Monday, 29 October 2012

Volunteer Event Supporter - Prostate Cancer UK

Hi my name is Natalie Flower and I’m a third year Child Nursing student from Kingston University. On Sunday 7th October 2012 I volunteered at the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Prostate Cancer UK in central London. It was a One-Off Volunteering opportunity and my role was to cheer on the runners as they ran past and to give out jelly babies to give the runners more energy! One of my friends volunteered at the event last year and when she told me about the experience and how much fun it was, I thought it was something I would like doing too. 
Cheering the runners on 
What I enjoyed most was the look on the runners’ faces when they reached the cheering team as they seemed really grateful of our support. We gave them the boost to keep on running. What’s also great was that the charity reimbursed me for my travelcard, so the day didn’t cost me a penny.

Volunteering makes you feel good about yourself, whilst helping others; it gives you the chance to meet new people and do things you wouldn't normally do. I have already signed up for my next One-Off Volunteering activity through KUSU Volunteering and look forward to many more! I’m also going to put all of my volunteering experiences on my CV as next year I will be looking for a graduate job and my volunteering will increase my employability. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

LSVF2012 is coming....

“So, what’s a Labyrinth?”

“Isn’t that a book by Kate Mosse?”

“I thought Kate Mosse was a supermodel...?”

The rest of the KUSU staff look confused, as well they might. We’ve just been explaining what our plans are for LSVF 2012, and this year they include something quite unusual.

LSVF stands for London Student Volunteering Fortnight. It’s a special event just for students in London, and the idea is that lots of different universities put on “taster sessions” of volunteering, and anyone from any of those universities can go to any of the sessions- so a student from Kingston can go to a session put on by UCL, and one from City University can come to Kingston.... it’s a great way to try volunteering and meet students from other universities, get to see different parts of London and try something new. It’s been running for a couple of year now, and has been a great success (check out the photos of what happened last year).

The famous Labyrinth of Chatres... come and make ours look as beautiful!

So where does the Labyrinth fit in? Well, we know you guys are busy people, so we’re also planning sessions on Campus. One of these is going to be a Labyrinth-building session. Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years by people from all over the world from Ireland to China, Scandinavia to India, crossing cultural and religious boundaries. The idea that walking a path round it gives you time to think and reflect, make decisions, and exercise the puzzle-solving parts of our brain. Because it’s circular and unending, and it’s something everyone can do, it’s also come to represent inclusivity and community- which is why it’s perfect for volunteering. As part of London Student Volunteering Fortnight, we’re going to be holding a Labyrinth building workshop- everyone can volunteer to paint a stone to help build a beautiful thing for the community to use, and we’ll be inviting local residents and youth groups to come and try it out too.

If you’d like to get involved, you can just show up- it’ll be taking place in the Quiet Room (next to the Prayer Room on Penrhyn Road campus) from 6th -8th November.  Bring your friends, classmates, lecturers, housemates.... if you live locally you can bring your neighbours and family!

If you want to exercise your creativity, we’ll also be knitting hats for babies in neonatal intensive care units in hospitals the day before the Labyrinth building (5th November 12 noon-2pm in the KUSU Offices), or if you prefer outdoors work, we’ve also got a day of conservation work clearing invasive Rhododendrons at Kingston Hill campus on Saturday 10th November.

 If you fancy something off-campus then there are lots of other events happening across London- painting schools, gardening for older people, marshalling a half-marathon: check out the events listing on the  LSVF blog for more details and to book.

Right, time to go and order a very large dust sheet and an awful lot of knitting wool.... 
Alex Britton and Jemma Houghton
KUSU Volunteer Coordinators 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Caribbean Culture Day - Student-Led Volunteering Project

Hi my name is Latisha and I am in my third and final year studying Business Management at Kingston University. On 14th August 2012 I volunteered to help out on a Student-Led Volunteering project - the concept of which was a Caribbean Culture Day for young teenagers with Afro-Caribbean heritage.

The day started at 9am in Hackney, where I met up with Nadine (the project leader and fellow Kingston University student), the other volunteers and the young teenagers taking part in the project. When everyone arrived, I helped to escort the teenagers to the Tabernacle (an iconic music and arts venue), situated in West London. Thankfully, my travel expenses were covered by KUSU Volunteering!

