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Institution spotlight: SOAS

Posted on 4 Mar 2015

Now that SVW 2015 is over, we're excited to share recaps and highlights from colleges and unis across the UK. Today we got this lovely recap from a group of students involved in Student Hubs at SOAS in London who brought SVW to SOAS for the first time ever!

As you can probably guess, Student Hubs at SOAS is part of the national charity Student Hubs. We are based at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and our mission is to facilitate the practical engagement of SOAS students in local and global social as well as environmental issues, now and in the future. We inspire, connect and support our students to volunteer, undertake impactful micro-placements, organise conferences and start social enterprises.

This year we celebrated national Student Volunteering Week for the first time ever at SOAS with a week-long programme of activities. We got students involved by signing a petition on global education, volunteering at a homeless drop in centre, and organising origami-fun for children with special needs. It was a rewarding experience and we learnt a lot in the week. Warning: this blog post reads a bit like the Hungry Caterpillar story by Eric Carle…


On Wednesday we had a stall at the SOAS Bazaar, a monthly marketplace we organise with Student Enterprise for budding entrepreneurs. We gathered signatures for the #UpforSchool Campaign which fights for the right of every child to go to school, without danger and without discrimination. We got lots of signatures so thanks to all those enthusiastic students who signed and joined the global movement.


Early on Friday morning, ten brave ladies from SOAS got up and trekked down to South Kensington to volunteer at a homeless drop-in centre. At first we were all a bit nervous, but as the day progressed we relaxed, served breakfast and then lunch, and got to know the guests.

Here’s what some of the volunteers had to say about the day:

  • “The experience of the homeless centre was an eye-opener… Their education level and travel experiences was surprising and over-whelming at the same time. Contrary to the general notion, all guests were extremely polite, gentle and easy to talk to and I had no uncomfortable moments. The few hours spent there made me realise the gap in society of what people deserve and what they get.” -Nandita
  • “It was my first time volunteering to feed people who are homeless, and it was overall an eye-opening experience. I was amazed at not only how many people we were able to feed, but also the extremely human element to the work that organisation was doing. Being able to talk to everyone on a first name basis, and offering such amazing support such as a barber service, an onsite social worker, clothes, and ultimately a space to feel welcomed and supported.” -Mariam
  • “I really enjoyed volunteering at the homeless drop-in and it was a great experience for me, one that took me out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed interacting with everyone, and found them to be friendly, nice, and accepting. Seeing the relationship between the people who are homeless and the regular volunteers was very inspiring; it showed me that our small actions can make a difference in people's lives, and taught me the importance of showing care through interacting and conversing, beyond just serving food and providing shelter.” -Mehvish

Students from SOAS volunteering during SVW


On Saturday afternoon, a group of seven dedicated Hub and Origami society students went to Hackney (one of only five London boroughs without a tube station…) to organise a day of fun for children with special needs. The SOAS Origami society came along and set up a workshop station for the kids to get involved with origami.

Highlights from a day volunteering with children with special needs during SVW

Overall we had a wonderfully successful first Student Volunteering Week ever at SOAS and are already looking forward to #SVW2016!

If you would like to share your highlights, challenges or stories from SVW 2015, or what your big lessons for next year are, we'd love to hear from you! Check out our blogging guidelines.

Student Hubs at SOAS

Student Hubs at SOAS is part of the national charity Student Hubs. Their student committee took part in SVW for the first time this year.

Categories: Institution spotlight