Shortlisting success at the National Societies & Volunteering Awards

Two of our very own Students’ Union student groups have been shortlisted for the National Societies and Volunteering Awards 2020! These awards are an annual celebration of student volunteers and societies from across the UK. They are an opportunity to recognise the awesome things students do every day with their societies and volunteering programmes.  

Sustain@BL is up for the Collaboration Award and Barts Community Smiles has been shortlisted for the Community Award. We spoke with both the groups to find out a little bit more about them and what they get up to.

Both groups are relatively new, with this being Barts Community Smiles’ second year running, and Sustain having reached the one year mark last month. For these two groups to have reached national recognition so early in their journey is a testament to the hard work of their volunteers and committee.

Barts Community Smiles

Barts Community Smiles is a volunteering group made up of dental students and students from other allied health courses. Their work in the community involves going to different places like local schools, community centres, libraries and raising awareness on the importance of oral health. Their work has a broad reach and especially aims to help those in the community who many not have access to dental care. Their volunteers take the time to develop targeted programmes for their different audiences, with SugarSmart schools for children, and talks on diabetes for the elderly.

This year they have worked with eight schools in Tower Hamlets and have even managed to reach out to Newham. They have also collaborated with other student groups like ROCK and volunteered at Whitechapel Street Kitchen. Their amazing work has even caught the eye of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets whom they met at Whitechapel Idea Store as part of their activities for Fizz Free February. They were also invited to the House of Commons to speak with MPs about their volunteering efforts.

When we spoke to the committee they said;

“it’s a blessing to be recognised for following our passion, which is helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds”. A huge congratulations to the Barts Community Smiles committee and volunteers for this well-deserved achievement.


Sustain@BL is a new environmental society. Simply put, their aim is to provide a space for people to be passionate and grow a community to fight the climate crisis. Whilst their activities include campaigns and protests to raise awareness, they also engage with the local community. Their regular climate clinics bring people together to present, discuss, and debate different environmental issues. In light of current circumstances these have now moved online, and you can find out more on Sustain’s Facebook.

Their activities and events have included sustainable card making, visiting art exhibitions, hosting vegan Christmas dinners, drag shows, to mention just a few. This year they have collaborated with other societies like BL Drama, BL Nutrition, BL LGBT, and Students for Global Health, not to mention other London universities. No wonder they’ve been shortlisted for the collaboration award!

The committee highlighted that it is easy to feel alone when campaigning, and part of their work is to nurture incoming students who are interested in climate issues, and providing emotional support to those in the movement. Being shortlisted for this award means a recognition of the climate crisis, and of the hard work of students to get these issues onto the agenda. When asked about the growth and success of the society, the committee said their “main strength has been in collaborating with others”. The committee also wanted to give a special shoutout to our Sustainability Coordinator Tom Stockton, Sustainability Officer Lizzie Hunter and Barts VP Megan Annets for all their support this year.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday 6th May 6pm on NSVA’s Facebook. You can join the online ceremony here. Best of luck to both Sustain@BL and Barts Community Smiles!

Barts Community Smiles in action with local school children

Sustain@BL at the LGBT+ History Month drag performance