Spotlight on Volunteering

 

Share your volunteering story with us for a chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher. We will publish your story on our Spotlight on Volunteering blog and social media channels.

 

Simply email us about the volunteering you do and how this makes a difference to yourself and others. You may want to include a report, photos of an event, or a quote from someone else involved. Email your story to volunteering@eusa.ed.ac.uk. 

 

 

Spotlight on volunteering and Coronavirus/Covid-19 

 

 

There’s a high chance that volunteering will be far from people’s minds at the moment, and that’s completely understandable. Being healthy, and keeping loved ones safe, will undoubtedly be at the forefront of everyone’s priorities and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the virus. However, we wanted to share some advice about how you can negotiate this period and how students can continue to contribute to their communities. In relation to all of the below we heavily recommend you follow the advice that’s been provided by Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the UK government and do not take undue risks with your personal health. 

 

What about my current volunteering? 

In light of the rapidly changing situation and impact of Covid-19, you may find that your volunteering is being postponed or cancelled. Ensure that you look out for communications from the organisation/s you are volunteering with – they will likely provide information on what the next steps are. If they have not been in touch with you about this, please get in touch with them. Bear in mind that they may be receiving a high volume of queries at this time and may take a little time to get back to you.  

 

We recommend all students discontinue volunteering in-person at this time. Help yourself and others by following the UK government’s advice to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home during this time. 

 

If you decide to discontinue volunteering, that is understandable, and it is your right to make that decision. Please communicate this clearly with your organisation and give them as much notice as possible.  

 

How can you help? 

With the ongoing Covid-19/Coronavirus outbreak lots of people are offering their help to those who may be in need of assistance in these difficult times. If you are continuing to, or thinking about volunteering in person, Volunteer Edinburgh (Edinburgh's local volunteering centre) has created Guidance and FAQs for volunteers in light of Covid-19 - please read this carefully. 

 

Supporting communities during Covid-19

We are currently in the process of speaking to partners and will add relevant opportunities to the list below as we receive them.

 

It is expected that foodbanks, community groups and those helping the elderly to be most in need and donating items or money to these groups could make an invaluable difference. Follow their social media and websites to see if and when they are looking to recruit volunteers. 

 

You must follow government guidelines including staying 6ft away from people out with your household and if possible, avoid too many trips to the supermarket or pharmacy.

 

Here is a list of ways you can help your community:

 

Online volunteering opportunities 

If you discontinue your physical volunteering, we’ve compiled a list of online volunteering opportunities to help you spend your time continue to contribute and stay connected to communities:

Online opportunities on Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Volunteering Hub  

United Nations Volunteers 

Princes Trust Online Mentors 

Help from Home: micro volunteering opportunities 

LibriVox: read and record chapters of books 

Translators without borders 

Zooniverse: online research projects 

Project Implicit 

The Maturity of Baby Sounds: help us to better understand the very first stages of language learning 

Be My Eyes: a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call 

Action for insects: pledge to help insects 

Run, Herring, Run!: count baby river herring as they head to sea! 

Miss Maps: help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people 

Floating Forrests: help us uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe 

Instant Wild: online conservation work 

Garden Birdwatch – British Trust for Ornithology 

Star-Spotting: Natural History Museum 

 

If you are aware of any others, let the Volunteering Service know, email volunteering@eusa.ed.ac.uk

 

Please note that the Volunteering Service is now working remotely and contactable via email only. 

 

Previous Spotlight on Volunteering Features

 

  • Mon 23 Mar 2020 16:53

     

    There’s a high chance that volunteering will be far from people’s minds at the moment, and that’s completely understandable. Being healthy, and keeping loved ones safe, will undoubtedly be at the forefront of everyone’s priorities and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the virus. However, we wanted to share some advice about how you can negotiate this period and how students can continue to contribute to their communities. In relation to all of the below we strongly recommend you follow the advice that’s been provided by Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the UK government and do not take undue risks with your personal health. 

     

    What about my current volunteering? 

