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Student Volunteer of the Year Award — the shortlist

Posted on 18 Jan 2016

There were some tough, nail-biting decisions along the way, but our judges finally managed it: cutting our ten-strong longlist for the Student Volunteer of the Year award to a shortlist of five. We're absolutely thrilled with the students who made the cut — it's a bold, exciting list which showcases student volunteering in all its diversity. Read on for more info about the shortlist, and their stories…


Jo Devall

Jo Devall from the University of Plymouth is a Volunteer Lifeboat Crewman for the RNLI in Plymouth, and former President of UPSU SAINTS Kickboxing Club. In these two volunteering experiences, Jo has developed skills in first aid, has raised money for charity, and lead a community clean-up initiative in a local woodland. One of our judges referred to Jo’s volunteering as ‘pretty phenomenal’, noting that it 'impacts their life twenty-four-seven, three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year’.

Jo in his own words:

"My name is Jo Devall, I am 28 years old and originally from the north west highlands of Scotland. After spending 8 years in Plymouth, where I recently completed a 4 year degree, I now live in Liverpool where I have begun my dream career as a Hydrographic Surveyor. I adore anything to do with the sea, especially spear fishing, free diving & Wakeboarding and I am also a keen snowboarder. Alongside my studies and interests, I have also dedicated an awful lot of my life to helping others."


Liam Rodgers

Liam Rodgers from Sheffield Hallam University is the Project Leader (and founder) of Upscribe; a creative writing project for homeless people to express themselves through creative writing. Liam led on the creation and publication of a book created through people who participated in the project, and many of them are now published writers! For our judges, what really stood out about Liam’s nomination was the journey he embarked upon in creating Upscribe, and one of them referred to him as ‘exceptionally passionate and hands-on’.

Liam in his own words:

"I'm a self-published author and mature student of creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University. I hope that my publishing social enterprise, UpScribe will continue to offer courses and published books to marginalised groups from varying communities, including refugees and asylum seekers, ex-offenders and children and adults in supported housing.

"I'm just as passionate about community work as I am about my own writing and career aspirations. If I couldn't use my degree to help other people access literature and writing then it wouldn’t have been worth doing. I want to share the knowledge."


Kathleen Crymble

Kathleen Crymble from South Lanarkshire College established the Back to School Bank in East Kilbride in summer 2015. The Bank operates in a similar way to a foodbank, but instead provides new school clothes for children living in poverty. Kathleen has used her skills in confectionary to make chocolate bars to raise funds for the project, and has written funding bids to national organisations to bring in money to support the project. Our judges absolutely loved Kathleen’s project — as they discussed her nomination, they couldn’t stop using the word ‘lovely’!

Kathleen in her own words:

"After graduating from Glasgow University in 1982 I spent many happy years working in the retail industry. When my son was born I gave up work and became a childminder so that I could stay at home with him. When he started secondary school I returned to education and started at South Lanarkshire College in my home town of East Kilbride where I am at present studying Community Work. I thoroughly enjoy the course and at the moment I am trying to decide whether to take a job when I finish or go on to Postgraduate Study in this field."


Samuel Wong

Samuel Wong from Royal Holloway is a Cabinet Office Volunteer Advisor, Project Leader for numerous volunteering projects, and is involved with the local Police Independent Advisory Group and Young Community Leaders Network. Our judges described Samuel as ‘very hands-on’, and lauded the extent to which Samuel is ‘embedded in volunteering’ in his local community.

Samuel in his own words:

"Originally from Hong Kong, I’m a Criminology & Psychology student and Community Action volunteering ambassador at Royal Holloway. I support volunteers with a specific focus on international students, promote volunteering within the local community, lead numerous volunteering projects at the university and I’m also involved in the local police Independent Advisory Group. In these roles, I’ve built strong community links in Egham, Virginia Water, Englefied Green, Staines and Guildford."


Zoe Webber

Zoe Webber from Goldsmiths University is the President of RE:mind mental health society, and is dedicated to volunteering to help students to improve their mental health. Zoe co-founded the Dedicated Listeners project, which is a peer-support listening service. Our judges praised Zoe’s ‘amazing commitment’, and called her story ‘really powerful’.

Zoe in her own words:

"I am originally from Cardiff and I study Psychosocial Studies. I became interested in mental health at the age of 21 when my experiences within educational establishments and at home made me realise that so many of us suffer due to a lack of support, education and understanding within this area. I feel a strong sense of duty to direct my work towards growing awareness of the importance of mental health education and of the reduction of stigma.

"I co-founded the society RE:mind and the Dedicated listener’s service as a way to reduce the isolation felt by students dealing with mental health difficulties and to begin to create a growing, compassionate community of mental health pioneers! I also volunteer for a project called Mindkit which trains those with experience of mental health difficulties to hold workshops for young people encouraging them to explore their emotional health, wellbeing and resilience, with a touch of mindfulness."

We'll be giving you more information about the Student Volunteer of the Year shortlist over the next few weeks, before announcing the winner at our annual Celebration Event on Monday 22 February, the start of Student Volunteering Week. To keep up with the latest news and updates, follow us on social media:

The Student Volunteering Week Team

The national SVW team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign, 22-28 Feb 2016

Categories: Award