This academic year, the Student Volunteering Services reported that over 400 students participated in volunteering, providing over 20,000 hours of service to 137 charities across London.
On 21 May, Westminster held a formal Volunteer Celebratory Event at the Regent Street Campus, acknowledging the top volunteers in the student community and the University’s current partner charities. Undergraduate students Anna Appleton, Haleena Gulzareen, Haniah Aumeer, Shifa Begum and Ruxandra Calin were each awarded ‘Volunteer of the Year’ certificates by the University’s Vice Chancellor and President, Dr Peter Bonfield, for their outstanding contributions. Anna took part in over 200 hours of volunteering with St John’s Ambulance, supporting the SOHO Angels and managing the Westminster Links First Aid Society, helping to train many students in first aid. Haleena volunteered over 135 hours at Headway East London, an organisation supporting people with brain injuries, while Haniah volunteered over 50 hours with the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust. Shifa volunteered with Victim Support, working to help those impacted by the effects of crime, and Ruxandra volunteered on the Explore Teaching scheme as a participant in Westminster’s AlSadi Changing Lives Programme.
The ‘Charity of the Year’ award was presented to enterprising charity The Literacy Pirates, who work towards developing literacy confidence in young people of the Hackney area. Lily Eastwood, Director of Learning at Literacy Pirates, shared her delight in having Westminster as a partner and congratulated the team on making volunteering a priority in Higher Education. She further made a plea for more volunteers to continue making an impact in children’s literacy.
The event also included a presentation given by Andy Norris, Head of Corporate and Social Responsibility, about social return of investment and how this positively impacts the University. He said: “The theme #BeingWestminster goes hand in hand with our Student Volunteering Services and that’s why we focus on four main pillars of engagement: student experience, employability, community engagement and wellbeing. Each one feeds into the other and all are inevitably connected with volunteering.
“Volunteering is a unique opportunity for our students to develop, both professionally and personally, build friendships, pursue their passions, enhance their employability, engage with local, national and global communities and make a sustainable change for good.”
The event was attended by over 60 guests including volunteers, friends and family members, charities, Deans of the University’s colleges and several academic staff. A video presentation was also shown, in which the charities and volunteers shared their advice and experience to encourage other students to make volunteering a bigger part of their academic and personal lives.
The Student Volunteering Services work to coordinate several different volunteering opportunities each year, matching hundreds of students to a variety of charities throughout London. The team hosts two bi-annual volunteering fairs to further engage and expose students to charities and the potential prospects that can contribute towards their holistic development.