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Award Finalist: Kathleen Crymble

Posted on 17 Feb 2016

This week we are introducing you to the five students who have been shortlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at our Celebration Event on Monday 22 February.

Today, we meet Kathleen Crymble from South Lanarkshire College. Molly from the SVW team caught up with Kathleen on the phone and asked her a few questions about her experience…


Kathleen 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 confectionery 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.

Why did you start volunteering, Kathleen?

I saw a need for the service in my area. I had been following Back to School Banks on Facebook for a couple of months and really wanted to support them. I got in touch about donating but they said they didn’t have a service in East Kilbride. I decided to set up the programme to help families in my local community.

Donations to the Back to School Bank

What do you think are the benefits of volunteering?

Oh, there are loads. There are obviously benefits to the people that you are helping, but there are also personal benefits. The biggest one for me is that I’ve got to know my community a lot better. I come across a lot of people who donate to and use the service, and I’ve been able to meet other agencies working in the area. I knew they existed but I’d never been, so it’s great to learn more about them.

I’m really interested in community work (that’s what I study at college), so volunteering has given me a practical way to engage with others. I can’t help but be enthusiastic about the Back to School Bank! I’ve grown more confident in sharing what I do with others and I encourage people to set up their own banks, which I wouldn't have done before.

Why do you think it's important that other students volunteer while they’re at college or university?

Students can get so much from contributing to their community. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn more about your area, the local need, the people you live nearby and it shows you their kindness. It’s very rewarding in a lot of ways, allowing you to meet people and develop a sense of belonging.

What is your message to students who aren’t sure whether they want to volunteer?

Do it! There’s really so much to gain and you can choose how much time you devote to it. Even a couple of hours could benefit you and your community in so many ways. Volunteering is such a good opportunity to integrate into your local area and do something good at the same time.

If you won the £1000 prize, which charity would you give it to and why?

I would like to split it, giving some to the Back to School Bank - we could buy a lot of clothes and shoes for the families we work with. I would also give some to East Kilbride Swap and Save, a service allowing the community to pass clothes on to others who need them and find secondhand clothes to take home. These clothes also go to Women’s Aid and the homeless, so it’s a great cause. They have been supportive of my project, so I’d like to do the same for them.

Publicising & fundraising for the Back to School Bank

Kathleen Crymble

Kathleen is a Community Work student at South Lanarkshire College and one of the finalists for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2016.

Categories: Award, Colleges, What volunteering means to me