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On Tuesday evening, UCLU Volunteering Services Unit held their annual Awards Ceremony and thanked the thousands of UCL volunteers who have dedicated their time to helping communities across the Capital. UCL student volunteer Kristen Stockdale tells us what happened:

Walking into the front quad pavilion for this year’s Volunteering Services Unit Awards Ceremony, I was met with animated chatter and the clinking of glasses. Straight away, my attention was captured by an exhibition stretching across one wall of the pavilion, which displayed countless examples of UCL volunteers in action. It was difficult not to find myself smiling as I read about the incredible work many of us have achieved this past academic year – ranging from RUMS choirs singing to patients at the Macmillan Cancer Centre, to bird walks with the UCL Conservation Group.

Whilst perusing the display, I found myself talking to a gentleman adorned in a lavish amount of gold. This man with the Midas touch soon explained to me that he was in fact the Mayor of Camden, and had wanted to come down and congratulate UCL students, as over half of the charities and community organisations we volunteer for are based in Camden. The work that volunteers achieve undoubtedly makes a profound difference to our local community, and it is a pleasure to celebrate our efforts at the VSU Awards each year. 

Introductory remarks from John Braime saw us all pay tribute to the tragic events of Manchester only a day beforehand, and prompted a reflective mood in the room. Despite a turbulent year, John encouraged us all to remember the differences we have made to countless people around London, and to take pride in our collective achievements. In fact, ten times more UCL students are volunteering now than in 2003 when the VSU first began, so it is no surprise that we volunteered collectively for over 60,000 hours across 2016/17, a figure Professor Anthony Smith was proud to reveal in his opening speech.

Professor Smith posed the question, “what do you think volunteering has done for you?” which was answered brilliantly by UCLU Activities & Events Officer Nick Edmonds, who spoke next. Nick drew upon his experience of volunteering for a rugby club at Regent’s Park, in a scheme designed to get young children outside and active. He started volunteering in his second year at UCL, and has continued to do so every weekend even after completing his classics degree – a testimony to the holistic development fostered by volunteering. Next, Riley Forson, a 2nd year law student, shared her experiences running one of the 67 student-led projects. Riley’s pro-bono project saw her lead a team of volunteers into schools to discuss racism, sexism, and other sensitive topics with students, and aimed to break the cycles of anti-social behaviour in young people.

Riley Forson

At this point, it was time to receive our certificates. Receiving formal acknowledgement of voluntary work is a great feeling and indicative of just how much UCL supports its student volunteers. There was a sense of genuine pride in the room, as we continued to applaud and cheer as more and more of us went up to receive our personalised certificates.

After these awards were handed out, we turned our attention to the student-led projects. UCL Marrow, who support Anthony Nolan in getting students onto the bone marrow register, were runners up for the Student-Led Volunteering Project of the Year Award, which went to Make London Home, a project which aims to raise awareness of homelessness. The Best Newcomer Award was won by the After School Crew, who work with primary school children in King’s Cross, to “teach, inspire, have fun, and learn.” Additionally, the Organisation of the Year Award was given to Spectrum, a group run by medical students working with children who have special needs.

The entire evening was a joy to witness, with students from across UCL coming together to celebrate the collective good we had achieved over the past academic year. Even with this overwhelming sense of achievement, there was an even greater feeling of inspiration – a hunger to continue volunteering and keep doing more for others.

Kristen Stockdale

Volunteering Awards 2016/17 - Winners

  • Spectrum: Organisation of the Year
  • London Nightline: Organisation of the Year (Runner-Up)
  • Make London Home: Student-Led Volunteering Project of the Year
  • UCL Marrow: Student-Led Volunteering Project of the Year (Runner-Up)
  • After School Crew: Student-Led Volunteering Project of the Year Best Newcomer

If you’re interested in getting involved with volunteering, why not start by taking a look at our summer opportunities. They’re a great chance to do something special with your summer break.