Volunteering culture is an essential part of the university eco-system. It allows students to engage with issues affecting both the student population and the wide community in Manchester. It can be eye-opening to come to a new city and be confronted with issues that may be well hidden at home.
There are literally hundreds of opportunities for students to take advantage of when arriving in Manchester and for freshers, this can feel overwhelming. Juliette Flach, a former Volunteer hub coordinator, says: “There is such a breadth of charitable activities that you could spend your time volunteering for, it can be hard to know where to start.” The Mancunion have put together a guide to help get you do just that.
Where to start?
It’s important to do something you find meaningful in order to make the experience the most rewarding. The best kind of volunteers are the ones who are happy to be there. This makes them want to work harder. There are lots of different sectors within the volunteering sphere to get involved with. Think about what you feel passionate about or could be helpful to you in your future career path. This will make you a better volunteer. Different areas of focus include culture, education, environment, public health, international aid, supporting students, aiding with vulnerable people, and mental health.
“The University of Manchester Volunteering Hub is where you’ll be able to narrow your search and specify what work you’d like to do and what time you have to give. Because the university has a link to a wide variety of organisations, your search will probably produce a lot of different opportunities you can then choose from.”
Flach reflected on her time volunteering. She said: “During my time at university I loved spending time volunteering for a number of charities tackling a range of themes; helping to reduce food waste, fundraising for international charities, supporting adults with disabilities, and working with people who are homeless. As a result, I look back at my time at uni remembering not only the lecture slides and seminar rooms but also the times I’ve spent helping the local community. I’ve also met some amazing people from a wide range of subject areas. Last year, I had a housemate I would never have met had it not been for volunteering opportunities on campus.”
UoM also offer rewards to students who decide to give their extra time to volunteering. Stellify goes to students who have dedicated their time to volunteering and leadership roles while at university. Students receive the Stellify award if they complete the following three criteria on graduation. Firstly, all three Ethical Grand Challenges. This involves the Sustainability Challenge in year one, Social Justice Challenge in year two, and Workplace Ethics Challenge in year three and beyond. Secondly, 40 hours of volunteering that benefits the wider community. And thirdly, taking a leadership role on campus. Stellify is a real CV booster so it’s worth looking into.
Visit the Volunteering Hub online. When you log in, you are able to search for and apply to opportunities that suit you. You can also use the hub to log your hours to keep a record. Then, make sure you get down to Campaign Supernova, Manchester’s only campaigning festival! Campaigning societies, local groups and projects will be there to help you get involved. There will also be music, art, crafts, special talks, food, freebies, and more. Visit the Facebook event page to find out more. More special speakers and music acts are yet to be announced!