Skip to the main content
1 day 2 hours 31 minutes left to vote in the Rep Election... Vote Now

It’s midday on a sunny Sunday, and crowds of people have gathered on the banks of the Thames to witness London’s annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. The festival is a Chinese tradition dating back thousands of years, and a modern version was introduced to London more than a decade ago in order to raise money for Chinese schools in the Greater London area. It features teams of rowers racing along the Thames in delicately painted Dragon Boats, as well as a lively selection of Chinese-inspired street food and music.

Dotted amongst the masses are a small team of UCL student volunteers, handing out brightly coloured paper dragons to intrigued passers-by. Their mission is to raise awareness of the Chinese Information and Advice Centre (CIAC), and the wide variety of services the centre provides. Located in Chinatown, CIAC provides legal advice to Chinese migrants and members of Chinese diaspora community on everything from immigration papers to welfare to health. Volunteers are equipped with donation buckets, paper dragons and large smiles as they greet festival-goers and help raise both awareness and money for the centre and its services.

Two of the volunteers, who are international students from China and Hong Kong, told me how interesting it was to volunteer with CIAC whilst also attending the Dragon Boat Festival. They said that they often watched the festival on TV back in China and Hong Kong, and remarked on the similarities between those events and this one in London. They also told me how they had spent the morning chatting to a wide variety of festival visitors, many of whom were hearing of CIAC for the first time.

As the races draw to a close, visitors leave the riverside having had a fun day out – and having learnt something new about CIAC thanks to the UCL volunteers!

Written by Josephine Mizen - UCL Photojournalist.

If you’re interested in volunteering with CIAC, they’re currently looking for a Women’s Support Volunteer.

For other time-light opportunities this summer, take a look at our One-Off Volunteering events!