Thursday, 21 June 2012

Two Celebrations of Volunteer Achievement!

In my last blog I talked about the benefits of volunteering, so it seems apt now to write about some of KUSU’s regular volunteers and what has been happening in the last month in the world of KUSU Volunteering. 
Bird and Bat Box Building Event and End-of-Year Celebratory Barbecue!

On Wednesday 30th May, KUSU Volunteering had an end-of-year celebratory event for our volunteers! We organised an awesome barbeque, (even if we do say so ourselves!) which was complete with cupcakes for pudding! KUSU volunteers asked to make bird and bat boxes beforehand, which KUSCO’s Bruce Lloyd and Kingston University’s Biodiversity and Landscape Administrator Lynsey Stafford supervised. Students made 12 bird and bat boxes in total, all of which will make lovely wildlife homes, as well as increase the biodiversity of the local area. The combined volunteer and celebratory event took place on the lovely and serene Kingston Hill nature trail, which you should check out if you have never been there before. On a side note I’m hoping to run some volunteering opportunities in partnership with Lynsey Stafford and the Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group (KUBAG) in semester one of academic year 2012-2013, where we will do some rhododendron clearance on the nature trail – which for the non-green-fingered bunch of you means cutting down this particular type of plant because it has a negative impact on the woodland ecosystem! I shall email this one-off opportunity out nearer the time, so if you would like to spend a few hours getting some fresh air and helping out, make sure you register your interest in volunteering, so that I have you on our mailing list! 

As well as our barbecue and bird/bat box building event, we also had our annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony this month at the very beautiful Dorich House Museum! This event was to celebrate the volunteering commitment of certain Kingston University students, who have gone above and beyond and really shone in the roles they have been volunteering at, this last academic year. The Vice Chancellor of Kingston University, Professor Julius Weinburg opened the event speaking of the difference volunteering made to the community and his pride in the positive dynamic it brings to Kingston University.“Boasting isn’t usually a good thing,” he said “but sometimes I don’t think we boast enough. You can all be very proud of the work you do volunteering and the experiences it’s brought you.” 

This year’s KUSU Volunteering Award winners are: 
Volunteer Project of the Year: Charlotte Buck and Imogen Morris
Charlotte and Imogen put on three day-long drawing, painting and art history workshops at Hollyfield Secondary School. Unfortunately Charlotte and Imogen were unable to attend the awards ceremony, but will be coming into the KUSU Volunteering Office soon to collect their award, certificates and medals and we hope to get a photograph of them then!

Community Volunteer of the Year: Madiha Khan
Madiha volunteers with the British Red Cross, assessing the needs of and helping to devise care plans for patients who have returned home from a traumatic stay at hospital.  Red Cross coordinator Debby Mulling said, “Madiha has shown us that she is a quick learner with a high standard of service.”

School Volunteer of the Year: Amy Wheatley
Amy spent many hours helping in the classroom and on the playground of Tolworth Junior School. Tolworth staff recognised her for her great relationship with the pupils and her ‘above and beyond’ attitude. 

Best Newcomer: Sara Ann Hope
For two full days every week, Sarah supports two special needs students at Southborough High School with their class work. The special education team describes her as “brilliant and wonderful”. 
Best One-Off Volunteer
Natasha May Chinnery was recognised for taking part in nine one-off volunteering projects this year including fundraisers for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and mental health charity MIND.

Be A Champion
The Rugby, American Football and Cheerleading clubs were also commended for their involvement in the ‘Be a Champion’ project which encouraged sports clubs to start their own volunteering project. The Rugby club were awarded the Be A Champion trophy for their volunteering project.
Volunteer England Gold: Emma Lindner, Derryn Lovett and Rachael Penzo
This nationally recognised award was given to Emma, Derryn and Rachael for their achievement, dedication and leadership within volunteering. Unfortunately Derren was unable to attend the awards ceremony, but he will be coming into the KUSU Volunteering Office soon to collect his award, certificate and medal and we hope to get a photograph of him then!
All of the award winners received a glass award, certificate and medal for the award they were nominated for and won. It was a lovely day and the students gave us feedback after the event that they really enjoyed coming up on the stage and being presented with their award by Vice Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg. They said it felt as prestigious as a graduation event. It was particularly wonderful seeing students’ family and friends getting to take part in the celebrations and see them collect their awards. Afterwards everyone got to enjoy a delicious buffet and drinks in the settings of Dorich House, before having their photo taken on the open-air-top roof! 
Jemma Houghton and Alex Britton
KUSU Volunteer Co-ordintors

New Volunteering Coordinator - Jemma Houghton

Hello everyone! I just thought I’d write a blog to introduce myself - My name is Jemma Houghton and I’m the new Volunteering Co-ordinator in KUSU Volunteering. I can’t believe I have been here a month already – the time has flown by, what with settling in, working on the BirdBox-Building and BBQ celebration event, the KUSU Volunteering Awards Ceremony and now preparing for the Vice Chancellor’s Civic Reception!
For those of you who have not met me yet, I will be looking after One-Off Volunteering Opportunities and Student-Led Volunteering Projects. Alex Britton my lovely colleague (the other Volunteering Coordinator in KUSU Volunteering) will continue to look after Community Volunteering and Schools Volunteering.

If you are not sure what any of these four categories of volunteering are, you can click on the hyperlinks which will take you to more information about the type of volunteering we offer here at Kingston University Students’ Union!