    In light of the rapidly changing situation and impact of Covid-19, you may find that your volunteering is being postponed or cancelled. Ensure that you look out for communications from the organisation/s you are volunteering with – they will likely provide information on what the next steps are. If they have not been in touch with you about this, please get in touch with them. Bear in mind that they may be receiving a high volume of queries at this time and may take a little time to get back to you.  

     

    We recommend all students discontinue volunteering in-person at this time. Help yourself and others by following the UK government’s advice to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home during this time. 

     

    If you decide to discontinue volunteering, that is understandable, and it is your right to make that decision. Please communicate this clearly with your organisation and give them as much notice as possible.  

     

    How can you help? 

    With the ongoing Covid-19/Coronavirus outbreak lots of people are offering their help to those who may be in need of assistance in these difficult times. If you are continuing to, or thinking about volunteering in person, Volunteer Edinburgh (Edinburgh's local volunteering centre) has created Guidance and FAQs for volunteers in light of Covid-19 - please read this carefully. 

     

    Supporting communities during Covid-19

    We are currently in the process of speaking to partners and will add relevant opportunities to the list below as we receive them.

     

    It is expected that foodbanks, community groups and those helping the elderly to be most in need and donating items or money to these groups could make an invaluable difference. Follow their social media and websites to see if and when they are looking to recruit volunteers. 

     

    Keep yourself safe while helping others - you must follow government guidelines!

     

    Here is a list of ways you can help your community:

    • Sign up to support the COVID-19 response through your local council, Volunteering Centre or food banks. For Edinburgh, check out:

    • Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK: find your local mutual aid group (for volunteering or for support for yourself)

    • Help cards to assist those self-isolating: download it and post it through people’s doors and help out with essential tasks such as bringing them food and medicine

    • Donate blood

    • FareShare: fighting hunger, tackling food waste

    • Red Cross Reserves

    • Cyrenians: OPAL (Older People Active Lives) team based in West Lothian are looking for 6 volunteers (don’t need to live in West Lothian) to make two phone calls a week to an older, isolated individual (comes with training). Please contact Emma Myhill at logistics@cyrenians.scot for more info.

    • Further information about helping your community can be found on the Ready Scotland website

     

    Volunteer from home 

    If you discontinue your physical volunteering, we’ve compiled a list of online volunteering opportunities to help you spend your time and continue to contribute and stay connected to communities:

    Online opportunities on Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Volunteering Hub  

    People Know How: supporting children, young people, adults and families

    United Nations Volunteers 

    Princes Trust Online Mentors 

    Help from Home: micro volunteering opportunities 

    LibriVox: read and record chapters of books 

    Translators without borders 

    Zooniverse: online research projects 

    Project Implicit 

    The Maturity of Baby Sounds: help us to better understand the very first stages of language learning 

    Be My Eyes: a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call 

    Action for insects: pledge to help insects 

    Run, Herring, Run!: count baby river herring as they head to sea! 

    Miss Maps: help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people 

    Floating Forrests: help us uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe 

    Instant Wild: online conservation work 

    Garden Birdwatch – British Trust for Ornithology 

    Star-Spotting: Natural History Museum 

     

    If you are aware of any others, let the Volunteering Service know, email volunteering@eusa.ed.ac.uk

     

    Let us know what you are doing

    We'd love to know what you have been/are doing to help others or the community during the coronavirus outbreak. Use the hashtag #edstudentsvolunteer or email volunteering@eusa.ed.ac.uk. Find out what the University community has been up to here.

     

    Remember to log your hours if you are volunteering

    Log your hours on the Volunteering Hub to get recognition for your volunteering. Take part in our Community Volunteer Award.

     

    Please note that the Volunteering Service is now working remotely and contactable via email only. 

  • Mon 10 Feb 2020 15:49

     

    Kai, 3rd year undergraduate student

     

    Volunteering has given me more than I have given. It opens up my perspective on so many things, the intrinsic sense of satisfaction I got from volunteering -- it’s just amazing. It leaves me thinking about how we could collectively make the world a better place.

    As a brief introduction to myself, I am Kai, currently a third year undergraduate student studying Electronics and Computer Science.  

