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"You'll never know until you try": Ideas for volunteering taster sessions

Posted on 15 Dec 2014

One of the national aims of SVW 2015 is to inspire more students to get involved in volunteering.

The classic saying "you'll never know until you try" definitely applies to volunteering, and loads of colleges and universities will be hosting taster sessions or one-off events where students can try volunteering for the first time or just try a new type of volunteering. Here are some examples of activities that might inspire more people to get involved…

1. Environmental Clear Up

Do you have a park, community garden or beach somewhere near your institution that could do with a bit of sprucing up? Why not gather together a load of volunteers and some bin bags and have an afternoon clear up. The students get to do something for their local community and local residents will appreciate having their local landscape beautified!

2. Children’s Library Day

Lots of students love to read, so how about organising a Book Day, to be held in your local city library, with school children from their area? You could contact local primary schools to see if any classes are studying a particular book, or you could organise for a local author to come and do a reading. You could even give the day a theme and ask everyone to dress up as their favourite character. A great project for all involved!

Photo from University of Bristol SU

3. 1920’s Tea Party

Why not organise a 1920’s themed Tea Party for the residents of your local care home? You could ask your university or college’s jazz band to provide the entertainment and get volunteers to come up with some fun, easy party games. Maybe a local deli, bakery or supermarket would like to sponsor the event by providing free sandwiches and cakes. This project is a great way to bridge the generational divide between students and those living in the community.

Photo from University of Winchester

4. “What’s your cause?” Campaign

Students across the country are interested in many different environmental and social issues. Why not run a photo or whiteboard campaign to try and highlight the many different things that students care about? You could even try and get a spread in your university, college or local paper to showcase what you’ve found.

Photo from Imperial Hub at Imperial College London

5. Sports Tournament Fundraiser

Most universities and FE Colleges have sports teams which students can get involved in alongside their studies. Why not get in contact with some of yours and ask if they’d be interested in partaking in an informal sports tournament to help raise money for charity? You could pick a sport that lots of people enjoy or you could design your own Sports Day for participants to complete. This activity is a brilliant way to raise lots of money for charity, raise awareness of specific causes and also get a broad range of students involved – including those who maybe wouldn’t usually be drawn to volunteering.

Photo from Brunel University

6. Letter writing campaign

Is there a particular issue that seems to have caught the attention of the students at your institution? Then why not put on a different type of volunteering opportunity and hold a letter writing campaign session, as a way for students to voice their opinions on the things that really matter? Letter writing campaigns act as fantastic advocacy tools, they’re quick and easy to run and best of all, anyone can get involved!

7. Redecorating a local community centre

Do you run any projects or events from your local community centre? Either way, SVW is a fantastic time to make friends with people in your community and what better way than by helping to redecorate a building used by many? Try to get as many people from across the city involved as you can. I’m thinking local firms to sponsor, local shops to donate paint and decorations, local musicians to provide entertainment…

Photo from Teesside University

8. Flash meal

A flash meal is the latest craze to be sweeping London! It involves a group of volunteers descending on a central city location and giving out free food – this can either be food cooked on sight (note: you need a fair amount of equipment for this) or cooked beforehand and just simply transported to the place you’ve decided to meet. This is a fantastic way for students to get chatting to local residents, as well as a nice way to give back – let’s face it, who doesn’t like free food!

9. Dance-athon to promote healthy lifestyles and to raise money

It’s no secret that students enjoy a night out on the town, so why not turn their need to dance into a money-making afternoon for a charity of their choice? Dance-athons, as well as being extremely good fun, are a fantastic way to raise money and promote the importance of healthy living. You could ask one of your institution’s dance teams if they’d like to run the sessions and then set challenges to see who comes out on top.

10. Providing a meal for local people who are homeless

This could be done alongside your city council or contact local charities who support people who are homeless, as they may appreciate your support. Again, you could see if any local grocery stores or food shops would like to donate some goods or sponsor the event. Why not team this project with a talk on homelessness so that students get the opportunity to learn about the issues and the ways in which homelessness could be prevented in the future?

So, there are 10 of our ideas. We’d love to know what one-off opportunities you are organising for SVW 2015, so get in touch if you'd like to share.

The SVW Team

The national team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign.

Categories: Advice