I just want to take this opportunity to say that if you have never volunteered before and want to find out more please pop by and see either myself or Alex in the Student’s Union on Penrhyn Road Campus. We’re really friendly and there’s no commitment to sign up to anything. We’ll just have a chat with you about volunteering, what you know, what you don’t, what you might be interested in and then you can go away and have a think about it! If you want to get involved, then that’s great, but if it’s not for you then that’s alright! There are plenty of other things you can get involved in at KUSU such as joining a sports club or a society, standing for a position at the elections etc!

...Back to volunteering though!
Lots of people volunteer at charities or not-for-profit organisations for different reasons. There’s no right or wrong reason to volunteer... Some people do it to meet new people and make new friends, other people have skills they want to share with the local community, some people just want to give something back, some people are bored and want to get involved in something exciting, whereas others do it to increase their work experience, to put it on their CV and to gain some life experience.

If any of these reasons spark an interest in you then you should check out KUSU Volunteering! There are so many different opportunities to get involved in – there really is something for everyone. And if there is not, then let us know and we will do our best to accommodate your needs!

I’ve volunteered at a range of not-for-profit organisations and at many-a-charity event over the last 9 years and have loved every single moment of it. Giving my time and skills to help the local community, or to help small or large charities gives me a feeling that is hard to describe. The best way I can put it, is that I get a warm, happy feeling in my heart. Volunteering lets you be the best possible person you can be, it allows you to meet inspirational people you’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise, you get to develop your skill-set, be supported along every step of the way and most importantly make a positive difference in other people’s lives. It’s one of the key reasons why I work in this sector because I want to help facilitate more people getting involved in volunteering, so that they can help others, as well as experiencing the wonderful benefits that volunteering brings.

All in all, it’s been a very busy month, and both Alex Britton and I are now preparing for Kingston University’s Civic Reception. If you didn’t get around to volunteering this academic year, don’t worry because there are still volunteering opportunities trickling in over the summer and before you know it, it’ll be Freshers’ Week and then London Student Volunteering Fortnight (Saturday 27th October 2012 – Saturday 10th November 2012) where we will have lots of taster volunteering activities you can try out!

All the best,
Jemma Houghton
KUSU Volunteer Co-ordinator

Ps. Remember we’re on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Volunteering at the Virgin London Marathon!

Michaela with the team of other volunteers
My name is Michaela and during my first year at Kingston University I used the opportunity to volunteer at the Virgin London Marathon 2012. We were given inflatable bang sticks and our job was to cheer as loud as we could every time runners for The Prostate Cancer Charity were passing by to show them our support. I found myself really enjoying the atmosphere – everyone in our cheering group was enthusiastic, the sun was shining and supporting all the brave people felt amazing. Even though it might seem that this kind of volunteering does not make much difference, it does. We had some feedback from the runners - they really appreciated all of our cheers as it really pushed them on. Some even said they might not have finished the marathon if it wasn't for our cheers!

I am happy to have been a part of such a huge event as the Virgin London Marathon. In fact, it was even more fulfilling and inspiring for me than I would have imagined – after having spent a day watching all the wonderful and determined people (many in creative, funny costumes) running for a good cause, I realised I would love to join them one day so finishing the London Marathon and raising money for charity is now on my lifetime to-do list :)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Volunteering at The Moonwalk London 2012

Cecilia volunteering at the Moonwalk 2012
My name is Cecilia and this is my fourth year at Kingston University. I decided to go straight from my Bachelor degree onto a Masters degree in Media and Communication. Although postgraduate courses may seem like a full-time committment to studying in the library, I have balanced my study-load with engaging in extra-curricular activities! And what’s better than feeling appreciated for volunteering  on a worthwhile cause?! The volunteering team at Kingston University Students’ Union have provided me with numerous opportunities to participate in one-off volunteering events throughout the year.

Some volunteering opportunities might be within your field of interests, some might make your CV shine, but for me the most important thing is to give back to the community. In return for this I’ve also had some  really memorable experiences.

Last month in the midst of reading, research and wild essay writing I received an email from KUSU Volunteering which caught my eye – the chance to volunteer at The Moon Walk London 2012.

Women taking part in the Moonwalk 2012
This is an event which gathers close up to 17,000 cheerful, determined and amazing individuals who complete a marathon to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. A few days later on 12th May 2012, I found myself at a check point on a deserted street, centred between Vauxhall and Waterloo. The bright lights, immense pink tents and the pulse of the increasingly crowded Hyde Park still flash in my mind. I checked the time - it was 1:45am. I observed movement in the horizon, and suddenly hordes of women, of all ages, with colourful, sparkling and creative bras and outfits passed before me. I also saw one very independent blind teenage girl, as well as some men accompany some of the women in The Moon Walk London 2012.

So what was the actual event like from a volunteer’s point-of-view? Well we were extremely looked after by the group leaders –they were welcoming and caring; we were taken by bus to and from the tent area in Hyde Park and we were provided with a kit of necessities, including lots of food, hot drinks and snacks throughout the night. It was cold and sometimes tiring standing in one spot for the whole night, but the walkers were cheerful and we encouraged them the best we possibly could.

This volunteering experience is so valuable to me. It felt amazing volunteering at the event, predominantly because it was for such a great cause. I’m glad that my cheering and encouragement of the runners helped spur them on to do their best. I like to think that my smiles and clapping played a role in their achievement of crossing the finishing line after more than a five hours walk through the streets of London at night. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...