- How can I start my own Student-Led Project?
If you have an idea for a brand-new Student-Led Project, you can submit a new idea through this form. Once you have submitted your initial idea you will be invited to a meeting to discuss your project idea further and identify whether it fulfils the requirements of the Student-Led Volunteering Programme.
You don’t have to worry about having everything figured out, the meeting is designed to help you develop your ideas into a feasible project!
- How do I decide what sort of project to get involved with?
Think about what issues you're interested in. Have you volunteered before - and if so, would you like to do something similar? Would you like to do something related to your course, like the English students who set up a book club in local schools, or the Law students who ran citizenship & crime workshops for children? Or you may want to set up a project based on your hobbies such as Double Exposure's photography workshops for beneficiaries experiencing homelessness. You might also want to consider what kind of skills and experiences you want to develop that can help you in your future career.
Alternatively, if you're a member of a club or society, you can deliver a project that represents your groups' interests - we have a page dedicated to our Clubs & Societies Student-Led Projects if you want to find out more.
- What are the main requirements of the Student-Led Volunteering Programme?
We only support projects that benefit the local community, so your project beneficiaries cannot be UCL students or staff. For safeguarding reasons, if your project will provide activities for beneficiaries then it must also work in partnership with a non-for-profit organisation or state-funded school and your project beneficiaries must be recruited through your partner organisations.
- Must my Student-Led Project have a partner organisation?
Most Student-Led Projects do need to be partnered with a community organisation. There are only a few exceptions to the rule for projects that have a community benefit but do not work directly with the beneficiaries. For example, Green Walkers run litter picking session in Bloomsbury.
- Which organisations are accepted as partners?
Student-Led Projects (SLPs) can partner with community organisations, or schools across London. These organisations need to be not-for-profit, and the schools state funded (SLPs cannot work with private schools).
- Does being a Project Leader take up a lot of time?
Running a Student-Led Project will demand around half a day per week of your time - exactly how much will depend on the nature of your project. Whether you are starting an entirely new project or taking on an existing project will determine the amount of time it takes to run it. This is also the reason we recommend having at least two Project leaders.
It’s certainly possible to fit it in with a student timetable – in fact, many of our Project Leaders come from courses with heavy time commitments like medicine and law.
- What would I do as a Project Leader?
Project Leaders are responsible for managing and leading all aspects of the volunteering project. You would carry out tasks such as recruiting and managing volunteers, completing risk assessments and project plans, and making sure that the project runs smoothly overall.
- What support do I get?
Those running a Student-Led Project receive one-to-one supervision from a dedicated Project Supervisor from our Student-Led Projects Team. We also offer an extensive training and personal development package, administrative support, funding of up to £500 and comprehensive resources containing lots of useful information. We'll also help you recruit other student volunteers once the project is up and running.
- What does the training programme cover?
We provide training to help you get the most out of the experience of running your own project. Our online workshop covers project planning, building links with community organisations and evaluation.
This online 1-hour training session is compulsory for both students in the process of creating new projects and students who become leaders of existing projects (including if you are taking over part-way through the year or next academic year). By the end of the session you will understand the:
• key responsibilities of your role as Project Leader
• basic structure of the journey of a Student-Led Project
• key steps that you need to take to set up or continue your Student-Led Project
We aim to equip you with fundamental leadership and management skills to plan, deliver and monitor your projects successfully - you'll be able to show-off this knowledge when you enter the world of work too!
- Running a project costs money - where am I going to get this?
You can apply for up to £500 towards your project from the Volunteering Service. We can advise you on your application, and can also help you identify other sources of funding.
We'll also pay for the travel expenses you incur as Project Leader, and also those of any UCL volunteers on your project.
- Can I start a Student-Led Project later in the year?
For a Student-Led Project (SLP) to be up and running by Term 2 or 3, the best thing to do is start it at the beginning of the academic year to ensure that there is enough time for preparation and the recruitment of volunteers. However, you can start an SLP anytime during the year as each project is unique and will have its own requirements. If you are not in your final year, you can continue leading/volunteering on a project over multiple academic years, and so for example, you can start setting up an SLP in Term 3 and recruit volunteers in Term 1 the next academic year.
- Can I start a Student-Led Project together with a friend?
Yes, we strongly encourage all projects to have at least two leaders. If you're setting up a new project, and do not know anyone else who can assist you, we'll help you find a co-leader. Keep in mind that only UCL students can be Project Leaders.
- How do I recruit volunteers for my Project?
There are various ways to recruit volunteers and we will support you along the way. You will be able to attend our volunteering fairs, spread the word through word of mouth, or use posters across campus (in this case please contact us for the Poster Distribution List, which includes details of the places that you are allowed to put up posters).
You can also post a volunteering role on the Volunteering directory on the Students' Union’s website to recruit students and feature these opportunities on the Volunteering Service’s Instagram account, newsletter, or departmental communications.
- What is a DBS check? Do I need one?
If your Student-Led Project works with children or vulnerable adults, you and your volunteers may be asked to complete a DBS check. DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, and it is a government body responsible for checking people’s criminal records. Your project supervisor will be able to advise you on this, but usually it is the partner organisation that will tell you if a DBS check is required.
- How do I get a DBS check? Is a DBS check free?
If you need a DBS check, you should apply through the Volunteering Service, and this will be free of charge.
Please see our guidance on how to apply here.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
- I need a DBS check, but I am struggling to find suitable forms of ID. Can I still get a DBS?
It is the Disclosure and Barring Service that determines what types of identification can be submitted, not the volunteering service. A DBS check is an official check, which means that unfortunately it is not possible to get a DBS check without three forms of ID that meet the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected]
- What should I do if I am having problems within my team or with an external partner?
If you have any issues within your team, including your volunteers, or with an external partner, and you don’t know how to resolve these or are unsure what the best way forward is, you can contact your Project Supervisor for advice. We encourage you to be in constant communication with us and take advantage of the support that we can offer in these cases.
- What do I get out of it?
Firstly, you'll develop skills that will prove invaluable, whatever your career plans are for the future. The Institute for Volunteering Research found that UCL student Project Leaders developed skills in project management, planning, leadership, communication and motivating and organising people. Being a Project Leader is also a great opportunity to meet new students, and people from all walks of life outside of UCL. We'll also be able to provide you with a reference, certification when you complete our training, and you'll get a certificate of achievement at the end of the academic year.
- How do I get involved?
You can submit an idea for a new Student-Led Project. Don't worry if you do not have an idea, we recruit Project Leaders for our existing projects at different points in the year. You can view our current Project Leader vacancies on our Volunteering Directory. If you cannot find a vacancy that interests you email us to request to be added to our mailing list and we will notify you when we are recruiting Project Leaders, at the end of the academic year. You can also make an appointment to discuss the programme beforehand with Cynthia Allen, Student-Led Projects Manager, by email.
- What happens to my project after I graduate/leave UCL?
We encourage all Project Leaders who will be leaving their projects to recruit new Project Leaders that can continue to run the project. Our oldest SLP, Teddy Bear Clinic, has been running for more than 20 years!
We recommend that you try to recruit them from your current pool of volunteers in the first instance; however, if you are having difficulty recruiting new Project Leaders, we can support you to find suitable candidates.
- What if I want to volunteer but don't want to be a Project Leader?
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]