Durham has always taken pride in its wide range of volunteering opportunities and large number of student and staff volunteers. To commend and celebrate the outstanding efforts of these volunteers and recognize the diversity within volunteering at Durham and the impact it has on the local community, a volunteer awards presentation is held every year. This year, the event, which included a dinner buffet, was held on 13 June in Radisson Blu Hotel. As the Events Officer of Durham University Student Volunteering Outreach (DUSVO), a student-led and community-focussed organisation that offers all Durham students a unique volunteering experience, I was part of the working group that organised the event.
During the event, a total of eighteen awards were presented. To name a few, the ‘college of the year’ award was presented to Van Mildert College; the ‘team of the year’ award was presented to Young Person’s Project; the ‘best new volunteering project’ award was presented to Parkside School Project. The event had around 200 attendees, including Ms. Sue Snowdon, the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, and Ms. Sam Barlow, who founded Fitmums and Friends, a charitable athletics club, and received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year’s Unsung Hero 2021 Award. One of the highlights of the event was Ms. Barlow’s inspiring speech. She shared with us how her unfortunate loss of her husband motivated her to transform many more lives by launching a programme of walking and yoga sessions for adults and an outdoor activity project for children. We were all impressed with Ms. Barlow turning her bereavement into something so positive and meaningful.
A rewarding experience
I must confess that despite being an exec member of DUSVO, I have never participated in any volunteering projects at Durham. Nevertheless, having attended the volunteering awards presentation, I am now determined to participate in a volunteering project next academic year. During the event, a lot of volunteering projects were introduced as they or their leaders were nominated for different awards. The introduction of these projects made me realise how diverse, interesting and meaningful they were. The diversity enabled volunteers with different interests to enjoy themselves while volunteering. For instance, Beyond Boundaries, the winner of ‘best social inclusion effort’, was appealing to those who liked animals, including myself, as volunteers had the opportunity to visit Fowl Green Farm to socialise and interact with people with disabilities and learning difficulties.
I encourage all Durham students who want to make the most of their university life to undertake a volunteering project. Given the huge diversity of the projects, there is certainly one that suits you. Although I am not a volunteer, I can tell from the excitement of volunteers when they introduced their volunteering projects to one another during the volunteer awards presentation that volunteering is really rewarding and enjoyable. It is also a perfect way to make new friends, connect with the local community and enrich your experience at Durham. If you’re interested in knowing what volunteering projects are available, make sure you check out the Instagram page of DUSVO. You are also most welcome to start your own volunteering project!
About DUSVO here
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