Students with time to give

It’s not just alumni who volunteer at the University – our students do some wonderful work in the local area. By giving their time, students gain fantastic skills which prepare them for the future and encourage good community values.

At York, we encourage all students to get involved and volunteer if they have time, and we recognise their commitment through the annual Student Volunteering Awards. This event is a celebration of the achievements of our student volunteers in their communities.  Compered by BBC Radio York’s Elly Fiorentini, this year’s event will be held on 17 May at King’s Manor in York.

The value of time

In 2015/16, over 2,600 University of York students gave over 57,000 hours of their time to volunteering – equating to over £410,000 if they were paid the minimum wage, During the same period, our alumni gave over 5,600 hours of their time to York students!

Active volunteers

Your donations to YuFund support student volunteer projects and encourage our students to be active volunteers. Our students are involved in a wide range of projects, from mentoring school pupils, to conservation work and care support for local people, from Minds in Motion who run monthly harmony cafes supporting people with dementia, to a Life Stories project with residents in Tang Hall.

A positive impact

Whilst all of York’s student volunteers make a positive impact on the people they work with, there are some who stand out as having made an exceptional contribution. The University of York Student Volunteering Awards aims to celebrate and recognise students who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution in the local area.

Isabella Dziedzicki

Isabella Dziedzicki – Philosophy undergraduate

Isabella is a Communications and PR Volunteer for Yourcafe – a community café that collects left-over food from retailers which would otherwise be wasted, to provide communal meals. 

Tell us about your volunteering role.

“As a Communications and PR Volunteer for Yourcafe, I have been heavily involved in promoting Yourcafe’s work and profile. This involves outreach strategies through social media and engagement with student communities. I helped promote Yourcafe’s campus run event, Fill Bellies Not Bins!, to tackle the problem of food waste by fostering a community spirit and sharing surplus food. I have also been able to build up a network of support in the York community, and have even taken part in a live interview with BBC Radio York. This has all helped to get the message out there about the great service being run by Yourcafe, so more and more people can enjoy delicious meals.”

What attracted you to a volunteering role with Yourcafe?

“I have always been passionate about issues concerning environmental sustainability and food waste, so after finding out about Yourcafe’s work, I was immediately motivated to help in any way I could. Another reason I wanted to get involved with volunteering was that it was a great way to meet a diverse group of wonderful people in the York community. As a student, it can sometimes be easy to get trapped in the ‘bubble’ of only interacting with other students, so to have the opportunity to meet other people who I usually wouldn’t come across is incredibly rewarding.  Also, I just really wanted to get stuck into something new and develop useful, transferable skills.”

What have been the highlights – or surprises – of your volunteering experience?

“Being interviewed by BBC Radio York was a fantastic experience! I was slightly nervous about being interviewed live, but it felt amazing to be able to recognise the great work Yourcafe does and to spread the message around York. To be able to say that I successfully organised an interview with a regional radio broadcaster has also been a great skill to put on my CV for future career development. And of course providing people with food, and witnessing the benefits of community spirit in action, has been inspiring.”

Any top tips for people thinking about volunteering?

“Get stuck in! Being bold and enthusiastic can help make a real difference. Volunteering teams are such collaborative and hard-working groups, so if you have an idea to make things better then chances are other people will be more than willing to help you fulfil your goal.”

Laura Nicklin

Laura Nicklin – Education postgraduate

Laura is Derwent College’s Graduate Common Room Committee (GCRC) Chair.

Tell us about your volunteering role.

“In my voluntary role as Chair of Derwent GCRC, I have helped integrate and improve connections for the postgraduate community. I found that often postgrads can get caught up in their studies, leaving little time to socialise and make friends at University. I’ve organised really successful social and writing events and provost suppers, helping students get to know each other outside their studies. From my time as an undergraduate, I know that you don’t often get the opportunity to socialise and just have a chat with postgrads, so to be able to bridge those gaps between the two student communities has been really rewarding.”

What attracted you to a volunteering role?

“Having had the experience of volunteering and doing paid work in similar areas, I realised that when money isn’t a factor, passion for what you are doing really takes over! Volunteering enables you not only to take part in work that you care about, but also to help solve problems for the local community. As chair of Derwent GCRC, I have made lots of new friends and developed a range of skills for future career development. Volunteering really does bring out the best of both worlds: you can improve your CV, whilst taking part in an enjoyable experience and meeting a diverse range of people.”

What have been the highlights – or surprises – of your volunteering experience?

“I think the main surprise from my time with Derwent GCRC is how much it took off! During the initial stages of getting GCRC off the ground a lot of people were telling me that it would be too much work, and that previous attempts had failed in the past. Despite this, through perseverance and commitment, it was amazing to see how many people wanted to get involved with GCRC, either as a member of the team or just by coming down to our events. And seeing how much Derwent GCRC’s influence has spread around campus to promote the inter-college community has been a real highlight as well, with other colleges wanting to set up their own committees to boost sociable connections for the postgrad community.”

