Creating a caring community
Volunteering has been a vital part of the University of Glasgow’s culture for over 50 years. Today, the Students' Representative Council (SRC) provides hundreds of students each year with meaningful opportunities to support communities around Glasgow.
To enable students access to a range of volunteering opportunities, the SRC have built partnerships with over 50 social enterprises, charities, community projects, and public bodies across Glasgow and beyond.
Students can support refugees, the homeless community, children, the elderly, and many others.
Gemma Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator in the SRC, establishes partnerships with local community organisations and connects them with student volunteers. Gemma explains, “Over the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time developing partnerships beyond the usual organisations that tend to attract many volunteers, to work with groups that are lesser known, but which do great work.”
By taking this approach, volunteers’ contributions become vital to the running of small charities like Glasgow Riding for the Disabled Association, who provide 47 hours of classes each week to disabled children and adults.
"UofG volunteers make a huge impact. Without them, we would be unable to run our centre to full capacity." Glasgow Riding for the Disabled Association
More than a degree
In the last year, over 800 students were supported by the SRC to make a difference to local community projects which support disadvantaged and marginalised communities. For students taking part this is about more than building up their CV. Volunteering and working with organisations helps them build new skills and experiences which will benefit their future careers.
“It’s our job to ensure students leave the University with more than a degree, and to encourage and motivate them to volunteer both on-campus and in their local community.” Gemma Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator, SRC
Student experiences of volunteering have taught them the impact such contributions can make to people from a range of backgrounds. Bronwyn, who volunteered as a Remote Tutor with the Volunteer Tutors Organisation, commented: “I would say a significant impact has been made, one student I tutor went from getting 50% in her maths test to above 90%. It is rewarding seeing the students do well”.
Another student explains how their experience of volunteering for a coding school for refugees and disadvantaged people, Code Your Future, has reignited their interest in their degree subject: “I found Code Your Future not just to be about helping but an amazing community - and I dove headfirst into all that it has to offer. It was a healing experience and restored my passion for tech and community.”
In recognition of the time they spend in the community, student volunteers may receive credits on their Higher Education Achievement Reports (HEAR), be eligible for Saltire Awards, and the SRC’s annual Volunteering, Clubs and Societies (VCS) awards.
Supporting Glasgow through the pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Glasgow has endured some of the longest and strictest lockdowns in Britain. The series of lockdowns have brought a range of challenges for communities around Glasgow.
Students such as Rebecca, wanted to “make this daunting time slightly more bearable for elderly people” and volunteered as a telephone befriender for national charity, Food Train through the SRC.
DigiGallus Connect was established by student volunteers to tackle Covid-19 isolation and loneliness in the over 50s by helping vulnerable and older people to improve their digital connectiveness. The students provided free technology training such as sending emails, making online video calls and ensuring safe online browsing.
During the first lockdown, a handful of students volunteered to assemble face shields on campus after academics developed technology to rapidly produce headbands in response to the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage. This was also facilitated by acetate donations from local businesses.
Other students responded to the lockdown by taking part in the #viralkindness campaign which sought to harness local community spirit and encourage people to help neighbours with shopping and activities. This was particularly important for vulnerable people and those in isolation who may have otherwise struggled to access essentials.