Issue date: 04 March 2004

ISSUE DATE: 04/03/04

A group of 15 students from the University of the West of England will be swapping their course books and computers for cleaning tools and paintbrushes as part of a project to help a local charity turn a derelict workshop into a drop-in centre for use by adults with learning disabilities.

The group will be giving up their Sunday lie-in to carry out a ‘Changing Rooms’ style makeover on the derelict workshop to turn it into a usable space for the Bristol-based charity, the Aspects and Milestones Trust. The Trust, which provides a range of support services for people with physical and learning disabilities, is soon to launch an employability skills scheme to help people with learning disabilities to find paid work and the renovated space will become their new drop-in training centre.

The students who are studying subjects ranging from engineering to drama will be cleaning, clearing and painting at the premises in Fishponds on Sunday 7 March. The Action Day has been organised as part of the University’s Community Volunteer Programme, which aims to get students involved positively in their local communities working with charities, community groups, schools and other organisations. This particular group will be volunteering for a total of six hours, to work on cleaning and repainting the workshop, ready for it to be fitted out later in the Spring.

Ian Ballantyne, a final year student in cultural and media studies, is one of the students taking part in the day. He says, “I’m looking forward to it. I live in Fishponds, as do many other students from UWE and it gives us the chance to get to know the community a bit better and do our bit. These one-off days are a good way to give students a taste of volunteering and might encourage them to take on a more long-term voluntary placement. I’ve volunteered on the management committee of a local charity for the last two years and, as well as helping them, its given me a real insight into the voluntary sector and will be really useful experience for my career.”

The University has a wide range of community volunteering activities with students helping with projects from mentoring vulnerable young people to local conservation work. Community Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator, Steve Dale, says he believes the students have a lot to offer, “Students bring enthusiasm, energy and a fresh eye to this type of project. Through projects like this we’ll show how keen they can be to make a real contribution to the areas in which they live and study. Not only do these Action Days help a local charity to make its money go further, but it’s great experience for our students”.


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