From one off gigs to regular commitments, we'll help you find something that suits your interests and your timetable. Attend our Volunteering Fair TOMORROW, 25 October, to find out more.
Use your downtime for good, level up and share a unique and special experience with others by volunteering. Volunteering at uni doesn't have to be a big commitment. Our Give Volunteering a Go service officers a calander of opportunities to suit you, from a few hours, half a day or full day of your time. From one off gigs to regular commitments, we'll help you find something that suits your interests and your timetable.
Our opportunities are varied, from helping charity and community organisationd to working big events around London. Last academic year, there were TWO London Marathons, and this meant two students were supported by us with training plans, free gym membership, and fundraising help to run on behalf of Queen Mary for a charity of their choice.
Read below to learn a little more about our first runners’ experience running the October 2022 London marathon, as well as how to get involved at the next one as a runner, or as one of our fifty QMSU volunteers there on the day!
This is just one of many volunteering opportunities we offer and you can attend our Volunteering Fair TOMORROW, 25 October, to find out more.
Meet our October runner:
“I am Mergen Dorjnamjil, a 20-year-old girl from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – but I lived in Vienna, Austria since I was 10. I am in my second year, studying Medical Genetics. I’m very spontaneous, I like to write poetry, cooking, explore nature, paint, cycle, hiking and I love adventures.”
How did you get involved in the marathon?
“During April 2022, I was feeling mundane and stuck in a routine. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, yet nothing too out of the ordinary was happening. I saw an opening for the Students’ Union representative in the London Marathon – I thought… running is hard…I’m not the best runner… they probably won’t choose me… it’s competitive to get this spot…
But then, a part of me said to myself “Mergen, what's the worst that can happen? The worst is a no, I have nothing to lose. Let's go!”
I wrote to the Students’ Union on why I want to run for the marathon, what it means to me, and my plan. I applied and didn’t expect to be selected, however, a few weeks later I received an email that they selected me! I was quite surprised and happy, but also shocked! I'm running a marathon representing my university!”
Can you tell us a little bit more about the charity you’ve been supporting?
“I read about the charities that I can run for and chose the one that meant the most to me – helping sick children in hospitals and making them smile. I decided to pick the charity because it had a deep meaning in my heart. I had my beloved grandfather, who passed way, stay in the hospital for over a month due to extreme sickness and I know what it’s like, how sad it can be, and how hard it is for them in every way possible.
The charity I've been supporting is called "Spread a Smile", they bring joy and laughter to seriously ill children who are hospitalized and helps their family during long hospital stays.
They support through hospital visits, outings, events, and art initiatives. Their impact is much larger than a smile, and they help children and teenagers through their hardest of times. They are not a very big charity, therefore any help would help truly to make a difference. I have a fundraising account on just giving and held bake sale events. There will be more coming up through the whole year. Please support and donate!”
What was the experience like on the day?
“Very overwhelming! I went very early and everything was so exhilarating. I was quite stuffed from all the food I ate the day before. I was trying to load myself up with carbohydrates. I had a decent sleep and got myself ready. All the runners were allowed free tube travel and got escorted into the tube entrance – it was such a big event, there were signs everywhere in London. I felt happy that I was getting free tube travel like a special pass, also to be part of such a big event.
Most importantly, I was super excited – I met people on the train, they asked about the charity I was running for, I spoke to many people: younger, older, professional athletes too. I didn't know what to expect and just went there with my shoes, number, snacks & water bottle. Then I went to the gate I was supposed to begin from, was quite confusing because there were so many starting points because there are over 50,000 people running that day. I lined up at my gate and boom they shot the gun and we started running.
I ran and ran, what kept me going was the cute bands playing on the street, the people cheering you on, funny costumed people, and the purpose of why I was running.
I told to myself, "no matter what, you are going to finish. You're doing it for the kids. Grandpa is watching you from the sky, You are going to finish. You will finish. Just go go go." I kept repeating those words in my head. I ran quite long, mostly jogging - however, the most time-consuming thing was... the toilets - waiting in a long line to go into them, using it and then to continue running, took a lot of time. I really liked how they had water stations and drink stations - for some reason the water tasted so good and the drinks too. There were checkpoints at each 5km - I tried to document the journey and took pictures. I would say it all went very quickly until 30km into the marathon because of everything that was going on - kept me distracted. I felt like I was on my own London tour, just without a bus but with my legs, because it was around the touristy sites throughout the whole city.
Then... after the 30km mark, I was on a runners’ high, I never experienced before.
The combination of crowds cheering, my friend and boyfriend cheering me on, live music bands, crowds of people running, sunlight in certain angles and 30km of running - I felt like a tiny tank cruising through London. Finally, the last 400m to Buckingham Palace, the finish line, I didn't really feel my legs anymore. I was really happy when I crossed the finish line, because my friends and family were tracking me online and messaged me straight away and called me. I felt like... YOU DID IT! I got my medal, gifts, and the rest is history! They were giving a free meal at certain restaurants if you showed the finishers medal - I was so happy to eat my pizza. But then following few days, oh my legs were in so much pain, I was waddling. But I did it!”
It’s a huge achievement to run a marathon, what words of advice or support would you give to other students who are looking to run one in the future?
“I would say... you don't have to have a greek-god like body or fitness level of a professional athlete.”
“When I was at the marathon, there were all types of people. There were blind runners with a guide, people in wheelchairs and just many types of people. I think a marathon is more about your own personal reason to do it and your own will to finish it. I would say... find a very meaningful reason for yourself why you want to run a marathon, and that will drive you through anything.”
If you’d like to support Mergen’s fundraising goal, you can still donate to Spread A Smile here:
How to get involved in volunteering at the London Marathon with QMSU:
Each year around December time in our weekly newsletter we will ask for potential runners to put themselves forward, explaining briefly why they would like to be chosen, and some thoughts of a training plan. Using this, one student is selected to represent the university with QMSU’s support.
If running a whole marathon is not really your thing, we also look for around 50 volunteers who receive some nice merch for the day and help support along the marathon route throughout London. You get to experience the amazing atmosphere of being part of the marathon team, contribute towards your volunteering hours for the Skills Award, and get to meet lots of other students.
If you want any more information, or want to get more involved in volunteering during your time at university, then please visit our Get Involved page or reach out on: email@example.com
Photo below shows QMSU volunteer group from mile 19 at the London Marathon.