Bristol celebrates the impact of student volunteers as part of national campaign

Issue date: 23 February 2015

A student volunteer helps and elderly lady during 'Creative Club'

Students at UWE Bristol are joining a national campaign to celebrate the impact that students create in their communities through volunteering.

Research by the National Union of Students (NUS) estimates that 725,000 students volunteer for an average of 44 hours a year. This is the equivalent contribution to the UK economy of £175 million.

In Bristol, students at the University are celebratingStudent Volunteering Week (23 February-1 March)with a range of activities and awareness raising events.

At Frenchay Campus on Monday, UWE volunteers will be running their weekly Creative Club. An opportunity for students to deliver creative workshops that benefit people with learning and physical disabilities from the local community.

One of the student's involved last term said, “I found Creative Club to be a real enjoyment week after week. As volunteers we were presented with new challenges every week, but you do feel a real sense of fulfilment, knowing that you might have made one of the participant's day even if you just sat there and watched them draw and be creative. I think that's the most amazing thing about this project, seeing how excited everyone is when they arrive. It shows how much this means to them and what a difference you can make.”

Also running on Monday is another creative project, UWE Volunteering's Art Class for over 55s at Arts West Side. UWE students plan and deliver art lessons, sharing their passion for art whilst enhancing the lives of older people and reducing isolation.

A student volunteer from last term's sessions said, “I felt that the experience gave me more confidence as an artist and certainly more drive to engage in applied arts further in my career. It was really exciting to see the responses of the service users and to get to know them, listen to their stories.”

'Silver Surfers' runs on Wednesday, with student volunteers leading this project to help older people reduce the digital divide by tutoring them in basic IT skills.

One student volunteer said, “I chose to volunteer for 'Silver Surfers' to strengthen my CV with evidence of communication and IT skills and to meet new people. It's not hard work, you just turn up and spend time with an older person showing them basic IT skills. I definitely enjoyed it.”

'Silvers Surfers' across the city have benefitted hugely from this popular scheme, since it began in 2007.

One 'Silver Surfer' commented, “The sessions have been delightful, informative, welcoming and markedly useful. All the students deserve commendation for their time, effort and friendliness.”

Wednesday is also National Good Deed Day. UWESU will be encouraging students to pledge a good deed - from doing their housemates' washing up, to finally getting round to giving blood.

Throughout the week students will also be out volunteering in local schools, as Reading Buddies, Number Partners and Classroom Assistants. This year over 200 students have volunteered in local schools through UWE's Schools Volunteering Programme.

Finally on Saturday, UWE's GreenSpace group will be supporting a conservation action day at Sims Hill Community Woodland.

Helen Stevens, Operations Coordinator for UWE Volunteering, said, “Volunteering is a fantastic way for students to gain valuable skills and experience whilst having fun and making a real difference in the local community. Student Volunteering Week is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the contributions of UWE Volunteers and say a big thank you to them all for their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment.”

Student Volunteering Week is coordinated by Student Hubs and the National Union of

Students. If you would like to find out more about Student Volunteering Week at UWE Bristol visit UWE Volunteering and UWESU Volunteering for more details.

Follow the national conversation on Twitter during Student Volunteering Week with the hashtag #SVW2015

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