The Volunteering Service works with local and national volunteering providers to offer students activities to enrich their lives. We spoke with Mark Paul who volunteers at Crisis about the work they do and how student volunteers have contributed.
Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. Mark explains that Crisis ‘supports people out of homelessness for good. They do this through education, training and support with housing, employment and health. They offer one to one support, advice and courses for homeless people in 12 areas across Scotland, England and Wales.’
Crisis is also a pioneering research, examining ‘the causes and consequences of homelessness, and campaign for the changes needed to end it for everyone, for good.’ Crisis are currently producing a plan to end homelessness once and for all.
Crisis look for volunteers who are enthusiastic, non-judgemental, respectful, reliable and have a passion to end homelessness. Local volunteers in Edinburgh are involved in a wide range of activities: administration in the office, classroom assistants, policy and communication, housing practice fundraising and Crisis at Christmas. Student volunteers are currently ‘collecting feedback on the work of our progression team, supporting our members with CV writing and job hunting, and making decorations for the volunteer week ‘thank you' event. ‘
Mark volunteers at Crisis at Christmas in London, and it also runs in Edinburgh. Mark described the Christmas week programme that Crisis have run since 1972, homeless people are provided with ‘three meals a day, somewhere warm to sleep, hot showers, entertainment, haircuts, manicures and more. Most importantly though, they provide companionship, safety and respite from homelessness.’
Mark mentioned several statistics that speak to the vulnerability and suffering of homeless people, ‘the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47. Rough sleepers are almost 17 times more likely to be the victim of violent assault. Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than a member of the general public.’
He encourages anyone to volunteer during this ‘I volunteer in London, but there are also shelters in Edinburgh and in most major cities across the UK. To sign up to volunteer, just visit Crisis’s website around October or later. Anyone can apply to be a general volunteer, which involves all the major challenges of running a homeless centre on a large scale: serving meals to guests, registering new guests, patrolling the building, cleaning, talking to guests, helping to run activities, washing dishes and cleaning toilets (awful, but necessary!).’
Student volunteers, like Mark, have contributed a lot to Crisis, ‘although some may only be with Crisis for a few months, they make a huge contribution.’ Crisis support a number of migrant homeless people, from all over the world and Mark adds, ‘it's always useful when volunteers, like international students, speak other languages.’
The work of student volunteers has a direct impact and allows Crisis ‘to increase class sizes and/or the time and attention given to individual learners, to increase our fundraising reach, and develop new income streams, to better evaluate our services, and to increase support for members seeking jobs.’ All of the volunteers help Crisis to support more people out of homelessness.
Recruiting and training volunteers in resource intensive but Mark says that ‘the quality of volunteers they get are worth the effort, even for a short time. Crisis couldn't provide the range and quality of services without fantastic volunteers!’
Find out more about Crisis
The Volunteering Service offers many programmes that students can get involved with, including one-off volunteering and an ambassador scheme.
Team Leaders are involved in our one-off volunteering programme, they are the key contact and liaison between local organisations and charities, the Volunteering Service at the Students' Association, and students taking part. Team Leaders are trained and gain skills in project management, communication and working with small groups of people. If you're interested in one-off volunteering, you'll most likely meet them!
The Team Leaders this year are Elina Turner, Katlo Bastile, Sabrina Shafiq, Jenny Lin, Godwin Aniteo, Emma Wright, Sarah Dange and Ben Yu.
Volunteering Ambassadors are students with an interest in volunteering and helping the community. They spread your passion and inspire our students! They represent volunteering and share their own volunteering story. They are trained and develop interpersonal skills, events management and public engagement. They are at the Main Library every second week during semester, come and say hello!
The Volunteering Ambassadors this year are Jenny Lin, Thomas Evans and Ben Yu.
Find out more about some of our wonderful Team Leaders and Volunteering Ambassadors.
Hey, I'm Godwin (or Kodjo to some), I'm a 2nd year Economics and Economic History student and I'm a team leader in volunteering. I've always enjoyed spending my time helping others and I'm especially keen on international aid. I hope to improve my Chinese enough to be able to take my desires far East!
Hi everyone! My name is Katlo Batsile and I’m a 3rd year Chemical Engineering with Management student. I got involved with this programme because I thought it would be a good way to meet new people of a similar mindset to mine and because I felt the need to volunteer my time to help other people as well. I strongly believe that people should not underestimate the importance of volunteering even if it’s just an hour of their time a month to helping out and even possibly contributing to however small or big a cause they may choose.
My name is Emma and I am a third-year Politics with Quantitative Methods student. I am one of the volunteer team leaders this year, so I look forward to working with you all across the projects we have running this year. I really love coffee art, Lilo and Stitch, and banana bread.
Hi, my name is Ben Yu! I am studying Computer Science in the second year. I am a big fan of the scenes around our historic city. I aim to walk over every street in Edinburgh in 4 years. Feel free to ask me any view spots in Edinburgh.
Images courtesy of the Team Leaders and Volunteering Ambassadors
Find one-off volunteering opportunities here
If you're interested in being a Team Leader or Volunteering Ambassador, please contact email@example.com
Are you thinking about volunteering overseas? Before you sign up, there are a few things to consider about volunteering in an orphanage.
Today is the launch of ReThink Orphanages, a social enterprise campaign to end orphanage volunteering. LSE explain, 'Volunteering in orphanages is a popular means of ‘giving back’ among gap year travellers and short-term mission teams. However, this well-meaning support is weakening the global care reform effort to move away from the institutional model of care for children. Around 80% of children who live in orphanages are not ‘orphans’ – they have at least one living parent. One of the main reasons for a child to be placed in an orphanage is poverty – the only way for many children to get an education or access other basic services such as health care is to be raised in institutions, away from their families. The solution is to focus on strengthening families and communities to prevent this from happening.
There are many reasons why volunteering in orphanages can be particularly detrimental to children: it can lead to child trafficking, sexual exploitation and psychological disorders.'
Text courtesy of LSE/ReThink Orphanages
Article: Universities have a duty to stop promoting orphanage volunteering
Video: How volunteering abroad in orphanages is harmful to children
Video: Orphanage tourism
Mental Health and Wellbeing Week - a week-long programme of events and activities focused on mental health which aim to support, inspire and challenge the University community. Mental Health and Wellbeing Week 2018 will run from November 12th to 16th.
The Volunteering Service has organised some fantastic events throughout the week!
You can find event highlights below and the full programme here.
We know that volunteering is wonderful thing to do. But it's also good for you!
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