It's #studentvolunteeringweek and throughout this week we will feature amazing stories of student volunteers. Hannah Butterworth is a 4th Year Psychology student at Edinburgh University who volunteers with Age Scotland.
What is the value of volunteering?
Volunteering is valuable to me because just a few hours of my time every week can make such a positive difference to somebody’s day. Knowing that your phone call has made someone’s day just a little bit brighter is so rewarding.
Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer because I think it’s so important to stay connected with groups of people that I wouldn’t necessarily come across that often as a university student. I think that elderly people in particular can feel quite isolated in society due to technology advancing so quickly and everything going online, so I think volunteering at Age Scotland’s Community Connecting service is incredibly important to me because it allows me to find clubs and activities for our callers online, that they wouldn't have known about if they didn’t have access to, or weren’t able to use the internet.
What have you gained from volunteering?
Feeling like I’ve made a positive difference to someone has definitely added value to my everyday life. It is, by far, one of the most rewarding experiences I have. In the future, I want to pursue a career as a Clinical Psychologist, and volunteering at Age Scotland has highlighted to me how important it is for everyone, particularly those who are older and more isolated, to have someone that they can trust and talk to, which has led to me deciding that I would like to offer free clinical services to elderly people in the future.
It's #studentvolunteeringweek and throughout this week we will feature amazing stories of student volunteers.
In the last year many student societies and projects received funding through the Volunteering Impact Fund. A group of eight Medical students were funded to create ‘Cooking for Health’, a series of workshops about cooking skills and basic nutrition to elderly or isolated individuals. We spoke with Sarah Janac about the project and what the group achieved.
As part of their Medical course, there was a Student Selected Component (SSC), a flexible time option. Sarah explained that students ‘can do whatever they want as a group. People do research, organise concerts, we decided to volunteer.’ The group are passionate about cooking and decided to run workshops for vulnerable people in the community. Inspired by their studies on Health, Ethics and Societies, they wanted to explore and ‘get more in touch with the community.’
From January until March 2018, the group ran workshops to improve nutrition and have balanced meals, but also ‘give the participants more confidence in cooking to take better care of themselves and reduce isolation.’ 8 people, mostly in their 70s and 80s, signed up for ‘Cooking for Health’. The initial meeting between the students and participants was to find out what they wanted to and their interests. The next three to four meetings were the cooking classes, with the recipes tailored to the participants.
Sarah says that it was ‘really enjoyable and lots of fun.’ She feels that the group are now ‘more in touch with the community and different types of people we wouldn’t otherwise have met.’
A moment that stands out for Sarah is when she saw the progress of one participant, ‘He assembled food himself, really enjoyed it and ran with it.’
There were challenges along the way, due to the nature of the project it was difficult to reach isolated individuals. ‘Social media was useful in promoting the workshops and finding participants, as was word of mouth.’ The group also found they had ‘overestimated the ability of the participants because we’ve never worked with people from that background. For example, lots of them couldn’t chop. So we had to buy pre-chopped vegetables. Some of them also couldn’t stand for a long time, so we adapted to these needs along the way. We wanted to focus on healthy recipes – cooking that’s good, convenient, and quick.’
For any students interested in starting their own project, Sarah advises ‘getting up and doing something with people you wouldn’t ordinarily work with is really interesting and rewarding.’
Set up a Volunteering Society of Project
It's #studentvolunteeringweek and throughout this week we will feature amazing stories of student volunteers and the people and organisations they help. The spotlight is on Children's Holiday Venture.
Children’s Holiday Venture is fully student-run and we are very proud of that! Since 1963 we have been inspiring Edinburgh’s children to achieve their potential and experience things they don’t have the opportunity see in their everyday lives. We take groups of children from the areas of Pilton and Niddrie and embark on fun after school activities and weekend day trips. We even run annual camps to PGL in Dalguise! We like to let our volunteer reviews speak for themselves in terms of the impact we have on Edinburgh’s children, so here are some examples of the positive impact CHV has on the whole Edinburgh community!
Jenny Edwards, former CHV Communications Officer and Group Leader:
'Volunteering with Children’s Holiday Venture was easily one of the best things I did at university. During university, it was a great way to have fun away from studying, hopping in the minibuses off to trampolining or swimming, and laughing with the kids. Socially, I made great friends with other volunteers who are still my best friends, meeting people with shared interests. Also, working whilst working with CHV, I found a passion for working with young people as well as for social justice and equity of opportunity which has hugely influenced my choice of career post-uni. My experiences at CHV, both as a group leader and committee member, helped to open the door to the jobs I’ve had too. So, thank you CHV, for all that you have given me!'
Nick Thompson, current volunteer with CHV:
'I joined CHV in first year on a whim but have ended up regularly volunteering for my five years at Edinburgh University and am so glad I did. It has been great to get to know these kids, some of whom I have seen the whole way through their CHV career. Although, it may not seem like much from the outside, it’s amazing what an effect playing and enjoying the activities can have on both the kids and the students. But more importantly, the kids really appreciate having someone they can depend on, and show interest in their futures, but won’t tell them off for having a laugh. It’s a small commitment, one evening every two weeks, but a great opportunity that I am glad I didn’t miss out on!'
CHV's website: https://chv.org.uk
CHV's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edinburghuniversitychildrensholidayventure/
Logo courtesy of Children's Holiday Venture
Student Volunteering Week is a national celebration of the impact of student volunteers and sees thousands of students around the UK engaging in community life through tackling social and environmental challenges, supporting local causes and volunteering in the community.
Students are often at the forefront of change and getting involved offers a great opportunity for students to develop their skills while forming key partnerships in local communities. The Volunteering Service at the Students' Association encourages students, the university, social enterprises and charities to get involved and we have a very exciting event.
Here are some of the events that we have on during Student Volunteering Week 2019!
Cardmaking Drop-in, Chaplaincy, 12 - 2pm
Volunteering Stall at the Main Library, 12 - 2pm
Volunteering Service at the Advice Place, King’s Buildings House, 2 - 5pm
Emotional Intelligence Workshop, 6 - 7.30pm (SOLD OUT)
Little France Stall with Volunteering Ambassador, Thomas Evans, 11.30 - 13.30
The Edinburgh Pad Project, Edinburgh ReMakery, 12 - 3pm
Team Volunteering - Painting Volunteer with The Open Door
Screening of The Love You Give – short film about orphanage volunteering, 6pm
Volunteering Stall at Easter Bush, 12 - 2pm
Edinburgh University Students' Association is a charity (SC015800) and a company limited by guarantee (SC429897) registered in Scotland.
Registered Office: Potterrow, 5/2 Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL