Why I love volunteering

Mia Ainsley

This week marks National Student Volunteering Week, which is a pivotal aspect of the wider student experience at Durham. In this blog, I will outline how you could get involved in volunteering, my personal experience with volunteering and why I would recommend allocating some time to support the charities and associations with which Durham works closely.

How do I get involved?

Durham University is passionate about giving back to our community and therefore promotes many different forums through which students can volunteer. These include college projects, department initiatives, societies and Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach (DUSVO). Most of these options also offer a versatile range of ways through which students can manage their time when volunteering, from one-off events to more long-term projects. This is a real benefit of volunteering at Durham, as you can control to what extent you manage your time. Whether you are able to give a little, or a lot, the positive impact you will have on somebody else’s life because of the sacrifices you make when donating your own time and resources to volunteering, will be just as lasting.

What projects have I been involved in?

Being in my second year at university, I have already got involved in a lot of volunteering projects. Last year, I participated in my college’s Charity Fashion Show in aid of BEAT, an organisation which supports those battling an eating disorder. Most colleges will put on an annual charity fashion show which is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year, here at Durham. Fashion shows are student lead projects, which means that there are so many distinctive roles to choose from. From publicity and sponsorship to modelling on the catwalk or simply buying a ticket to watch, these events always raise a lot of funds for a worthy cause and are generally great ways to meet new people and try something different outside of your studies.

Furthermore, I also participated in the DUCK (Durham University Charity Kommittee) colour run in my first year in order to raise money for Women International and specifically to support the work they were doing to help women and children fleeing the Ukraine conflict. Combining sports and volunteering is a popular initiative and whether you are sporty or simply want to try something different, like I did, then looking out for these opportunities can make for an excellent one-off event.

Visiting my old school

The 93% is another important organisation which I have loved working with whilst at Durham. They provide lots of resources and information to students from state education to help ease the transition to higher education and beyond. Last year I was able to give a presentation at my old secondary school to encourage students from state school backgrounds to apply to university because of my outreach work for the club.

Language outreach

Finally, this year I am the project coordinator for my department’s language outreach initiative. Most departments will have their own outreach projects and if you are passionate about your subject then this is a fantastic way to volunteer whilst also doing what you love. This has been a more long-term commitment for me but nonetheless one that I have enjoyed dedicating so much of my time and effort to supporting. So far, I have organised, facilitated and lead many events for schools within the North East in partnership with Durham University, in order to promote and encourage the importance of learning a language. Not only is this a really rewarding role, but it also allows me to develop my own leadership and creativity skills within my academic discipline.

Where do I start?

It’s hard to know where or how to start. Yet, being a student at Durham takes away those obstacles and makes volunteering so easy. I will leave a list of resources below which can act as a starting point for you if you are yet to volunteer and feel inspired to give a little back in order to make a lifelong difference.

Discover more

About volunteering at Durham here

Visit the DUSVO website here

Durham University Charity Kommittee (DUCK) here

Mia Ainsley

Hi! I am Mia, a third year Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC) student at Durham University. From the north east & a very proud member of Josephine Butler College. When I am not studying for my degree, you can probably find me taking part in some of Durham's societies. I am one of the project coordinators for MLAC Outreach society, a member of the 93% club and hoping to join yoga soon too!

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