     

    I first started volunteering in Edinburgh in December 2018. I volunteer with Linknet, an organisation which provides mentoring services to ethnic minorities in Edinburgh. After going through a training session, I am assigned to be a mentor to a Syrian refugee -- his name is Muhannad. This suits me as I am passionate about the refugee crisis, which back in my home country Malaysia is quite a critical issue as well. My task is to help him with his conversational English and to assist him in finding a job locally. 

     

    I meet with him once every week. During our meetings, we chat about general things. I help him build his CV and we apply for jobs together. He lacks confidence when speaking English. I play a role to correct his mistakes, but more importantly, reassuring him that he is doing really well. He was an aviation technician back in Syria, however we have a really hard time getting him a job here, even if it is just an entry level job.

     

    As weeks and months go by, we develop a good relationship. We talked about life, we shared each other’s culture and he told me about his journey from Syria to Edinburgh. Through these conversations, it gives me an insight on the privileges that I’ve been enjoying since I was young. Indeed, there is a very different part of the world out there.  

     

    Last year, I took up the role of Community Outreach Ambassador of the Volunteering Service. Our responsibility is to spread volunteering awareness among students. I speak to students about the volunteering opportunities we have in the university, as I truly appreciate what volunteering has given to me and hope to spread the joy. 

     

    We’ve always talked about how volunteering will help make a difference in the community. However, sometimes I can’t help but wonder, volunteering has in fact given me more than I have given. It opens up my perspective on so many things, the intrinsic sense of satisfaction I got from volunteering -- it’s just amazing. It leaves me thinking about how we could collectively make the world a better place. So why not try out something you are interested in, who knows how volunteering will affect you?

     

  • Thu 18 Jul 2019 10:26

     

    'As a mentor you will meet with a young person and build a positive relationship with them in order to support them to achieve their goals.'

    The Volunteering Service works with local and national volunteering providers to offer students activities to enrich their lives. Move On have an exciting new opportunity for students, as volunteer mentors. 

     

    'As a mentor you will meet with a young person and build a positive relationship with them in order to support them to achieve their goals. Goals are as varied and individual as young people themselves!

     

    Goals can be leisure or skill-based, such as learning to play guitar, boxing or cookery; employability-based such as researching and applying for employment, training and education opportunities; or a personal skill such as developing the confidence to order a cup of coffee independently or self-travel on the bus.

     

    Together you will plan how to achieve the goal and review progress they make.'

     

    You will receive full training, including Mental Health Awareness, Child Protection, Confidentiality, Boundaries and Goal Setting. 

     

    Apply now

     

  • Thu 04 Jul 2019 11:57

     

    ‘Students are a vital part of our social capital. Last year they contributed over 9,000 hours of volunteering to our project!'

     

    The Volunteering Service works with local and national volunteering providers to offer students activities to enrich their lives. We spoke with Jonny Kinross, Chief Executive at Grassmarket Community Project, about the work they do and how student volunteers have contributed.

     

    Grassmarket Community Project has been developed in partnership by Greyfriars Kirk (Church of Scotland) and the Grassmarket Mission. Jonny explains that ‘the two partners have been working alongside each other since 1982. Grassmarket Community Project takes an innovative approach to creating community and providing sanctuary and support to participants, many of whom are amongst the most vulnerable. Through mentoring, social enterprise, training and education in a nurturing environment, the Project develops skills which enable participants to develop to their full potential and move away from cycles of failure.’

     

    Grassmarket Community Project operates a community café, wordwork and tartan social enterprises. Jonny adds that ‘we offer a range of social integration and educational activities for members aimed at enhancing life skills and developing confidence. These include cookery and baking classes, art, drama, IT, reading and writing, sewing and photography. The project also offers a drop-in free meal service on a Monday from 5pm to 6:30pm which is open to anyone in the wider community but targeted at homeless people. We also offer free Benefits advice, haircuts and a free PET clinic.’

     

    Students have volunteered in different ways: long-term, regular, one-off opportunities such as a deep-clean of the community café or placements as social workers. Jonny says that ‘we couldn’t do what we do without students. We have students volunteer to attend our many residentials as well. They support our organisation in a huge number of ways and the hours they volunteer and the tasks they volunteer in are entirely up to the individual.’

