Volunteers' Week 2021

Volunteers' Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It's a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.

Throughout the week, we will be updating this page with stories from our student volunteers and partner organisations, so make sure to check back everyday! If you have volunteered this year and would like to share your story, contact us at su-volunteering@qmul.ac.uk

Learn more about Volunteers' Week: https://volunteersweek.org/ 

NSVAs - Monday 7 June

The annual National Societies and Volunteering Awards took place in April, and two of our wonderful volunteering groups were?longlisted!?? 

The Community Award – SAMDA? 

Student Assisted Medical and Dental Applications (SAMDA) is a volunteering group based at Barts and The London. They are dedicated to supporting sixth form students in local state schools as they take their first steps towards a career in medicine or dentistry.  

SAMDA converted their school visits into an email-based, one-to-one buddy scheme between current medical/dental students and aspiring school students. They also started a YouTube channel and live-streamed several events including a Clinician’s Evening, Skills Session, UCAT Day and Interview Crash Course. The channel received over 7,600 views, with each video reaching more than 300 people during the livestream. SAMDA reached a wider audience across the globe including in the UK, USA, India, Pakistan, Canada, Turkey, Indonesia, Philippines, and Saudi Arabia! 

The Wellbeing Award –?OpenMinds? 

OpenMinds is a volunteering group based at Barts and The London that provides mental health education to school students by training university students to deliver workshops in local schools. 

OpenMinds ran the "healthy habits for healthy minds" workshop for BL men's football's Mental Health Week. It involved tips about working from home, implementing mindfulness in everyday activities and a guided mindfulness full body scan. They collated the experiences of their volunteers, especially first years, surrounding moving to university, adapting to university and being away from home, into a school pack to send to children in sixth form which will be completed and sent over summer, ready for the new academic year. 

See the full longlist and winners here: https://www.organised.fun/nsvas-longlist? 

COVID Volunteers - Friday 4 June

Several of our students have volunteered with various organisations supporting Covid-19 efforts. 

We spoke to Keagan Witts, a second year Medicine student who volunteers with St Johns Ambulance. Here’s what he had to say, 

“Throughout COVID I’ve had the opportunity to learn new skills, train members of the public to step up and support the NHS through hospital volunteering & vaccination volunteering, and have had the opportunity to learn & apply these skills myself. I’ve learnt and grown so much over the last year, and whilst I haven’t been able to get as involved as I would have wanted because of family health, it’s been extremely rewarding to do something to give back and see how people from all walks of life have come together to support the NHS and country as a whole.” 

Gold Volunteering Hours Awards - Thursday 3 June

The Gold Volunteering Hours award is for those who have completed 100 hours or more of volunteering through our volunteering groups, with our partner charities, or our one-off volunteering opportunities.??Any hours completed before 31st July 2021 will count towards a Gold Volunteering Hours Award for this academic year. 

The Gold Volunteering Hours award can be added to your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR). Find out how to log your hours:? https://www.qmsu.org/volunteering/getinvolved/.

Our Gold Volunteering Hours Awards winners this year are:? 

  • Daniella Reyes, 102 hours
  • Saumya Garg, 136 hours
  • Matthew Kenyon, 177 hours
  • Keagan Witts, 420 hours

Daniella, a first Medicine, student spoke about her experience of volunteering, 

"Volunteering in the hospital especially during COVID times has been an extremely rewarding experience albeit the circumstances. As an infant feeding volunteer, I teach mothers breastfeeding techniques which is a much more difficult task than people think. Due to the restrictions, mothers have had limited contact with their partners and families, making the transition to being a new mother far more difficult. Upon witnessing the?struggles?they face by their bedside, I am glad I was able to make a difference to the duration of their stay and make breastfeeding a less painful and more rewarding experience for her and her newborn.”? 

Sustainability - Wednesday 2 June

A number of our volunteering activities have also contributed to our sustainability aims.  

Hedgehog Friendly Campus  

This year Queen Mary joined the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme, which is designed to make our campuses places where hedgehogs can thrive. Zoology Student Taylor Sanzari led a team of student volunteers who undertook activities including creating hedgehog houses on campus, making sure our grounds teams are aware of what to do if they find a distressed hedgehog, putting stickers on our gardening equipment to alert users to potential danger to hedgehogs, holding hedgehog awareness activities and raising money for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.  

Campus Biodiversity Volunteering  

Nearly 100 students have been involved with our campus biodiversity volunteering opportunities to help enhance the green spaces on our campuses with the support of Grounds and Gardens supervisor Dimi. For the largest event in December, 20 student volunteers joined staff from the Grounds team to plant 60 apple and pear trees and 190 gooseberry and wild raspberry shrubs in the areas surrounding student accommodation at Mile End campus.  

Grace McMeekin, the Students’ Union Sustainability Officer who came along to the planting day said 

‘It’s a really exciting project and it was amazing to see so many people helping to make it happen. The orchard will be brilliant for increasing biodiversity on campus and allowing students to enjoy in years to come.’  

Since then we’ve hosted a number of allotment, seed giveaways and growing sessions to help plant out vegetables and care for plants across campuses and hope to continue these regular opportunities next year.  

Bow Foodbank - Tuesday 1 June

This year we have had 34 students volunteer for a total of 259 hours! Every Monday morning we send a group of student volunteers to help out at Bow Foodbank. The Foodbank’s organisers told us, 

“We value the contribution made by the students and benefit from the drive and energy they bring. Many students have remained as long term volunteers since graduating”  

Here is what one of our students, Zahra Bari, had to say about the experience:  

“I chose to volunteer at Bow Foodbank because I wanted to immerse myself in the community to help make a difference to the people. After having completed my final exams for the year it was something perfect for me to make good use of the time that I have available.  

For me the experience has been very positive and I enjoyed every minute of it. The people there are very friendly and more than willing to assist you and you get to connect to people and share stories.  

Volunteering is immensely rewarding and fulfilling and I would say for me it is seeing the smiles on people when leaving. For me it is the sense of warmth in my heart every time I get groceries for someone and the fact that I get to work alongside other like-minded people who are all striving to make a positive difference in everything they do.” 

Bow Foodbank Holiday Appeal

Over the holiday period, the Green Mary student sustainability group ran an appeal to support the work of Bow Foodbank. Calling on the wider student and staff community at Queen Mary to get involved by donating unwanted food, some spare change or their time to volunteer.  

Mary Cousins, a final year student involved in organising the appeal said,  

“Bow Food Bank reported that the number of people requiring food aid every week has multiplied by eight since the pandemic began — a massive increase in demand, which the food bank is struggling to meet. Since Queen Mary is right in the middle of the Tower Hamlets community, I think it's really important that, if we can help, we should” 

Through organising collection points on campus the students were able to collect over 200 items of food and toiletries to deliver to the foodbank as well as raising £400 via an online fundraiser.  

Click here to sign up to volunteer with Bow Foodbank.

 

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