Friday, 9 October 2015

Welcoming the new Knitting for Charity Student Leader, Victoria

Hi I’m Victoria Cooper and I’m the new project leader for the volunteer group Knitting for Charity. I’m a second year fashion student and I’m hoping to specialise in knitwear, which I’m sure doesn’t come as much of a surprise!

I started to become involved in this project last October when I joined as a nervous first year volunteer, and I soon became a regular knitter, helping to make knitted or crocheted items for the charity Knit for Peace. Knit for Peace sends items all over the world, including both locally and globally, items identified for their need in the places they are sent.

I really love this project, not only because in a way it relates to my studies here; but as someone wanting to go into the fashion industry it feels good to know that I am doing something to help people in need. The fashion industry has such a bad reputation for putting profit before people’s wellbeing and by getting involved in this project I feel like I am doing my bit to help rather than hurt, and I want to be able to continue this idea when I go into the industry.

I’m really excited to start leading the group this year and I’ve got some ideas to do some fun themed projects around Christmas and Easter. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner, I hadn’t knitted for about eight years before I joined this group and we also welcome any crocheters.

Sign up to the project on the Volunteering Portal, and come along to join every Wednesday 1
-3pm, in the Students' Union, on Penrhyn Road Campus! We run on a drop in basis, so you can come for as long or as little as you want.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Thames River Clean May 2015

Hi I'm Theo Mills, and I was student-leader along with Kathy Stanley-Quist of the 2015 Thames River Clean, as part of the Sports Volunteering Steam. We were supported by Volunteering Projects Design and Development Coordinator, Sarah Dutton.

I started scuba diving back in September of 2013 and have fallen in love with the sport. The club brings together an amazing group of people and one of our biggest events in the calendar year is the Kingston Thames River Clean.

Originally thought up and masterminded by fellow diver and Kingston alumni Chris Elliot, 2015 was the 4th consecutive year that the river clean had been held. Having sadly missed last year’s river lean this was my first year attending and also helping to organising the event with other members of KUSAC and the Students' Union (SU).

I joined the committee just before Christmas of 2014 and was amazed by the amount of work that actually goes into making this event possible. Just for a one day event there is so much work behind the scenes that goes into making it possible. This involved applying for grants, contacting people to attend the event and general organisation of location and equipment. After careful consideration on much deliberation we settled on the 30th of May as the date for the clean.  In order to secure the date, The Environment Agency gave us the go ahead, closed off one of the arches of Kingston Bridge, provided us with a river barge for rubbish, and informed all river users of the activity. We also had to organise insurance, recruitment of volunteers from all over the community, timetables, lunches, health and safety briefings, risk assessments and much more. It was exhausting but amazing to see so many get on board including, KUSAC, KUBAG, KU Kayakers, KU Mountaineers, Kingston Council, Environment Agency, Metropolitan Police, RNLI, Thames 21, Aquanauts and Capital Clean Up.
The hard work paid off and the river clean was an amazing success. In total we pulled out over 460 items from just a small stretch of the river. This included 31 trollies and 7 different push bikes. All the volunteers did an amazing job on the day, and made it and exciting and enjoyable day for the public and everyone involved. 

Next year I will be heading up the committee, and I look forward to helping keep this wonderful project going. It is clear we are helping to improve the environment around Kingston and this is an event that bring a number of different people together for a good cause.  

We are also recruiting for the 2015-2016 River Clean Committee, and welcome applications. If you are interested and are a student at Kingston University and in a sports team, please email, outlining why you think you would make a brilliant committee member.  

Friday, 20 March 2015

Volunteering Celebrates International Day of Happiness 2015

Are you feeling happy? As part of the UN decreed day, Kingston University Students' Union took part in International Day of Happiness for the second year running, and wow, did we hand out a lot of hugs! Everyone's arms hurt the next day from handing out so many hugs and high fives! We think it is a measurement of not only dedication, but real success.

International Day of Happiness, is held on the 20th March of each year, and is designed to showcase the UN's awareness of the need for happiness and good well-being for the everyone to grow as a global economy. It isn't all just about money! For the global community to grow, we should strive for all to feel safe, secure and connected to our communities. Here at KUSU we think this is pretty important, and helping to spread a bit of happiness is certainly worthwhile.

This year we were lucky to have a bit of sunshine, in comparison to last year's rain, which always helps cheer everyone up. We took along our happiness tree, and set up in Kingston town centre. There we handed out free hugs, high fives, handmade jewellery, sweets and successfully added a lot of new pledges of happiness leaves to our tree. It is now looking somewhat less wintery.

Each pledge of happiness, is designed to get individuals thinking about what makes them happy, and what they could do over the next year to increase or spread positivity. It is tied to our tree, to showcase the growth of positivity each year, as the number of leaves increase. Pledges can be anything, as long as it is both personal but positive. They ranged from seeing family and friends more, to working towards passing driving tests.

Originally we had a goal to hand out about 100 hugs and high fives, and as many pledges as possible. However, we surpassed that with a total of around 500 hugs and countless high fives. We had many thank us for helping make them smile, and many of our volunteers decided to go on celebrating happiness, even when we had to pack up.

Happy International Day of Happiness.

The Volunteering Team xx

This week marked the celebration of Global Festival, with an entire week filled with events and stalls from each society, and even some volunteering projects. The aim of the week is to celebrate diversity here at Kingston University, and to embrace the amazing things our students groups do.
This year as part of the festival, KUSU’s BeeAware project, which aims to raise awareness of the declining bee population, hosted a honey tasting event to highlight what would be off the table should the honey bee die out.

The event proved very popular, with students and staff queueing to try some of the honey related items on show. The favourite type of honey proved to be the orange blossom, with the chilli honey being a bit too spicy for many. However by far the favourite item to try was the bee pollen, which is nice added to salads or smoothies. Bee pollen is thought to be great for energy with high protein and vitamin B levels, as well as helping with hayfever.

When BeeAware volunteers spoke about the many products that would be unavailable should the bee decline continue, such as cotton, lipsticks and almonds, many seemed genuinely shocked about the actual impact of bees. Fingers crossed this means that the group successfully added a few more to helping save the bees.

To find out more about BeeAware, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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