     

    Though there have been challenges with a few students not being realistic and taking on too much, this is rare. Jonny explains that ‘students communicate a powerful message to our most vulnerable, namely they choose to be in their lives. Our members so often only meet two types of people – other service users and paid professionals. Student volunteers challenge this and say ‘you’re valued’ or ‘you’re worth it’ to people with very low self-esteem. This is a huge impact. Students bring a wonderful energy and outwardly looking perspective, they question and they encourage us to reflect – they are amazing.’

     

    ‘Students are a vital part of our social capital. Last year they contributed over 9,000 hours of volunteering to our project! In money terms (using the Living wage as a guide that’s over contribution of £80,000 each year to our charity!’

  • Tue 04 Jun 2019 17:14

     

    'One of the things I love about mentoring is how my mentee regularly surprises me and makes me laugh.'

     

     

    It's Volunteers' Week, a time to celebrate all the amazing work that volunteers do! Jasmin Contos, currently completing a PhD Philosophy, began volunteering with the YMCA and their Plusone Mentoring programme this year. Plusone Mentoring targets young people aged 8 – 14 who ‘have been identified as being "at-risk" in hopes of engaging them with their community and lowering their risk of offense.’ Jasmin explains that as a mentor, she has ‘committed a minimum of two hours a week spent with my mentee for the duration of the program, which is one year.’

     

    Jasmin had wanted to participate in a mentoring programme for a number of years. At the start of the year she felt she was ‘in the position to commit to the amount of time mentoring takes.’ Jasmin mentors an eleven year-old-boy and says that ‘we both benefit from my volunteering. However, the benefit has extended to many of the people with whom my mentee has relationships as well.’

     

    The role is fulfilling and she finds that Plusone’s Manager is inspiring to work with, ‘due to his ongoing excitement about and dedication to the organisation's mission.’

     

    Being a mentor has widened Jasmin’s perspective: ‘It's hard not to see things differently when you're hanging out with a kid regularly, which is good to have since we tend to get into a habit of viewing things from a single perspective.’ Volunteering is also an opportunity for Jasmin to take a break, especially important when working on a PhD. ‘It's easy to get wrapped up in school, work, and the like. When you're committed to spending at least a couple hours a week doing things with a young person, it’s a chance to bracket everything else and just focus on having a good time.’

     

    Jasmin advises students interested in volunteering to research and find ‘something that is well-suited both to your interests and your availability. It's less likely to help others if your volunteering doesn't stimulate your interests or causes you stress.’

     

    When asked about a standout moment Jasmin, like many volunteers, says it’s hard to pick just one. ‘We have had some incredible times. One of the things I love about mentoring is how my mentee regularly surprises me and makes me laugh; he is unique and has an endless supply of antics.’

     

  • Fri 31 May 2019 13:48

     

    'Volunteers at the University of Edinburgh have made a huge difference in 2018/19'

     

    Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June) is a national celebration of the diversity of volunteers who engage in community life through tackling social and environmental challenges and supporting causes.

     

    Here are just a few of the things volunteers at the University of Edinburgh have been up to in the 2018/19 Academic year:

     

    Katie Ross and Marie Gallagher, both Veterinary students coordinated The Royal Dick Christmas Bag Appeal. They organise collecting bags of food, clothing and toiletries to be distributed among the homeless and rough sleepers on the streets of Edinburgh.

     

    Sexpression: UK provided informative, inclusive and judgment-free information about sex and relationships to young people.

     

    8 Team Leaders and Volunteering Ambassadors led 24 one-off volunteering opportunities in the community, volunteering 104.5 hours.

     

     

     

     

    Saffron Roberts, the founder of Period Poverty University of Edinburgh, worked widely as an activist for ending period poverty and stigmas around menstruation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Classics Society organised outreach to local primary schools, running workshops and lessons in Archaeology, Latin, Greek and Ancient History.

     

     

     

    The Edinburgh Archaeology Outreach Project held regular school visits and the annual Family Fun Day in March at Grassmarket Community Project.

