Anyone who knows me could probably testify that I really throw myself into university extra-curriculars, and volunteering with Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach (DUSVO). It has undoubtedly been one of the most valuable and rewarding activities I’ve got involved with consistently during my degree.
Loads of opportunities
Throughout sixth form, I always enjoyed volunteering because it was easy and accessible to do and had a beneficial impact on local groups. I was then lucky enough to go to Durham, which has such a vast range of volunteering opportunities – over 40 individual projects in DUSVO alone, which meant I could really explore what sort of volunteering I was interested in.
Alongside my degree, I have been a Beyond Food ambassador for my college in first year, a volunteer for one of DUSVO’s largest social inclusion projects, CATSS Primary (a project that provides respite for primary school kids from hard to reach backgrounds) for two years, and project coordinator for CATTS Primary this year. As well as directly volunteering, I also sat on the DUSVO student-elected executive committee as Social Inclusion chair in my second year, helping over 18 social inclusion projects get up and running during covid to the best of their ability, alongside contributing to the improvement of student volunteering as a whole with the rest of the amazing exec.
Annual volunteering awards
All this experience has resulted in the honour of being shortlisted for the Longstanding Volunteer Award at this year’s annual volunteering awards, The event is held after exams to celebrate the hard work and commitment of our wonderful student volunteers, and one of the biggest events in the DUSVO calendar. The Awards celebrate both individual volunteers and volunteering projects, so there are plenty of opportunities for students’ efforts to be recognised.
All nominations are from students about their peers, they are then shortlisted, and the winners are announced at the award ceremony. They are often held at an external venue; this year they’re at the Radisson Hotel in Durham City! Whilst the awards alone are worth going for, the event always involves food and entertainment, so overall makes for a very worthwhile evening out.
From a personal perspective, this is the first time I will have attended because of the pandemic impacting the majority of my university experience, and therefore I cannot wait to celebrate the hard work of our student volunteering community in person, and get to mingle with other volunteers. It is a lovely way to round off the end of the year, giving student volunteers the recognition they deserve for all the invaluable support they provide for the local community.
Very rewarding experience
These experiences at university have really helped affirm for me why I volunteer. It’s not only a great way of developing highly employable skills but also helps build strong bridges between the students and the local community. My experience working with children as a part of CATSS has been incredibly rewarding, meeting kids from the local area and watching them grow in confidence. It’s not only been so much fun participating in all the crazy activities we put on for the kids, but it’s wonderful knowing you’ve been a role model for them, and nothing beats them telling you that you’ve inspired them to conquer a fear or to try something new! Volunteering has equally been a great way to meet like-minded people. Just by the nature of the sort of people volunteering attracts, you couldn’t find yourself a lovelier, more selfless community to be involved with! It is undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I have done at university and couldn’t recommend it to new and existing students enough.
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