Activities & Information Day for Children with Disabilities 24th March 2012

Sports mania

This annual event, taking place at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre is organised and hosted by UCSU, Lancaster City Council, Firbank Childrens Centre, North Lancs District Parent Carer Network.

The event enables local families with children with disabilities to access information, resources on local support agencies and for their children to participate in fun activities throughout the day. On March 24th this year, 39 families registered and enjoyed meeting other families, accessing support and taking part in the activities.


 Activities including; archery, football, tai chi, boccia, curling, sportsmania and


riding bikes around the sports track ensured the children had a thoroughly great time.



Volunteer of the Year Award 2012

Coaching & Sport Development student, Robbie George was presented with the UCSU Volunteer of the Year Award 2012 at UCSUs prestigious SUccess Awards evening in Penrith on 22nd March 2012.

In addition to giving 100% to his course Robbie also inspired a range of students & non students in a variety of volunteering roles; 

As Student Trustee, he actively ensures the Union is well governed, scrutinises Union finances & minimises risks

 As NonPortfolio Officer he planned organised & hosted a ‘Vitality Week’ of events & activities running on two campuses at the same time, located 60 miles apart to promote a healthy lifestyle. Week commencing 3rd Oct saw students & staff participating in Vitality Week sports’ taster sessions & attending health fairs on each site. Chlamydia screening, Local GPs, Fire Brigade, Easy Tiger info & advice, Zumba, egg & spoon & sack races were available to students & staff

Robbie was nominated as our Be a Champion Rep for his dedication to sport & enthusiasm for inspiring students & staff to get involved in Vitality Week health & fitness activities.He won NUS funding for weekly Olympic themed Community Art sessions run by student volunteers, at our Carlisle Brampton Road campus, keen to share their passion for art with local residents.

The legacy he leaves in the Community Art Sessions will continue to benefit Carlisle residents in future years as this will now be an annual student-led community project. This project has strengthened links with University staff & local councillors, already looking to capitalise on this, to increase community cohesion 

An instigator of change, Robbie pushed UCSU policy through to pressure the University to invest in sports facilities. This has now been accelerated in University development plans as a result

Coaching Morecambe Ladies’ Football Club has taken them to the top of their league & getting his UEFA B badge. He was in charge of putting the girls through their paces for preseason training, is keen to help the club progress & assisting with the development of a youth section

The impact he’s made on so many different groups of people demonstrates the qualities that this award seeks to recognise & makes Robbie well deserving of the Volunteer of the Year Award 2012

 “Robbie is an excellent Trustee and volunteer officer. What Robbie has achieved with and for UCSU this past 12 months, whilst undertaking such a variety of other commitments, sets a new benchmark for the standard of officers, for others to be inspired by and to aspire to. There is no better ambassador for UCSU and the University of Cumbria than Robbie George.”UCSU General Manager, Daryl Ormerod

Students in Cumbria urged to become ‘International Citizens’

UCSU Volunteering welcomed Development Minister Stephen O’Brien to our Fusehill Street, Carlisle campus on March 26th 2012, to talk to the students about the benefits of volunteering overseas.

Professor Peter Strike, the Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria joined us, as well as several young people who are part of the new International Citizen Service (ICS), a Government funded scheme which enables young people to work as volunteers in a developing country on projects to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people.

The scheme aims to contribute to helping reduce poverty overseas as well as to broaden the horizons of the young volunteers and develop skills such as team working and communications.

The Ministers office approached the University of Cumbria Students’ Union to take part after hearing about our involvement in local community volunteering.

Kati Brown, Volunteering Facilitator at the Students’ Union said: “I’m pleased that we could support this Government backed international volunteering scheme. This will encourage students who would like to further develop their experience to get involved through interacting with new cultures and helping in communities abroad.

“The Students’ Union will continue to run volunteering projects and build links with local organisations to give students the opportunity to try something different and meet new people, but also to develop skills that will make them more employable when they come to finish university.”

Stephen O’Brien said: “Encouraging and supporting greater social action is one of the Coalition Government’s top priorities. Our ICS volunteers are helping some of the world’s poorest people, demonstrating motivation and commitment overseas and in their own communities. I’d like to recognise the value of the work they are doing and encourage them to build on their experience and continue as active global citizens.”

