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Award Finalist: Samuel Wong

Posted on 15 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 Samuel Wong, Criminology & Psychology student at Royal Holloway.

In the past volunteering meant nothing to me until I joined Project TIGERS in 2011, a volunteer training programme facilitated by Leo Club of Queensway - Lions Clubs International in Hong Kong. I spent 8 weeks attending numerous training workshops, organising a personal growth workshop and volunteering at an elderly care home. Their beliefs - Togetherness, Independence, Group work, Experience, Responsibility and Service - have taught me the real meaning of volunteering, and these concept have gradually become embedded in my mind. The compassion in me and my willingness to serve had been enlightened by this training programme and this belief has become part of my life.

Life as a Community Action Team member

Alongside other extracurricular activities at Royal Holloway, Community Action Team is a wonderful experience for students to develop their potential. Unlike any student society or paid job, volunteering does not require any membership fees, excellent academic background, or specialist skills, all you need is your imagination, passion, determination, and dedication. With the huge support from the Community Action staff and the rest of the team, being a member of the team has opened up many opportunities for me: I've represented Community Action at a regional crime summit and SVW Bootcamps, I've helped at volunteering fairs and open days to promote volunteering with a specific focus to international students, I've helped setting up volunteering opportunities in the local community, I've co-led and developed student-led projects, and much more… Community Action Team is one of the most rewarding activities that allows me to gain skills in communication, teamwork, leadership, self development and project management.

"Unlike any student society or paid job, volunteering does not require any membership fees, excellent academic background, or specialist skills, all you need is your imagination, passion, determination, and dedication."

Personally, I am proud to be in the Community Action Team for three years. Yes! I joined the team on the first day I arrived at Royal Holloway because I wanted to utilise my voice and flute to do something meaningful, I wanted to get involved, and I wanted to bring two distinct communities together.

Road to Sing-Along Surrey

By 2021 it is predicted that over one million people across the UK will suffer from dementia. With no known cures available, music has been shown to alleviate symptoms, in particular the power to unlock memories. Music is therefore fast becoming a key feature of dementia care in the future. As such, I decided to bring more sing-along sessions to the local care homes with my fellow Community Action teammates.

Sing-Along Surrey is a Community Action student-led volunteering project with the aim to encourage Royal Holloway students to interact with the older generation of the local community. The project is a popular way to bring two generations closer together through song. Not only are Royal Holloway students going out to sing, but the older people are also given opportunities to perform in the beautiful Picture Gallery in Founder's Building at Royal Holloway. With the support of Runnymede Borough Council and Royal Holloway alumni, free minibus transport helped to bring music to over 100 residents in four care homes with more than 200 volunteers, including 4 Royal Holloway Musical Societies and 70 regular volunteers. The project has built strong community links in Walton on Thames, Egham, Virginia Water, Englefield Green and Staines.

"Imagination creates reality"… I am not surprised by what Richard Wagner said. Volunteering is a journey full of surprises, and nobody would know what could happen. After 5 years of regular volunteering, I've built up my experience, confidence and independence. I would never have expected to become a voluntary advisor at Surrey Police Independent Advisory Group, giving feedback on how to improve the relationship between the police and minority communities. I would never have expected to be selected to collect volunteering case studies for the Cabinet Office, nor to be interviewed by Surrey County Council to support their volunteering campaign. And of course, to be nominated and become a finalist of the Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2016!

I love volunteering despite having mixed feelings when seeing new faces and losing old faces in sing-along sessions. However, volunteering is like this. If you never try, you'll never know. And now here's a very simple secret: I've tried, and volunteering means a lot to me and makes a real impact in my life. If anyone is in doubt about volunteering, no matter once a week, once a month, once a year, or once a decade, just get involved, and it will amaze you!

Samuel Ho Lam Wong

Samuel is a Criminology & Psychology student of Royal Holloway and one of the finalists for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2016.

Categories: Award, Universities, What volunteering means to me