the garden furniture, raking up the leaves and planting bulbs. It even started raining at one point but we didn’t let that stop us.
Hard at work!
I felt like Nick Knowles on an episode of DIY SOS thinking back to how the area looked before, and looking at it afterwards. Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at this event and left feeling empowered, galvanised and wanting more. The sense of achievement I feel after volunteering and making a tangible difference to the community is priceless. I also got the opportunity to meet new people and make friends and am looking forward to participating in more events in the future.
LSVF finishes on the 10th of November so there’s still time to get involved. For info on the two remaining events click here.
Taric’s personal blog can be found here. If you’re a City student and want to get involved in volunteering check out our volunteering website.