     

     

     

     

     

    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.

     

     

     

     

    Angga Fauzan volunteered in Edinburgh and also made a difference in Boyolali city, Indonesia with Boyolali Bergerak, a mentoring organisation that they founded and lead.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Anushka Pathak and Elizabeth Lim run an interactive performance of simulated brain surgery, featuring state-of-the-art surgical technology, Neurotheatre - Simulated Brain Surgery.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Best Buddies organise a social club for adults with learning disabilities. They volunteered over 290 hours through their welcoming social space for adults in the local community. They also provided activities at the free club night and subsidised trips.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Dirty Weekenders provided practical conservation work and ran weekly projects helping local community green spaces, woodlands and a care home. Some of the activities included planting wildflowers, removing rubbish and invasive plants.

     

     

     

     

    Teddy Bear Hospital Edinburgh taught children about health and healthcare. They expanded their outreach to older children and have been consistently invited back each year from several schools.

     

    Edinburgh Music Outreach Society connected music students to local hospitals and care homes. EMOS planned a special visit to Ashley Court Care Home to perform music for the residents and from that positive experience, there were return visits.

     

    Children’s Holiday Venture (CHV) organised activities for disadvantaged local children. They held regular CHV nights, including a trampolining night that was requested. These activities allowed kids to improve their social and communication skills whilst boosting confidence.

     

    Foreign Language Outreach (FLO) offered early learning of French, Spanish and Italian. 37 students facilitated teaching French, Spanish or Italian to children in primary schools around Edinburgh.

     

    NiHao China (Formerly Mandarin Language Project) shared Mandarin language and culture.   Students facilitated teaching Mandarin language and culture in primary schools in Midlothian and East Lothian.

     

    Patient Outreach Project (POP) interacted with elderly patients and ran weekly visits to care homes and hospitals, with some student volunteers developing friendships with certain patients and revisiting them every week.

     

     

  • Tue 21 May 2019 10:19

     

    'Community Councils bring local people together to help make things happen.'

     

     

    The Volunteering Service works with local and national volunteering providers to offer students activities to enrich their lives. We spoke with Russell Salton from Juniper Green and Baberton Mains Community Council in the south-west of Edinburgh about the work it does and how student volunteers have contributed.

     

    Russell explained that, ‘A Community Council is a voluntary organisation set up by statute by the Local Authority and run by local residents to act on behalf of its area. It is the most local tier of elected representation.  Community Councils bring local people together to help make things happen, and to protect and promote the identity of their community. They advise, petition, influence and advocate numerous causes and cases of concern on behalf of local communities.’

     

    A ‘enthusiastic and knowledgeable’ student volunteer is currently developing a website as the old one is ‘fairly inflexible and becoming unreliable. As one of our members is blind, we want to ensure that the website is accessible.’ 

     

    This student has contributed, ‘largely in the form of discussions around the structure of the website and what it should contain, what needs transferred and what should be archived.’

     

    Juniper Green and Baberton Mains Community Council looks for volunteers who are experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic to help with the development of its website.

     

    Volunteer with Juniper Green and Baberton Mains Community Council
    http://www.junipergreencc.org.uk/   

     

  • Tue 14 May 2019 15:59

     

    'A moment of your time can benefit others, whether it be personally or professionally.'

     

     

    The Volunteering Service works with local and national volunteering providers to offer students activities to enrich their lives. We spoke with Catherine Rodgers, a Primary Education Honours student, who has volunteered in primary schools.  

     

    Catherine has been volunteering since 2017 at Springfield Primary School in West Lothian, Edinburgh and as Saint Thomas’ Primary in Riddrie, Glasgow.

     

    Her motivation was ‘helping children who struggled with their literacy/numeracy skills and needed additional support within the classroom. This allowed me to put into practice what I have been taught whilst doing my degree and in turn learning to be agile in my approach to a wide variety of needs and abilities.’

     

    Catherine has found her experience rewarding. She explains that ‘a moment of your time can benefit others, whether it be personally or professionally.’

     

    She advises other students interested in volunteering to ‘have a look online or at your University campus as there are lots of diverse volunteering opportunities you can get involved in whether it relates to your career or not.’

