Sometimes University can feel like a big bubble. Most of the time this can be great, but it can make you feel disconnected from the wider community, if you’re not getting involved with things in the area you live in. A great way to connect with the community is through volunteering; you get to help tackle social issues and connect with other people and organisations in the area.
Southampton Hub is part of a wider national charity that offers great volunteering placements in the community that help tackle a range of social issues. Our projects include:
- School Plus – tackles educational disadvantage by having university students go into local schools to tutor, support in lessons and run after school and lunch time clubs.
- Code plus – a program that teaches students in primary and secondary school how to code (you don’t even need to know how to code to take part, we teach you all you need to know).
- Libraries plus – provides homework clubs for all young people in the local libraries during evenings and weekends.
- Empower – a 1:1 6 week mentoring program where we match university students with secondary school pupils to help with a range of things such as confidence, goal setting and self-esteem.
- Active – a 6 week mentoring program based around sports and activities for 11-15 year olds.
- Branch Up – a program for local disadvantaged 7-11 year old children where you take them out on fun activity days.
- Branch Up Active – similar to ‘Branch Up‘ but for disadvantaged 11-14 years olds.
- Invent Plus – a program to encourage children to learn about engineering by doing engineering workshops with primary school children.
- Linkages – our inter-generational project that tackles loneliness in older people and bridges the gap between generations.
- BioCycle – a food waste recycling scheme where we take food waste from student houses to a local farm that uses it for composting.
- Local Action – a program that provides one off volunteering opportunities, offering a little bit of everything.
What is great about volunteering is that you don’t just do good in the community, but it can also benefit you. In the Student Hubs impact report from last year showed that:
- 74% of student volunteers improved their ability to lead others to make change
- 86% of student volunteers said that it increased their confidence in approaching challenges
- 83% of volunteers think that being involved in the Hub has enhanced their university experience
In this way, volunteering doesn’t just benefit the community, but can have an impact on yourself as well. I personally love to volunteer. It gives me a break from university work, and has helped me to improve a bunch of skills such as leadership, teamwork, public talking, confidence, and time management. Below are some quotes from some of our awesome volunteers which highlight how much they love our projects:
Schools Plus volunteer:
I love helping the children each week [and]seeing children return week after week growing in confidence … I really like the variety of topics I get to engage with, as well as the variety of children from different backgrounds and of different ages. This is one of my highlights of the week – I love it.
Branch Up volunteer:
I love spending the day with the children and being a mentor to them, so they have someone to look up to and improve their future aspirations. The days are a lot of fun and I love seeing how much Branch Up means to them.
We always hear how volunteering helps with employability and the reason we hear this so much is because it’s so true! Volunteering lets you gain real life experience and helps to build skills that will be wanted by future employers. But what makes Southampton Hub so great for future employability is that they are part of their own grad scheme ‘Worthwhile’. This grad scheme is in the charity sector and works with smaller charities such as Southampton Hub. They help you get a job in the sector and provide training at the same time. But even if you don’t want to work in this sector, the experiences and skills you gain volunteering will be desirable in any sectors and help to give you more of an edge in the competitive markets.
A big misconception of volunteering is that it takes up a lot of time, but this is simply not true. All our projects have different time commitments to fit into everyone’s schedule. School Plus, for example, is a weekly programme, whereas Local Action runs a couple of one of events across the semester. Even the projects that are weekly won’t take up much of your time, with Empower session for example being a mere 45 minutes a week. So taking part in volunteering still gives you enough time to do all your normal activities such as binge watching TV, going to the gym, hanging out with your friends, and even writing a dissertation!
So really the take home message is that volunteering is awesome and everyone should do it. If you are looking for such opportunities, Southampton Hub is a great place to start, because even though this is part of a national charity, the Hub is student led and cares about your experience. If you want to apply for our programs, go to our website and have a look at the projects that are recruiting: https://www.southamptonhub.org/