Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Knit Hats For Babies Project

KUSU Volunteering offers Kingston student's the opportunity to run their own volunteering projects. Rachael our winner of the Project of the Year Award back in May gave us this update on the project that bagged her the award.   

Hi, I’m Rachael, a second year Biomedical Science student, and I run the volunteering opportunity ‘Knit Hats for Babies’!

Knitters met regularly at the Students' Union
The project was started way back in 2009, by an American student by the name of Lisa Ta. She ran the project to knit hats for babies that are currently in the Neonatal Unit at Kingston Hospital NHS Trust. It was an awe-inspiring project, and when she handed over the reins to me, it allowed me to make this project my own.

Since then we’ve had amazing turnouts, especially during Student Volunteering Week. My own personal goal for the project was to make 100 hats by the end of the summer term. We already have over 150 hats, with more than 50 volunteers showing interest in the project. We also make booties and blankets, and it’s not just knitting; I also teach volunteers how to crochet if they so wish!

Rachael and some of the group at our awards
Running your own project requires a serious amount of organisation and dedication, but it pays off when you see how successful it becomes. Budgeting is definitely not my strongest point (this includes inputting how much you’ve been spending into a spreadsheet), but I do have a very money-savvy head on my shoulders, so I can tell when I see a bargain on wool! I have also created a Facebook page, a mailing address, and a Junction49 page to help organise the project. It is difficult to fit the project in to my weekly routine, but it means I can use my free time doing something productive. Besides, once you see your first completed baby hat, I guarantee you’ll be hooked into making more!

I believe the project not only gives people the chance to volunteer for a good cause, but it also allows them to acquire a new skill and show off their creative sides, to socialise with people of similar interests, and gives them a safe haven once a week where they can take a break from the stress of everyday student life. 

Knitting during Student Volunteering Week
For more information about the charity itself visit their website here. For more information about the project or if you’re interested in joining, please contact me at

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Orange Rockcorps

KUSU Volunteer Gemma sent us this update on volunteering that she has been getting up to recently... with star studded results!

"2011 was my third year doing Orange Rockcorps. (RockCorps for those not in the know runs yearly and offers those who volunteer on one of their projects a ticket to a gig they organise). This year I managed to persuade four friends who are avid KU volunteers to do the volunteering side - Rachael and Chandy who had never done Rockcorps before and Crystel and Gary who have done a project with me last year. The reasons why more of them didn’t join in was because they were busy either on the day we decided to do the project or the day of the gig, or because the line-up didn’t interest them for the gig. Last year I managed to persuade more of them to do it because the line-up hadn’t been announced yet for the London gig! 

This year they merged both the Manchester and London gigs, which are normally two months apart. They also moved the London venue from Earls Court to Wembley Arena as it holds a greater capacity, which was rather amusing as the tube from Wembley Park closes at 00:30 and the gig overran by an hour, so 11,000 people running to the station making sure they wouldn't get left behind is kind of hilarious - looking back on it of course, at the time it was sheer panic!

Modelling ponchos to keep the rain off at the project!

The project, which was in Finsbury park, was fun. Unfortunately it was raining on the day so we couldn’t do painting as planned but we managed to do lots of weeding instead. It was nice to see the before and after shots. They gave us lunch as well – the standard sandwich, crisps & drink - which is always nice after hard work! 

For the gig itself, Rachael and Gary couldn’t attend so two of my other friends, Hana and Husna, who also volunteer with KU, were able to go.  The line-up for the gig was originally Eliza Doolitttle, Jessie J and Primal Scream when we signed up. Unfortunately Jessie J was advised to pull out by her doctors due to her leg injury, much to my disappointment as I was really looking forward to seeing her but Kelis and Diddy Dirty Money were announced which softened the blow! A special surprise guest which Diddy brought on was Chipmunk which I thoroughly enjoyed. A “to be confirmed” guest was also on the bill which turned out to be Wretch 32 – which most of the crowd seemed to enjoy.

It was such an amazing gig! All the artists put on a great show. Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw did a great job of presenting. The DJ between sets knew exactly what songs to play to get the crowd hyped up! There’s something so empowering about knowing that everyone around you earned their ticket and didn’t buy it - such a great atmosphere! It’s been four days and my voice is still sore from all the screaming!

Wembley Arena
For those of you who have heard about Rockcorps and been tempted – once again I’d say go for it! If you’re not able to wait a year then look into the Collective – if you enjoy volunteering or volunteer regularly then seriously, it’s worth it!
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