     

     

  • Fri 26 Apr 2019 10:14

     

    'Everyone in the committee is amazing and work tirelessly to make every school visit and even the best it can be.'

     

     

    The Student Awards were held this month and we’re celebrating the wonderful work of the nominated students. Edinburgh Archaeology Outreach Project (EAOP) were nominated for the 'Contribution to the Local Community' Award. Group Leader Synnøve Gravdal Heimvik wrote these responses about the work of their volunteering society and their experience.

     

    Tell us about EAOP.
    EAOP was formed in 2013 and became an official Students' Association Volunteering Society  in 2014. The society aims to provide children in and wider communities in Edinburgh with a free experience and insight into a subject that before may have been closed to them, and through the project we hope that an interest in local heritage, history, and archaeology will be ignited.

    Our main form of community outreach is through school visits, where we will run a session where we try and get kids exited about archaeology through games and activities. We also try and relate our session with whatever topic the class is currently learning about, so for instance, we did several Viking themed visits last semester.

    Although EAOP is centred mainly around Archaeology we love to have a diverse group of volunteers, so everyone is welcomed no matter what course you are doing or what year you are in.

     

     

    When did you start?
    I started volunteering for EAOP during my first year of University, am I now in my third year so I have been with the society for two years.

     

    What is your role?
    I am currently the president. Although it can be a stressful at times, I really enjoy the challenge. Everyone in the committee is amazing and work tirelessly to make every school visit and even the best it can be.

     

    Who benefits form your work?
    The children that we teach in our school visits are perhaps the people who benefit most form our work as we aim to introduce a new topic to them in a fun and interesting way. It also gives them a greater understanding of their heritage and history, which may of them are not very aware of. Through our larger events anyone in the Edinburgh community is welcome to attend and we aim to bring the same experience we deliver in the classroom to a larger audience. Many adults are equally as interested in archaeology and heritage as the children.

    The volunteers also benefit, as it allows for then to interact with the community, it also gives then valuable volunteering and outreach skills something that is very important in modern archaeology. EAOP is also a great way for students to utilise the things that they are learning in class in real life, and it is a great way to meet new people and likeminded students.

     

    How have you found the experience of volunteering in the community?
    I have only had positive experiences when volunteering in the community. Everyone I have encountered are excited to learn more about archaeology from kids to adults. As an international student I has been a very educational experience as well as it has given me great insight into Scottish everyday life.

     

    Is there a moment that stands out for you?
    I cannot think of a specific moment that stands out to me, but every time a kid comes up to me after a school visits and tell me that they want to become and archaeologist when they grow up makes me really happy. It is such a lovely feeling knowing that the children actually pay attention to what you are saying and really get engaged with the subject.

     

     

     

    What have you gained from this experience?
    I have gained valuable volunteering, outreach and organisational skills by volunteering with EAOP. I have also gained an immense appreciation for the work teacher do on a daily basis, as I can get tired after only a few hours in a class.

    Besides our regular school visits, we host at least one larger event each year. We held our now annual Family Fun Day in March at Grassmarket Community Project. There was be a range of archaeology themed activities, such as dig pits, iron age jewellery making, and an opportunity to handle reals archaeological artefacts and 4000-year-old animal bones. 

     

    Images courtesy of Synnøve Gravdal Heimvik

  • Thu 25 Apr 2019 14:04

     

    'We are so thankful as a society to them and so grateful that they are willing to give up their time and to help us contribute to the local community.'

     

    The Student Awards were held this month and we’re celebrating the wonderful work of the nominated students. The Classics Society were nominated for the 'Contribution to the Local Community' Award. President Isabella Stevens-Mulroe was nominated in two categories, Outstanding Contribution to the Student Experience and Student Leadership Awards, winning the former! Isabella wrote these responses about the work of the Classics Society. 

     

    When did you start?
    Last February I organised the society’s first outreach event as part of my role as the Charity and Outreach Officer. This was a ‘Classics Workshop’ for Gylemuir Primary School which allowed two P6 classes to have lessons in Ancient Greek, Ancient History and Archaeology.

