UCL students volunteer their time with organisations across London, helping to contribute to the sustainability of local communities. The UCL Volunteering Service helps to connect students to these voluntary organisations, with over 2000 students getting involved with one or more of our 400 partner organisations every year.
This year we are exploring the importance of volunteering and sustainability across the different boroughs of London, and this month we are taking a look at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Developing a sustainable Kensington and Chelsea
Sustainable development plays a key role in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The recently announced Council Plan 2023 to 2027 sets out their plan to enhance both the environmental and social sustainability of the borough. Their key goal is to produce a borough that is greener, safer, and fairer for all residents.
The Kensington and Chelsea Council also launched their Green Plan in 2019, which pledged that the whole borough would be carbon neutral by 2040:
“Our goal is ambitious and the transition to a truly sustainable borough will be extremely difficult to achieve but it is essential to ensure our ongoing quality of life, now and for generations to come.”
Alongside this, the Council also launched their Green Fund, which dedicated £10 million pounds over the next 10 years to be used towards environmental projects and innovation.
Sustainability and Volunteering in Kensington and Chelsea
Volunteering plays a key role in the sustainable development of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In 2021, the Kensington and Chelsea Council launched the Voluntary Sector Support Fund (VSSF), in recognition of the vital work that the local voluntary sector does to support the livelihood of the community. This grant gave over £2.8 million in funding to 35 local voluntary organisations that provide important support to all aspects of the community, aiming to tackles issues such as isolation, inequality, and the inaccessibility of vital services.
The Kensington and Chelsea Social Council, an independent charity supported by the Council, acts as an umbrella body for the voluntary and community organisations in the borough. They similarly acknowledge, in their 2021-22 Annual Report, that, “Services provided by the voluntary and community sector (VCS) play a major role in the community’s health and wellbeing.”
The important community-wide support that the voluntary sector plays in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also help to contribute to global efforts to improve the sustainability of communities. These efforts are outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set out the key issues faced globally and provide a framework through which these issues can be addressed at local and global levels. Organisations in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea help in the global effort against issues such as hunger, poverty, education, and isolation.
Community Organisations in Kensington and Chelsea
UCL students volunteer with a variety of voluntary organisations across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, helping to contribute to the sustainability of the local community. Learn about some of these organisations and the opportunities available to students below!
Age UK Kensington & Chelsea
Age UK Kensington & Chelsea is a local charity working to support over-55s in the borough through a wide range of services and activities. Their aim is to promote well-being and independence through services that range from information and advice, to dementia support, to weekly activities such as language classes and knitting.
Medical student Antonio Neves got involved as an Online Spanish Teacher, running two different classes over zoom each week. He shared his personal highlight of taking part in this experience throughout Covid:
“My students have told me that they look forward to the Spanish classes every week. Having their friends and social opportunities taken away by Covid can be deeply scarring, and by creating a time and place where they get to interact with their friends and learn something along the way, I feel like I get to alleviate that burden.”
The work carried out by Age UK Kensington & Chelsea to tackle well-being in later life aligns closely with SDG #3 Good Health and Well-Being, and particularly Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
If you are interesting in joining Age UK Kensington & Chelsea as a volunteer, they have a number of different opportunities available for volunteers. You can sign up as a Volunteer French Teacher, Volunteering Knitting & Crochet Teacher, Befriending Volunteer, Shopping Trip Support Volunteer, and many more!
IntoUniversity is an organisation that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through innovative programs at local learning centres to help them achieve either a university place or another chosen aspiration. Their IntoUniversity Mentoring Scheme partners university students with young people aged 10-17 to provide one-to-one support to help boost their confidence and achieve their potential.
MSc Psychology student Melisa Sahan volunteered as a Student Mentor, through which she met with a student in Year 10 every two weeks to provide guidance in their academic, social, and future goals. Melisa shared the impact that this volunteering had on her own future aspirations:
“Volunteering has been very enjoyable and has motivated me to continue working with young people. I am more confident in my ability to effectively communicate with children and adolescents in an academic context. I would definitely see myself working in schools or children and adolescent mental health settings.”
The work done by IntoUniversity aids in global efforts to provide inclusive and equitable education for all, represented in SDG #4: Quality Education. It particularly aligns with Target 4.3: By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
If you would like to get involved and support young people, you can sign up with IntoUniversity as a Student Mentor.
Family Friends is a charity organisation that supports families and young people in Central West London. They offer long-term support that aims to meet families’ unique needs to tackle multiple hardships, which may include, mental health, family relationships, finances, and isolation.
Their work aligns with many global sustainability goals, including those outlines in SGD #1: No Poverty. In particular, their work provides an important social protection system, like those outlined in Target 1.3: Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.
If you are interested in getting involved, you can join IntoUniversity as a Family Befriender, meeting with a family weekly or fortnightly for a period of 6-12 months to help families discover their strengths, build confidence, and resolve difficulties.
You can also sign up as a Big Buddy, volunteering as an inspirational role model to provide support to young people aged 10-18 for a few hours weekly or fortnightly over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.
Mary’s Meals works to provide a daily meal to some of the world’s poorest children in their place of education, as a way to help provide life-changing meals and encourage education. With these meals, they provide the opportunity for a brighter future for children. As a grassroots movement, volunteers are central to the work that Mary’s Meals carries out.
This work aligns with SDG #2: Zero Hunger, and particularly Target 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
It also ties into the SDG #4: Quality Education Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
To get involved with Mary’s Meals, you can sign up as a Community Volunteer, where you will be helping to spread awareness about Mary’s Meals whilst gaining valuable experience in the charity sector.
Get involved with volunteering in Kensington and Chelsea
If you want to get involved with volunteering, the Royal Borough of Kensington ad Chelsea is full of incredible opportunities. Volunteering is a fantastic way to make an impact on the community and contribute to the global effort towards sustainability.