The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Megan Mann at the Students’ Union Swish Awards Evening on Wednesday 18th March. Megan has been working with the Play Inclusion Project in Lancaster & Morecambe which provides support for Children and Young People with Special Needs, allowing them to access and enjoy evening leisure activities. Since launching the PIP project in Lancaster, Emma Mitchell has set up a bowling group for children with special needs, on Thursday evenings in Morecambe. UCSU Volunteer, Megan Mann, agreed to start and run this group with her. Prior to starting they had to do numerous visits to families to talk about the bowling group and introduce themselves. These appointments were over several days in the evenings and Megan was more than happy to go along.
Emma can’t praise Megan enough. She says, ‘Since the group started Megan has been there every week without fail, picked up other volunteers to bring them to the group, and is always punctual. She is happy to take on the supervisory role, and fully supports all the children and volunteers at the group.’ Megan has also run the group, with another PIP staff member, on a week that Emma could not attend.
Emma adds, ‘I find Megan is a very giving, caring person, who has wonderful qualities allowing her to bond with the children in the group, ensuring they feel secure and happy. I cannot praise her enough, as without her I could not have started the group so successfully.’
In addition to working with the PIP project, Megan has actively led the Students’ Union Outdoors Society and has been heavily involved in running the SEN Society where she has promoted volunteering opportunities to its members.
On Wednesday 18th March four UCSU volunteers accessed a free training course on working with Visually Impaired children. After looking at the different kinds of visual impairments we were able to carry out everyday tasks with a variety of simulated visual impairments, such as blurred vision, tunnel vision to being completely blindfolded. Some of the tasks included listening to a story being read to us, basic cutting, sticking and colouring activities, making models out of play-doh and making a jam sandwich. See the photos below…
The National Student Volunteering Conference took place from 6th– 8th March. Two students from the University of Cumbria, Jef Pedley and Alan Cree benefited from a selection of training and informative workshops in relation to a whole variety of subjects; setting up student-led projects, project management, creativity in volunteering, using drama in volunteering, volunteering and the law, managing student-led projects. We were also able to network and socialise with other student volunteers, volunteer co-ordinators and managers from across the country and attend a show-case of student-led volunteering projects.
‘The weekend was full of informative workshops led by very experienced speakers. I learned about a wide range of subjects from fundraising and social enterprise, to creative planning and community liaison. However, I was particularly impressed with the volunteer showcases and student-led projects which have motivated me and given me confidence to make a difference at the University of Cumbria. I ended up with pages and pages of volunteering ideas and my head is full of potential projects which, with the advice given, I would love to set up in Lancaster through UCSU Volunteering.’ Jeff Pedley
On 25th February UCSU Volunteers from Newton Rigg, Ambleside & Lancaster joined over 80 other student volunteers from Further & Higher Educational Institutions across the North West, at beacon Park in West Lancashire. The main activity of the day was coppicing. Basically we were cutting hazel trees right back to just above ground level in a part of the woodland selected by the Park Wardens. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to make a huge difference in half a day. When we had finished we all enjoyed a delicious hot buffet lunch in the Golf Club next door! Fantastic!