Before coming to Durham, I didn’t really engage in the Volunteering sector – I had no idea what opportunities were available to me and how to best get involved. However, everything changed when one of my best friends and I were elected as the Volunteering Officers for our college! Suddenly, my eyes were opened to the multitude of projects and events that were available to take part in at Durham and I have never looked back.
College projects and university projects
Volunteering at Durham can be split two ways – College Projects and University Projects. As the Volunteering Officer, my role is to think of, organise, and carry out volunteering opportunities for everyone to get involved in. This can be anything that I want, but one highlight this year has been a gardening project that involved transforming the garden at St Chad’s College!
Another project that I loved organising was helping out at the Christmas market of a local primary school. Both were great fun! However, the part of the role that I’ve enjoyed the most has been liaising with the charities that we work with, hearing what they want, and making it happen! With these sorts of projects, it is immensely rewarding to see everything fit into place and seeing everyone have so much fun during the activities. In all, the College Volunteering system is certainly something unique to Durham!
What about volunteering outside of College?
However, Volunteering at Durham is much more than College-organised projects! There are over 50 student-led community projects available to join at Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach (far more commonly known as DUSVO).
These projects are full of variety! There are one-off opportunities that can even take you round the world, such as the Think Pacific project, which involves volunteering in Fiji with their Ministry of Health. I particularly love the regular projects that you can get involved with – and there is one for any kind of interest! If you are interested in working with children in the future, you could consider one of the many tutoring projects that are on offer. Alternatively, there is volunteering at Durham Cathedral, something that I am incredibly keen to begin doing.
And most importantly, volunteering projects are incredibly easy to join. It’s as simple as signing up to the volunteering platform and joining an opportunity – the only requirements you may face are a DBS or an online pre-requisite course. Personally, I have found joining projects to be incredibly accessible – it’s a really simple process. It also means that I can tailor my volunteering time around my studies by joining projects that become available during my free time.
So why volunteer?
I could write my dissertation twice over about why I volunteer. One of the main reasons why is that it makes me feel a greater part of the community that I live in – both the University and the Durham community. Additionally, although being College Volunteering Officer takes a lot of work and dedication, I am so glad for the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made doing it. Attending the Durham Volunteering Awards with those friends was also an amazing experience (and the food, unbeatable).
Finally, volunteering at Durham has certainly built up my confidence. Although my time as Volunteering Officer is almost over, I feel confident enough to take part in new projects to fill the time I’ve gained instead!
Find out more about volunteering at Durham here
Visit the DUSVO website here
Explore all our colleges here