On Wednesday 21st October, UCSU Volunteers travelled to Kincraig School in Blackpool to deliver activities designed to raise the Key Stage 2 pupils’ aspirations. The visit was planned as part of the school’s ‘careers week’ where professionals from a variety of backgrounds talked to the pupils about their work and how they got to where they are today.
UCSU Volunteers, who were all trainee teachers, presented ‘University Life’ to the children and encouraged them to think about their dream job and what they need to do to achieve it. The activities included a ‘runaround quiz’ with the children running to the appropriate corner in the school hall to answer the multiple choice questions about the University of Cumbria.
All 67 pupils in Key Stage 2 received a booklet entitled ‘What is University Like?’ compiled by our volunteers, a University of Cumbria pencil and a UCSU Yoyo! The children were absolutely fab, they listened well and thought about the kinds of jobs they’d be interested in. They even hugged us when it was time to go. Pictures to follow!
As a grand finale to Volunteering Week, UCSU Volunteering, in partnership with Vinvolved Cumbria, hosted our first ever Community Challenge on Saturday 10th October.
UCSU Volunteers signed up to prepare and host a party for 50 mystery guests arriving at 4.30pm, for a two-hour party. The students were told that the party would be held in Botcherby Community Centre in Carlisle. Minibuses transported volunteers from Lancaster, Ambleside and Penrith and met students from Carlisle at the community centre.
On arrival at Botcherby Community Centre it was announced that the party guests would all be aged between 70 and 95 and that they had been invited to a Tea Dance run by University of Cumbria Students’ Union volunteers.
After an initial health & safety briefing, the volunteers began to make sandwiches, bake cakes (yes real home cooking!), inflate balloons, transform the room into a party venue, make an exhibition of World War II memorabilia, photos and clothing courtesy of Tullie House, create a presentation of old posters to project onto the wall, host a game of bingo and a raffle.
Among the 35 volunteers who participated in the Community Challenge, 8 of them were Hong Kong students who are studying at Lancaster until Christmas. They thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in some volunteering activities whilst they are staying in the UK and will be able to take their UCSU Volunteering certificate home with them when they return to Hong Kong.
The whole day was such a fantastic success with young and old mixing together. Helen Fisher, Manager of Botcherby Community Centre, praised our volunteers. She said, “Our members were so touched by the kindness of the young people, who made the day a truly remarkable event.”
Wow. So I have nominated myself to keep you updated on our quest to collect 25,000 books and raise £7,500 to send said books over to Tanzania. Hopefully these little snippets of my and my fellow volunteers’ task will interest you and perhaps even lead to you becoming involved in this amazing charity.
I first heard about READ through UCSU Volunteering, and being a believer that education is key to fulfilling dreams and ambitions, thought the charity was based on an extremely sound ethos. This, combined with the opportunity of being able to go to Tanzania and the simplicity of it all, I was sold. I applied straight away and couldn’t wait for the training weekend, especially when I discovered three of my friends had also applied.
We had the training days in September and straight away, just meeting and talking to the people from READ and other volunteers made us realise just how special this task is. Everyone was extremely passionate about the charity and this immediately rubbed off on us. We learned how READ International was set up by students like ourselves in Nottingham University by a few enthusiastic individuals just six years ago.
Packed off with our toolkit, handbooks and a bucket load of inspiration, we travelled back to University on the Monday and started work straight away. By Tuesday we had had a meeting with Emma, the Students’ Union Volunteer Coordinator and secured stalls at both the Fresher’s fair and volunteer fairs the following week.
Currently I am working on securing free storage for our 25,000 books, whilst Becci is contacting various people around the university to publicise our cause. Becka has been organising our stalls for the upcoming events and Nicky, who is not currently in Lancaster, has been brainstorming fundraising ideas.
Please log onto our blog to follow our progress and stay informed of our baby steps towards our massive goals. If this inspires you and you fancy becoming a volunteer or getting involved in any way, please contact us through the website, by joining our group on facebook or through Emma Egglestone in the Students’ Union.
I was eager to find something to fill the long summer break and as job prospects back home in Hinckley weren’t great I got in touch with the University of Cumbria Students’ Union volunteering service to see what opportunities there were.
I was very lucky that Emma in the Students’ Union arranged for me to use my experience that I had with working with young people who have special educational needs, for a week working as a buddy for a 24 year old man who has tourettes and other learning difficulties. I was to stay with him at the Bendrigg Trust on their Outdoors Activities Week in the Lake District.
Before I went to the Centre at the end of August, I met with Dan’s mum, up in Lancaster and she seemed really keen and
supportive of me getting involved. I also got a train over to Stroud in Gloucestershire to meet Dan himself. that alone was a fantastic day going to a part of the country I have never really visited. The place was really picturesque, the complete opposite of Birmingham new street station, in fact where I was stuck waiting for connections. I got back to Hinckley with mixed emotions about what my role would be and how useful the skills I have would be.
I met with Dan, his mum and her partner in Lancaster on bank holiday Monday and I was worried about lots of things, being too inexperienced for Dan, not enjoying myself, Dan not enjoying himself. Writing this blog four weeks later I can see how misplaced these worries were. I had a fantastic time, and I can remember thinking to myself on several occasions that it really didn’t feel like I was volunteering. It was more like the world’s most amazing working holiday.
In total there were around 40 people who were staying at the Bendrigg Trust Centre just outside Kendal, many were like me volunteers or carers. The week was very full on; the first full day there myself and Dan were kayaking on rydal water in the pouring rain, everyone got thoroughly soaked but it was great, the leaders set up a walk way between two kayaks and I found myself falling in while trying to negotiate it. The week was full of new and exciting activities that I never imagined myself doing, including a 75foot abseil at a disused quarry. The whole group went to the pub and there was a disco at the end of the week too, which was a fantastic way to end the week.
The rapport myself and Dan established with everyone else was really fantastic and I learned so many things. I learned how tolerant two years at uni have made me, as Dan’s tourettes was at times quite hard to cope with especially late at night. I also learned that there is no better feeling than seeing people thoroughly enjoying themselves regardless of whatever problems they may have. Best of all, I learned that volunteering this summer was one of the best uses I could have made of my time, better than being sat in front of the tv for days on end waiting for the new term to start.
I definitely would recommend doing something like this, if you have the time to commit to doing something as worthwhile as volunteering. Oh and it looks ace on your CV to boot!