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SVW Bootcamps — the lowdown!

Posted on 17 Dec 2015

Over two weeks in early December 2016, the Student Volunteering Week team went on the road to deliver SVW Bootcamps in four cities around the country — London, Birmingham, York, and Bristol. All events were delivered by Student Hubs and the National Union of Students, with additional help from Voluntary Arts and a fantastic roster of speakers. The real stars of the show were the students, however—we were absolutely bowled over by the ideas and enthusiasm on show, and now we’re even more excited (if that’s possible…) for Student Volunteering Week in February! The following is just a taster of what we got up to….

We listened to speakers from all over the charity sector and beyond…

From the NUS’ chief executive Simon Blake to Richard Salter from Saint John Amblance, all our guest speakers were incredibly passionate about the potential for students to bring about social change—although that was pretty much all they had in common! From our two excellent speakers from the Trussell Trust, who told us all about the challenges and opportunities of operating a nationwide network of food banks that helps over a million people yearly, to Saf Nazeer from helpfulpeeps, who talked about the way technology can unlock microvolunteering opportunities, each speaker brought something different and exciting to the table.

…then spent some time thinking about how we're going to change the world.

Not content with simply listening to other people talk about their social action journeys, we spent some time reflecting on why we volunteer and which issues we really care about. Providing a great way to think about this was ‘craftivism’-, the idea of engaging with social issues in creative ways. Rosie from NUS, ably assisted by experts from Voluntary Arts, led a crafting session in which we were able to create something cool and talk about volunteering at the same time. Niki, a student who attended the Birmingham Bootcamp, told us that she thought the hands were ‘visually effective and informative’ and ‘a quick and quirky way to inspire’, but you don’t have to take her word for it—click this link to look at some other pictures from the Bootcamps, including some of our craftivist hands!

We planned some absolutely mind-boggling events…

Our second session saw attendees brainstorm ideas for solving big social problems from the refugee crisis to mental health stigma and turn those ideas into concrete, plausible event plans—in just over an hour! Far from struggling with the challenge, our Bootcampers threw themselves into the wild and wonderful world of their imaginations, dreaming up projects that included swap-shops, skillshares, foodbanks, urban farms, and more. Every attendee left their Bootcamp with some solid next steps for putting their ideas into action, so look out for them on a campus near you very soon!

…and learned how to shout about them!

Capping off each day was a crash-course in communications, including top tips on identifying your audience and optimising messages for maximum impact. After everything else we’d been up to at the Bootcamps, we were all keen to get the word of student volunteering out there, so it was lucky that social media specialist Molly from Student Hubs was at hand in our London Bootcamp to help out.


…our SVW 2016 Bootcamps were pretty successful! One attendee called them ‘fun, vibrant, and engaging’ while another said ‘it was really helpful to meet new people and gain new ideas for what we could do’. We’re already really excited for the week itself — bring on SVW 2016!

Matt Davies

Volunteering Officer at Student Hubs

Categories: Bootcamp