Friday, 23 August 2013

Introducing KUSU Volunteer Co-ordinator Sarah Dutton

Sarah Dutton - KUSU Volunteer Co-ordinator (Projects)
Hello, my name is Sarah Dutton, and I will be the new student and staff-led projects Volunteer Co-ordinator, replacing Jemma Houghton who is off exploring new pastures in Canada. Alongside me, I will be working with Abbie Hurrell, who co-ordinates all of the one-off volunteering and regular volunteering across Kingston Upon Thames, the surrounding boroughs and central London.

Before coming to Kingston University Students’ Union (KUSU), my background was co-ordinating volunteering projects within the Career Development Service and Student Recruitment at the University of Leicester. I’ve also volunteered at various charities over the last decade. I think volunteering is a fantastic way of facilitating positive change within your local area, as well as gaining confidence, acquiring employability skills and making new friends. It is something I sort out as a student, and I hope you do too.

As I’ve only been here a couple of weeks so far, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting many KU students, but am looking forward to when you start pouring into the union offices with your fantastic volunteering project ideas! Having heard all about the exciting projects that ran last year, like the River Clean, Knit for Peace and sports fun sessions such as teaching cheerleading to Kingston Young Carers, I know that as KU students you are both creative and committed, which is fantastic.

There are a number of ways that you can get involved with KUSU Volunteering, either by getting in contact with Abbie or myself. I will be the point of contact for any of you who are interested in setting up your own student-led volunteering project or taking part in any staff-led projects that I create. If you’re interested in volunteering with a particular charity or community organisation you can email Abbie on,

For those of you who are feeling creative and want to set up your own volunteering project (it can be a one off or more regular opportunity) then please get in touch with your ideas. You can do this on your own, with a couple of friends, or with your society or sports team. Designing and leading your own project is a fantastic way of building up your skills set e.g. communication and organisational skills, as well as getting out into the community and making a real difference. However, don’t panic you won’t be alone when co-ordinating your project. I will support you along the way by offering tips and guidance on running a volunteering project, and offering up to £250 in funding for the opportunity.

As well as supporting students to run volunteering projects, I will also be setting up and co-ordinating my own projects for students to volunteer on. These will include projects such as the Christmas present donation scheme, as well as many more. All of these new (staff-led) projects will be advertised on the new KUSU volunteering database. Sadly this database isn’t live yet, but it will be up and running for the beginning of Fresher’s week. So make sure you don’t miss out on our upcoming blog for more information on this.

If you are interested in running your own volunteering project, please email me at, with a completed project proposal available on the Student-Led Volunteering Project Toolkit webpage. Equally if you are interested in volunteering in general, email, or drop into our office on Penrhyn Road campus between 10am - 4pm.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Volunteer Gems!

The children from Kingston Welcare showing off their jewellery!

Hello there,

I am Funmi Kehinde, a Masters student in IT with Strategic Innovation and Management Studies at Kingston University, London.

 In April 2013, I volunteered at Kingston Welcare Charity and ran a jewellery workshop in which I taught ten children between the ages of 4-6 years how to design necklaces, bracelets and also key-rings.

It was a fun and fulfilling moment for me, because it allowed me to pass on my jewellery-making knowledge to young children. The experience also made me understand children better and helped me learn how to communicate at their level.  My project was a student-led volunteering project which meant I had to organise the project and ensure it was successful. I got very valuable help from Jemma Houghton, one of the KUSU Volunteering Co-ordinators who constantly motivated and supported me throughout the planning process and running the workshop.

Akinda proudly wearing the necklace she made. 
Running this project was not only fun and fulfilling but also helped me develop new skill sets including time management, research, team work, budget planning, project management and communication skills, all of which are valuable in making one more employable. The best part of running the workshop was seeing the smiles on the faces of the children when they successfully designed their bracelets and I also got a bracelet designed for me by one of the children called Holly J

Volunteering is a great experience and I would encourage others to find some time along their university work to do some volunteering. I love to volunteer and help others out in any little way I can because I strongly believe in making a positive impact to my community, generation and world. In future I hope to try out other ranges of volunteering such as mentoring young children, youths in schools and the community and hopefully set up a mentoring organisation which is dedicated towards mentoring and empowering children and youths towards greatness in life.
You can be whatever you want to be, if you only try...and if you fail keep trying to you succeed!

Thank you KUSU Volunteering for this life-time experience!

Funmi Kehinde.
MSc. IT with Innovation and Management Studies
Kingston University, London.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Volunteer Cheer!

Group photo - KUSU Volunteers and Kingston Young Carers!
Hi I’m Danielle and I have just completed my 3rd year at Kingston University where I studied BA (Hons) Drama. On the 29th May I volunteered my time and experience in leading a two hour Cheerleading fun session for 16 children from Kingston Young Carers. The fun session was an introduction to cheerleading. With the help of four other student volunteers from the KUSU Cheerleading Club, we taught the children various skills of cheerleading, including stunts, motions, jumps and dance. It took place at the dance studio in the gym at Penrhyn Road campus. The venue was brilliant because it was perfect in size and had appropriate facilities such as mirrors and mats that we needed to run the session.

For the project I led and co-ordinated the fun session with help and support from Jemma Houghton the Volunteer Co-ordinator at KUSU. Tasks I undertook included devising the session plan, completing a risk assessment, buying refreshments, sourcing ‘winner’ medals to give out to the children, creating certificates and recruiting volunteers to help me run the session.

As I am a qualified cheerleading coach I already have a passion for teaching cheerleading to children; it’s often something new they haven’t come across before and which they get particularly excited about - especially when pom poms are involved!

Why did I run this volunteering project? Well last year another member of the KUSU Cheerleading Club (who has since graduated) ran a Cheerleading fun session for Kingston Young Carers, which I helped out with and enjoyed immensely; the young carers all finished the session with huge smiles and said how much fun they had. This inspired me to get involved and lead a similar project this year.

Kingston Young Carers show off their new stunt skills!
The best part of the project for me was seeing how quickly the children picked up the cheerleading skills. We were able to teach higher skills than planed and they were all really proud of achieving something they didn’t think they could do.

I would recommend a volunteer project like this to anyone! It’s incredibly rewarding, the children are so grateful for the session and leave with a massive smile on their face. It’s a project that has aided my coaching work as it has increased my experience of working with a different group of children and is something I can put on my CV.

I wish I’d done more with KUSU Volunteering - the staff are very helpful and will support you with whatever volunteering you want to do. From Student-Led Volunteering like I did or other opportunities, there’s lots you can get involved with to make a difference and add something different to your CV to make you stand out to employers. Get involved - you won’t regret it. 

Check out more of the cheerleading photos!
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