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10 things we learnt from SVW 2015

Posted on 2 Mar 2015

1. Good luck stereotyping student volunteers

Student volunteers come from all sorts of backgrounds, are motivated by different things, interested in a variety of causes, and bring their own unique skills to their activities. In short, we've been amazed by the diversity of volunteering activities across the UK this week that are breaking down stereotypes and including all students.

2. Student volunteers are in demand

Some charities knew about SVW in advance and attended fairs on campus, published case studies of current volunteers, partnered with colleges and universities to run volunteering opportunities, nominated volunteers for the Award, and used #SVW2015 to advertise on Twitter. But dozens more heard about SVW during the week and wanted to find out how they could reach out to motivated students. This shows that there's a huge demand for volunteers across the UK and it's very tricky for volunteering centres (and us!) to figure out which volunteer roles are impactful, exciting, and worth advertising to students. We'll be thinking about how to better link up charities and volunteering centres for SVW 2016 to make sure that young people are offered roles that make the most of their opinions, skills and ideas!

3. 57% of FE students are involved in social action

This year we've seen more colleges involved in SVW than ever before. And new research published by NUS and the Association of Colleges revealed that 57% of FE students take part in social action. The research also found that the primary motivator for volunteering isn’t to gain experience or pad out CVs, but to improve things and to help people. And students are giving their time to do this in a massive range of ways too – from organising events and fundraising, to teaching and tutoring, to visiting people and providing care.

4. February weather can't stop student volunteers

Students from University of Nottingham braving the rain!

5. Judging "outstanding volunteers" is HARD!

We were amazed by the quality and quantity of nominations for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The variety of skills, interests, and achievements represented by our five shortlisted volunteers shows that there is no one way that the best volunteers show motivation, commitment and passion. Which just reinforces the fact that ANYONE can get involved in social action and make a positive impact on an issue that they care about.

Our 5 Award finalists including winner Conor McGlacken (2nd from left). Photo: Student Hubs/Graham Read

6. We're counting more than hours

From what we've seen and heard from volunteering teams this week, you're committed to counting more than just volunteering hours and random acts of kindness to prove impact. Through qualitative data such as case studies, quotes, and targeted feedback forms to measure specific outcomes, you're gathering information about community impact and the personal benefits of volunteering and we can't wait to bring all of your data together to showcase the national impact of SVW!

7. Students are in the spotlight for the general election

There have been plenty of reports showing that students could significantly affect the outcome of the general election in May. Especially students at these 10 universities in areas with closely-fought marginal seats. The majority of these universities took part in SVW 2015, and student volunteers at dozens of universities across the UK have been encouraging their peers to register and to learn about the issues that affect their local communities.

8. Everyone loves a free t-shirt

Thanks to Barclays, we were able to deliver over 1,600 free t-shirts to volunteers around the UK. Even better, they were designed by a current student for the first time in SVW history!

Volunteers at the University of York

9. Student Volunteering Week is growing

More colleges and universities signed up, more events planned, more volunteers, more charity partners, more t-shirts, more support for staff, a new Bootcamp for students, more award nominations, more Facebook likes and Twitter followers, more grant applications… SVW has grown in a lot of ways this year! But what we're really interested in are the outputs and outcomes that results from all of those inputs.

What's interesting is that levels of student social action have actually remained constant for decades (check out research from Georgina Brewis), and we think that SVW has an important role to play in finding ways to increase levels of social action in the future!

10. And finally, the House of Commons cakes are YUMMY

We're looking into how to deliver these with your t-shirts next year…

Photo: Student Hubs/Graham Read

The SVW Team

The national team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign. Get into touch at info@studentvolunteeringweek.org.uk