Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Volunteering - Benefits All Round!

Recently I attended a seminar by the Clore Social Leadership Programme. 2011 Chlore Social Fellow Laura Hyde, has worked in the student movement for a number of years and reported on the “Strengths of the Student Movement and its Relationship with the Voluntary Sector”. 
Preparations for the tea party

It quickly became apparent to me that what I have known to be true since starting my job as RUSU President, is now being expressed quite eloquently in her report.
She writes: “Students’ Unions are amazing organisations doing some excellent work, having a significant impact on individuals and wider society – they just need to tell more people!”
A truer statement has never been uttered. RUSU (and by ‘RUSU’ I don’t just mean the five Student Officers and RUSU staff. I mean the thousands of students who are engaged in a huge number of ways) is an amazing organisation.
I could use this blog to describe in vast amounts of detail, exactly what is great about everything we do, such as our advice service, our commercial services, our brand new lettings agency and, of course, our representative function. However, I am going to talk about volunteering as this is very fitting to the findings of Laura’s report.

RUSU runs a wide variety of volunteering opportunities for students. These provide you with the opportunity to get to know the area you live in, acquire key transferable skills and fundamentally enhance your university experience, whilst supporting and benefiting the local community. It is always a great pleasure for the Student Officers to talk about students’ involvement in volunteering when we meet with members of the local community.

Here is an outline of just a few of the great volunteering activities that RUSU has been involved with recently:
  • 708 students have signed up to receive a weekly volunteering newsletter updating them of new opportunities to build links with the community and develop personally. This is a 250% increase on the number of students signed up last year.
  • An amazing £4,342.09 was raised by RAG (Raising and Giving) in the first 9 weeks of this term.
  • 50 local elderly residents will be attending a Christmas tea party catered for by our Baking Society with decorations made by the Domestic Do It Yourself Society (RUDDIYS). Entertainment will also be provided by our very own Dance, Breakdance, Tap and Modern, Gospel, Music and Swing Dance Societies. This event is a great collaboration between volunteering and societies.
  • An on campus a 'Uni Bike,' bike hire scheme has launched with five bikes already having been hired out and new ones being donated from the local community.
  • The Baking Society have been cooking with the residents at the local 'Lakeside Care Home' every Wednesday afternoon during term.
  • The Community Choir has succesfully performed three concerts since September and will be celebrating its first anniversary in February 2013.
  • A Homework Club has been started at a local Primary school with an average of 10 children attending each week.
As you can see, RUSU is hugely benefitting the voluntary sector within Reading and the wider community and we encourage as many students as possible to take part in these and other exciting volunteering opportunities.

If you are looking to personally develop as well as make good friends and meet new people, please consider volunteering. We as a Students' Union will provide you with lots of support and you never know, you could even get to see yourself in the local press as has previously happened!

If you wish to find out more about the opportunities available, pop into the Student Activities Centre in the RUSU building.

James Fletcher
RUSU President

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