The University is celebrating the impact of student volunteering for National Student Volunteering Week.
National Student Volunteering Week (20 - 27 February 2017) is a national campaign supporting student volunteering activity, encouraging students to develop their skills, and promotes opportunities to get involved in local communities.
The University has one of the biggest volunteering programmes in the country: every year 3,500 students volunteer across a wide range of local community groups, including 150 local charities.
One of the main initiatives – Students into Schools – has around 400 students currently on board. Volunteers involved in this scheme, which promotes outreach activity to raise aspiration in the region’s schools, give the equivalent of 443 weeks of classroom support every year.
“Our student community consistently demonstrates huge affection and pride for the city and broader region and the time they spend here,” says Greg Miller, who leads student volunteering at the University.
“They are strong global advocates for Leeds and Yorkshire, and volunteering is one way that they give back to the community they love.
“Students are strongly motivated by the causes they volunteer for. As a university we also want our students to be prepared for the world of work, and we help them achieve this through developing personal and professional skills as part of their time with us, which volunteering may be a part of.”
Showcasing students' volunteering
Ellie Phillips, a third year International Development student, volunteers with Leeds branch of Student Action for Refugees - STAR - a national charity of 26,000 volunteers campaigning to improve the lives of refugees.
Ellie said: "We run conversation classes at community centres in Leeds on different topics such as health and shopping. The classes have a practical focus. But also, we hope, offer friendship and help with confidence building. Many of us have been motivated by the refugee crisis and want to help, particularly locally in Leeds.”
Jazibah Ziarab, a Theology and Religious Studies student, has become a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust in recognition of her journey from mentee to mentor on a prestigious mentoring programme.
She has been balancing her studies with supporting pupils at Horton Grange Primary School in Bradford through a special Primary School mentoring programme.
Led by Mosaic, a mentoring initiative of The Prince’s Trust founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007, the primary school programme mainly focuses on girls and mothers from disadvantaged communities, aiming to raise aspirations and broaden expectations of what’s possible in adult life.
Jazibah is one of many volunteers up and down the country who give up their time to mentor pupils on the programme.
Her story is particularly significant as she has become the first former mentee of Mosaic to begin work as a mentor, having been mentored herself through Mosaic’s Secondary School programme when she was in Year 10 at Belle Vue Girls’ School, also in Bradford.
The University works closely with Leeds University Union (LUU) to offer students opportunities.
“Volunteering is something that produces lasting benefits for those who take part and for the recipients,” says Taiwo Ogunyinka, Activities Officer at LUU.
“For many communities, volunteers provide vital support and help to develop the sustainability of organisations and causes often set up to help the most vulnerable in our society.
“Plus through volunteering people often gain valuable skills, traits and experience, learn more about the world around them and are able to understand and empathise more with the experiences of others."
The Union is promoting opportunities throughout the week, including a Spring Volunteering Fair on Wednesday 22 February to encourage even more students to volunteer.
Leeds alumni also play a vital role in the volunteering life of the University.
The Enterprise Ambassadors Scheme sees alumni returning to Leeds and volunteering to help improve current students' skills and employability.
Roohi Lupton, Supporter Volunteering Officer in the Alumni team at the University, said: "Our alumni's contribution to our learning and teaching and business start-up support programmes is invaluable.
"They help develop a real entrepreneurial spirit in our students and give students a chance to develop enterprise skills above and beyond their University education."
Students can find out more about volunteering opportunities.
Others wishing to offer volunteering opportunities or offer student placements should email Josephine Hargreaves on J.Hargreaves@leeds.ac.uk.