Any top tips for people thinking about volunteering?

“My advice for those thinking of volunteering would be that if you care about something, get involved! When volunteering, you have the opportunity to commit towards helping others in the community you live in. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you never know what great things will come from it. I also think it is important to be honest with yourself and to be aware of your own feelings. Ultimately you are investing your own time, so make sure you get the most out of the experience.”

Sam Crossley

Sam Crossley – PEP undergraduate

Sam is a volunteer Marketing Officer for York Community Consulting (YCC), a voluntary, student-led pro bono consultancy run through the University’s Careers department.

Tell us about your volunteering role.

“YCC has two broad aims: firstly, to provide strong employability skills for students; and secondly, to give back to the local community in York by helping charities and organisations. The projects we take on are conducted with the aim of solving a problem for a community client. For example, one project we are currently undertaking is an environmental sustainability report for Fleetways Taxis. We also have fantastic connections with the Big Four consultancy firms, as their employees enthusiastically participate as external mentors in these projects. My role as Marketing Officer is to promote YCC through social media and events, whilst also ensuring we get as many new applicants as possible.”

What attracted you to a volunteering role?

“Getting involved in YCC has really developed my employability skills. The range of work we do enhances skills such as professionalism, team-work and communication – which all look fantastic on your CV. Getting involved in volunteering through YCC has also shown a willingness to be proactive, and is a means of getting one step ahead. Before coming to university I had no idea of what the consulting sector even was, but through my time with YCC I have gained a vast amount of consulting experience which has stimulated my personal growth. Volunteering really has given me the opportunity to build up my work experience, whilst helping others.”

What have been the highlights – or surprises – of your volunteering experience?

“A highlight and a surprise has been holding YCC’s first ever Consulting Conference. This was a one-day event where over 120 students came to see talks from leading consultancies’ CEOs, and recent graduates imparting their careers wisdom. This event gave students the chance to network, gain information on work experience and just generally learn more about consulting. It was a highlight to see how a voluntary organisation produced such an effective, professional output. Another huge highlight of volunteering is whenever we get to help out a community client. Knowing that we have provided a quality service and made a social impact is incredibly rewarding.”

Any top tips for people thinking about volunteering?

“Don’t be worried about your lack of experience! Volunteering opportunities are there to give you that chance to try something new. As long as you are pro-active, communicative and willing to work with others, you’ll find yourself really benefiting from your time volunteering. If you are looking for consulting experience, or just general employability skills, YCC is the perfect place for you to develop your talent and provide a real benefit to communities in York.”

Clare Hall

Clare Hall – English and Related Literature undergraduate

Clare is a volunteer with York Theatre in Schools and Peacejam.

Tell us about your volunteering role.

“I have been involved in a range of exciting volunteering roles throughout my time at the University. One of these has been a leading involvement in Theatre in Schools, a project run by YUSU. As volunteers, we have gone into local primary schools around York to run interactive and engaging drama workshops after school. These sessions have involved a diverse range of activities and themes from improvisation, to Shakespeare and stories covering many different genres. It has been amazing to see how much the children have gotten stuck in and enjoyed the different activities – and parents have been really impressed as well! I have also been involved in the recent Peacejam Slam event, where I delivered a Theatre in Schools workshop and helped to host the event, introducing guests and singing songs for young students.”

What attracted you to a volunteering role?

“Taking part in volunteering has been a great way to get involved with the local community and build up my confidence. For Theatre in Schools in particular, I have always loved drama, so to be able to share my passion with young children has been incredibly inspiring. Volunteering has been really helpful for my future career development. I have always been interested in working with children, and volunteering has confirmed my choice to undertake a PCGE teaching course after I graduate.”

What have been the highlights – or surprises – of your volunteering experience?

“A definite highlight of my time volunteering has been seeing the positive responses of young people and how they have loved getting involved. With Theatre in Schools, it has been great to see how engaged young students are, and the bizarre ideas they have come up with! It’s also really rewarding to see parents’ reactions to what the children have been getting up to. As for surprises, I have been really taken aback by just how many opportunities there are to volunteer through the University. Taking part in Theatre in Schools, Peacejam and the Careers Department @WORK volunteering project, I’ve had such a diverse and exciting volunteering experience.”

Any top tips for people thinking about volunteering?

“Choose something you are passionate about. This will mean you will enjoy the volunteering experience all the more – and you might even find inspiration for your future career.  Also, just get involved and stuck in to whatever you’re doing, and you will see the fantastic impact you can make on the local community.”