He talked to a range of young people and students who are interested in working on aid projects overseas. A group of volunteers also talked about their experiences, including:
Thomas Stevenette, an ICS volunteer who went to Burkina Faso and is now studying History at Durham University.
Monju Meah, an ICS volunteer from Newcastle who went to El Salvador and Peru to teach English and work at a clinic, soup kitchen, community centre and elderly support network.
Anne Parker, an ICS volunteer from Newcastle, who went to Nepal.
Rachel Dawson, an ICS volunteer who lives in Carlisle and will be going to Swaziland next month.

Olympics Inspired Community Arts Project, Carlisle

The University of Cumbria Students’ Union (UCSU) was granted £1000 by the NUS Be a Champion Project to run student led community art sessions in Carlisle for 2 hours a week during February and March 2012. Robbie George, a 3rd year sports student and Elected Student Officer based at the Lancaster campus made the bid and was awarded the funding saying “Its amazing that the potential of this project has been recognised enough for the NUS Be a Champion campaign to grant us this huge sum”.

The aim of the project was to provide an opportunity for local residents and students to come together through a shared interest in the arts. The project was based on the Olympic Values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence and supported the development of community relationships, with students sharing their passion and talents with the local people of Cumbria.

Through volunteer road shows and recruitment drives at the various campus’s the Students’ Union engaged students who were inspired by the Olympic Values and felt they could make a difference to others through volunteering.

The group of 14 volunteers who took part were from a diverse range of communities and backgrounds and had different ideas and thoughts to share on how the project could work. The group were encouraged to take ownership of the project from the start, making decisions on how the sessions should run, including equipment and resources needed and exploring how they could showcase the Olympic values in the activities they delivered.

Once a team of volunteers was established the Students’ Union promoted the free, Olympic themed arts sessions to the local community through Community partnership meetings, through getting out and talking to residents in the local area and contacting local charities and third sector organisations. The project attracted a diverse range of participants of different ages and abilities and included a group of adults with learning difficulties from Heathlands, GlenmoreTrust who used the art sessions as part of their OCN qualification in Art.

The project was broken down into 4 main areas of Drawing, Painting, Arts and Craft and Photography and whilst volunteers and participants weren’t expected to attend every session most of those involved enjoyed the project so much after the first few sessions they wanted to attend all the others.

The Union and the volunteers made the most of the University art facilities and equipment and gave local residents a unique opportunity to try new things in an inspiring environment, learning from and enjoying the company of such enthusiastic student volunteers. For most students this was their first time volunteering and the students, although nervous initially, throughout the project began to develop confidence and build their communication skills with individuals putting themselves forward to run a number of activities which made up the 2 hour sessions.

The sessions started with volunteers meeting and greeting the participants and making them feel welcome and comfortable before they engaged in the activities. For the Drawing and painting sessions everyone was asked to bring in an item that to them represented friendship, excellence or respect which promoted conversations, with people sharing their stories with one another and finding common interests. The volunteers then led fun activities to help the participants improve their drawing and gave them encouragement to help them feel confident and have the courage to give things a go.

Having such a wide mix of student talent meant that each session was different to the last. The photography sessions had a presentation on the history of photography and the opportunity to learn how to use SLR cameras and take pictures around campus. The presentations were led by students on a photography course, giving them an opportunity to put their presentation skills learnt on their course into practice. Other volunteers were also able to help by offering positive encouragement to participants, and offering support where needed.

Friendships developed between groups of people who, without taking part in the project may have never had the opportunity to meet and most volunteers and participants would stay after the sessions to join each other and the SU team in the canteen to reflect on their experiences.

The students who have taken part in this project, whilst having a rewarding experience, have also developed employability and transferable skills, such as team work, communication, time management and leadership, all of which will help them in the future. The Students’ Union has supported the volunteers throughout the project, through meeting regularly and frequent communication and we will continue to support the volunteers, by running an employability workshop and keeping them informed of other volunteering and training opportunities.

100% of the participants who filled out evaluation forms on the project said that the things they gained from attending the sessions were having fun, trying something different and positive interaction with the student community. 90% said they learnt new skills and made new friends, with 60% saying that the sessions sparked an interest in other areas, with some participants now volunteering themselves after being inspired by the students.

On 20th June the Olympic Torch will be passing through Carlisle and the volunteers and participants will come together to display their Olympic themed art exhibition in the Carlisle City Council Civic Centre from 15th – 22nd June. They will showcase all the work from the art sessions, including photos, paintings, drawing and cards made in Arts and Crafts sessions.

The Students’ union are very grateful to the NUS Be a Champion project for the grant given to support the Community Art Sessions and following the success of the project we are already getting a number of inquiries to see if a similar project will be running in the future.