Soca Dancing warm-up
The Caribbean Culture Day was split into three activities. The first activity consisted of Soca dancing, whereby the teenagers took part in a dance workshop taught by MLM (Muzik Lil Muzik). They first learnt a bit about Soca music and the annual Notting Hill Carnival, before taking part in a warm up session to get them ready for the dance choreography which followed after. I made sure everyone kept hydrated by giving out cups of water. I also got to take part in the dance workshop! The choreography was amazing and once mastered everyone did a cooling down session.

In order to adhere to the Caribbean concept, Caribbean cuisine was also provided; my lunch was again paid for by KUSU Volunteering! Providing a Caribbean lunch was a great idea - not only were the children learning about Caribbean culture throughout the day, but they also got a taste of it! There was rice and peas, salad, chicken, and a tasty fruit punch to wash it all down. Thankfully the weather was lovely so we were able to sit outside the venue and eat.

The second activity was Mas making: Carnival costume making and the chance to learn more about the art form at London’s very own carnival village. Before starting the young teenagers were introduced to ‘Broken Feathers’ who were the main leaders of the activity. ‘Broken Feathers’ design and create costumes for the performers at Notting Hill Carnival. ‘Broken Feathers’ taught the class about the art of mas making, before letting the young teenagers try it out for themselves! Everyone was split into four groups. Each group had a different concept; agility, power, speed or balance; they also had a letter, V, O, F or A which represented the overall theme of ‘Virtues of Athleticism’.

Each volunteer choose a group to help. I helped the group that had the letter A and concept Agility. My group had to design the letter A on a big piece of paper ensuring that it also showed the concept of agility. This was my favourite part of the day as it brought out the creativity in me! You could see everyone was thoroughly enjoying the day. Each group had a chance to show each other their work which involved a lot of cheering and clapping followed by a little break for everyone to rest.

The last event was Steelpan playing. The children first listened to the history of the steelpan and Soca musica, before watching the professional Mangrove Mas Band play. The kids then got the chance to play and record themselves playing the steel pans. Considering the fact that none of them had played steelpans before, they were all quite good for first-timers! The day ended a little after 6pm - we all took pictures outside the venue and then escorted the children back to Hackney. Check out the photos from the day on the KUSU Volunteering Facebook Page

I enjoyed taking part in the Caribbean Culture Day, as it taught me more about my culture and was great to see the young teenagers so interested in their heritage. From previously volunteering in a school, I love helping and working with children and from the sound of it I knew this event would be interesting and enjoyable. Volunteering is a way of giving back and helping others. You get to experience a different environment and meet new people who can be inspiring and motivational! I would definitely recommend volunteering to anybody. This experience has made me want to continue volunteering in schools and helping people with disabilities. The whole project as a whole has also inspired me to do my own Student-Led Volunteering project. In what, I am unsure, but I’m meeting Jemma Houghton one of the Volunteering Coordinators from KUSU Volunteering soon to talk about it further, so I will keep you posted!

Monday, 8 October 2012

My Buddy and Me

My name is Bisi Olukanni and I'm in my third year of my Psychology degree at Kingston. I volunteer for Kingston's Buddy Scheme
The main idea behind the buddy scheme is that you meet with someone who has some form of learning disability and as their buddy your role is to help them enjoy life. On average I would say I meet with my buddy Millie twice a month. Millie has Aspergers Syndrome. At first glance she doesn't appear to have any disability. However, individuals with this type of disability tend to be very socially withdrawn and as a result become isolated. As her buddy I meet with her and take part in a variety of activities so that she feels happy and comfortable to go and have fun with a friend. 

The type of things we have done so far are ice skating, swimming, going to the cinema and Chessington World of Adventures. Our next meeting we have planned  to meet up just for a gossip and a little retail therapy!
Millie and I at Chessington about to go on a ride

What got me so interested in volunteering as a buddy was the thought that many young people with learning disabilities don't get opportunities to socialise and make friends. I wanted to do what I could to help others to build social skills. It's very rewarding knowing that you do make some one's week by planning a day out, and your friendship could provide them with the confidence to go out and make their own friends and prevent them being taken advantage of! Additionally, I study Psychology and  this role seemed like a fantastic way to get experience working with people who I am likely to work with in the future and have fun at the same time!

