Students have a long history of being an incredibly powerful and valuable resource when it comes to supporting the voluntary sector and local communities.
As former students ourselves, we know that the typical student stereotype – ‘lazy binge drinkers who just don’t care’ – really isn’t as widespread as people might think.
But now, research from NUS to coincide with Student Volunteering Week 2014 includes data that proves it: nearly a third of students volunteer for c. 44 hours a year!
So, when Here To was approached by City University to support their Student Volunteering Week on campus, we jumped at the chance to reinforce the message that students are a positive force for social good to the people of Islington!
How did we help?
Firstly, we opened up our ‘little black book’ and connected the City University team to 2 of our most popular projects: the Saturday Night Project and the Finsbury & Clerkenwell Volunteers lunch club. These were added to the volunteering schedule for the week for students to sign up to and, as a result, 20 City University students helped out across these two opportunities.
Here To also ran an activity at the Student Union for SWV 2014. Aiming to spread so-called ‘random acts of kindness’ and to connect students to people in Islington they might not usually meet, we enabled students to tap into their creative side with a bit of Community Card-making.
‘What’s Community Card-making?!’ we hear you cry. Simply: it’s spending a small amount of time and effort making a card for someone you do not know that will bring some happiness to their day.
Here’s a brief guide…
…and some City University students making their cards!
The national SVW 2014 campaign even got behind the idea, and included Community Card-making as one of their 50 Good Deeds on Facebook!
After making the cards, we joined another group of City University students the following day at the Everleigh Street Community Garden. In between painting benches and cutting back overgrown bushes, a couple of students joined us to deliver the batch of brightly coloured envelopes to unsuspecting Islington residents.
It was all very exciting!
To explain the initiative, we put some stickers on the back of the cards that also invited people to respond if they wanted to.
We weren’t too hopeful, so were pleasantly surprised to receive the following letter a week later:
It just goes to show how easy it is to connect with people outside your own immediate network or area, and how small gestures can make a meaningful difference: just add stickers and crayons!
As ever, it was great to join forces with City University and to contribute to SVW 2014. We will leave you with a short summary video below that recaps what they got up to throughout the week, and showcases all that is great about student volunteering.