    Gylemuir had been one of the schools that the Classics Departments ‘Literacy through Latin’ programme was working with at the time. This was an outreach project, in accordance with the Iris Project (a Classics Charity) that enables Edinburgh Classics Students to teach Latin at local primary schools who did not teach it as part of their curriculum. I took part in this programme and taught at Gylemuir once a week throughout the year. 

    At the end of last year (April 2018) Dr Pelttari, who had been coordinating this Literacy through Latin programme asked the Classics Society to take it over which we were delighted to do.

    Our current Charity and Outreach Officer, Kishan Mistry, was then charged with organising and coordinating the Literacy through Latin programme this academic year. This involved putting together a team of volunteers to teach at the schools, contacting local schools to see if they would like to participate in it, compiling teaching resources and securing funding.

    Teaching started in September and will carry on until April. I have continued to volunteer for this programme and am now teaching at Liberton Primary School once a week. 

     

    What is your role?
    I am the current President of the Classics Society. Last year I was the Charity and Outreach Officer. 
     

    Who benefits from your work?
    The children at the two schools we teach at are the primary beneficiaries. This is because Latin and Classics are not part of the National Curriculum in Scotland meaning that these pupils would not have the chance to learn about the Ancient World or learn Latin without our outreach programme, as their schools do not have the resources to teach it. Learning Latin improves and develops their grammar and literacy skills through an unfamiliar and exciting subject; thus engaging them in new and challenging ways. Moreover, through events such as the Classics Workshops and by being able to interact with Edinburgh University students, the pupils are also able to gain an insight into the university experience. Furthermore, pupils who may or may not be interested in other humanities subjects, might be encouraged to pursue Classics later in their academic career through the exposure they have had to the subject. 

    The volunteers themselves also benefit both in terms of gaining valuable teaching experience and also because it gives them a chance to give back to society. Latin and Classics have traditionally been viewed as the preserve of private schools, but through this outreach work we have been able to challenge and overcome this elitism: enabling the children to engage with the ancient world and learn new skills. This is something that all of us are very passionate about as we believe that Classics and the skills and benefits it involves, should be accessible to all. 


    How have you found the experience of volunteering in the community?
    I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering in the local community. I participated in the Literacy through Latin project when it was run by the department as well as this year, so I have now spent two years teaching Latin, both of which I have found incredibly rewarding. The children I have taught have been very enthusiastic and it has been a pleasure to watch them pick up the grammar and the cultural aspects that we cover in the lessons and see their confidence develop as a result. The teachers have also been very helpful and supportive of the outreach work. Furthermore, the teams of volunteers I have worked with in the programme have also been very positive and excited about their work, which has helped to make the experience so enjoyable. 

    Is there a moment that stands out for you?
    I think it is whenever a pupil who has struggled to grapple with some of the new and strange grammar suddenly understands it and is able to translate a Latin sentence into English or vice-versa. From going to no knowledge of Latin to doing this, based on only one-hour lessons per week, is an incredible achievement.

    The first workshop we held was also an very memorable day as I was worried about how it would all run and how the schoolchildren and staff would receive it. So watching the children enjoy the tasks they were set as they learnt about Ancient Greek etc felt very rewarding, especially when the staff said that they had also enjoyed the day and would happily participate in another workshop.

    What have you gained from this experience?
    I have developed my teaching and communicating abilities through the lessons. However, most importantly I feel like I have really contributed to my pupils’ academic experience and have done something worthwhile with the skills and education I was fortunate enough to receive at school and at university.  


    Anything else to add?
    Just that our members, particularly the volunteers,  have been so enthusiastic and supportive of this outreach work. We are so thankful as a society to them and so grateful that they are willing to give up their time and to help us contribute to the local community. The  committee has also been amazing and it has been a real team effort this year to ensure that we do the best job we can in terms of this outreach work. I also want to say that Kishan Mistry, our Charity and Outreach Officer, has been exceptional in his role. He has balanced the large amount of time and work that is required for our outreach work to be successful, with his own studies and has gone above and beyond in all of his tasks.