Since I started volunteering as a buddy I've learned a great deal about the types of issues that can arise when working with someone who has a learning disability for example, mood changes. Before being assigned a buddy you undergo training which helps you combat any problems and explains who to contact if you need further assistance. After completing my training I felt very confident and I have yet to experience an issue I couldn't resolve. After making friends with Millie I feel much more open about who I talk to and who I befriend and it has really widened the type of people I have around me and improved my own social skills.

What I enjoy most about volunteering with the Buddy Scheme is that it allows me to take a break from the stresses of uni work and have fun with a great friend. The activities you do are a joint decision so you can have input on what activity you want to do. It's a mutual relationship, you are NOT their carer but an honest friend that will help them understand how typical friendships develop i.e. sometimes you have to compromise! Also, the Buddy Scheme cover your expenses, so excuses- it's a chance to make a friend, learn about them and their disability and have fun for free!

Millie feeling anxious about getting on the ice!
Over the past few months that I have been meeting with Millie we have had some great moments - the funniest moment was when we went ice skating at Guildford Spectrum and neither if us mentioned that we hadn't done it in a long time - that was our first mistake! We were a little apprehensive about stepping on to the ice so managed to persuade the staff to let us use a 'Penguin Guide' - this is usually what really small children use. For the whole two hours Millie and I spent the whole time 'skating' with a tiny penguin in front of was rather embarrassing especially as I still managed to fall over...but was such great fun and we made the most of it. We won't be going ice skating again in a hurry!!   

Me putting on my skates
Upon completion of my degree I am hoping to go on to do clinical training, which would mean after another 3yrs I will be a Clinical psychologist! I can't wait to start on my career path. Volunteering has helped confirm that this is a job I want to do and has made me more employable through this experience. 
Most importantly it has helped me see the benefit of volunteering and why it is so important for communities that we have volunteers to help others lead a fulfilling and happy life. For a few hours a month you get fantastic returns and I will continue to volunteer as long as possible.

I hope to see more Kingston Students volunteer in the future, it's worth it! 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Green Impact Auditing

Third Year Kingston University student Aija
Hello everyone my name is Aija! I’m originally from Latvia and this semester I will be a 3rd year student at Kingston University studying International Business on placement.

I really like how Kingston University operates in a socially and economically beneficial manner in terms of their immediate local setting and in wider regional and global contexts, as well as acting as a lead in the local community in terms of best environmental and sustainability practice. I too am passionate about the local environment and recently took part in a really interesting environmental volunteering opportunity.
On 16th July 2012 I volunteered on the ‘Green Impact Auditing’ opportunity which was advertised by KUSU Volunteering and facilitated by the Sustainability Hub at Kingston University. Kingston University run ‘Green Impact’, an environmental accreditation scheme, which allows departments to make their workplaces greener. The aim of the ‘Green Impact Auditing’ event was to showcase how much Kingston University does in terms of recycling, investing in more efficient equipment, encouraging biodiversity and Fairtrade etc. The ‘Green Impact Auditing’ volunteering opportunity took place over one day and consisted of two parts. In the morning KUSU student volunteers received free training on how to audit ‘Green Impact’ activities, before receiving a free and delicious lunch, which we all enjoyed, before getting to actually conduct audits of the departments in Kingston University in the afternoon!

Even though it sounds scary and serious, the training was brilliant and we conducted the audits in pairs so that we could support each other. I’d already noticed how eco-friendly Kingston University was when I first arrived here, and it was an honour to get the chance to help Kingston University receive recognition from Green Impact for its energy-saving and recycling policies and efforts.

I’m really glad I volunteered on this. It added another dimension to my knowledge of sustainability for which I am thankful. I recommend you try volunteering at least once. It’s fun, you learn new things, develop your skill-set and it may even prove useful in helping you score additional points when you go for interviews.

In the future I intend to continue with One-Off Volunteering opportunities as they are never the same and bring joy to participants for the volunteering they have done and the help they have given to the community.

I’m looking forward to receiving a certificate at the Green Impact Award ceremony in October 2012 for my volunteer contribution - It’s something that I can put on my CV!

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