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Monday afternoon, representatives from the charity, government and business sectors gathered at London’s City Hall to celebrate Student Volunteering Week.Veronica Wadley, Senior Mayoral Advisor for Volunteering opened the event. She spoke about the importance of student volunteering to the mayor’s vision for London, particularly in light of London’s status as European Volunteering Capital 2016.
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, stressed the importance of volunteering to employment in later life, telling us that “social action is linked with enhanced employability skills. You’re 3 times more likely to get a job interview if you volunteer.”
Joy Carter, Chair of Guild HE and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said that it’s crucial for colleges and universities to invest in student volunteering to make it accessible to every student alongside their studies. She shared examples from her own university where students are encouraged at every opportunity to get out into the local community and give something back.
The event brought together all 10 students longlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. Richard Brooks, VP Union Development for NUS, Sara Fernandez, Executive Director of Student Hubs, and Joe Crook, Student Volunteering Network, shared the longlist and shortlist’s accomplishments with our audience. It was Liam Rodgers of Sheffield Hallam University who was announced as the winner, recognising his outstanding commitment to social action demonstrated by Liam through Upscribe, a creative writing project he founded for homeless people and other marginalised groups.
The other four shortlisted students — Jo, Kathleen, Samuel and Zoe — were also recognised for dedicating their time to causes they care about…
- Jo Devall from the University of Plymouth is a Volunteer Lifeboat Crewman for the RNLI in Plymouth, and former President of UPSU SAINTS Kickboxing Club.
- Kathleen Crymble from South Lanarkshire College established the Back to School Bank in East Kilbride in summer 2015.
- Samuel Wong from Royal Holloway is a Cabinet Office Volunteer Advisor, Project Leader for numerous volunteering projects, and is involved with the local Police Independent Advisory Group and Young Community Leaders Network.
- Zoe Webber from Goldsmiths University is the President of RE:mind mental health society, and is dedicated to volunteering to help students to improve their mental health.
Well done to all of our award finalists, as well as our longlisted candidates. It was wonderful to see them all come together at last, and the mutual admiration among them was clear. In a heartwarming twist, Liam pledged a third of his £1,000 prize money to Kathleen’s Back to School Bank project, saying that reading about it almost brought him to tears.
You can hear an interview with Liam as part of BBC Radio 1’s #1MillionHours campaignhere.
Yesterday was just the start, however. Over 250 Student Volunteering Week events are taking place this week, involving over 14,000 students from 125 colleges and universities around the country. You can read all about the events on our What’s On page.
Happy Student Volunteering Week 2016!