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Continued from Part One

One-Off Volunteering

One way we try to make volunteering accessible to everyone is our programme of sign-up-and-turn-up activities that don’t require a massive commitment. These events give options for students who feel they’re too busy or are a bit unsure about volunteering, and have proved particularly popular with masters students and international students. Examples include:

Students helping with the smooth running of Endometriosis UK’s research conference …

student volunteers in yellow endometriosis uk tee shirts

…storytelling and facepainting at the Swiss Cottage Winter Festival…

student volunteer with santa hat and grinch tee shirt

and stewarding at the Royal Society for Blind Children’s Blindfold run.  

Large crowd of student volunteers next to finish line

Student volunteers also got to dress up as giant animals as part of Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown. Volunteer Tanja Hann told us “I never imagined that dancing through the streets of London in a dog costume could be so much fun!”

Woman stood next to volunteer in giant dog costume

In February, we also trialled a new approach to One-Off Volunteering – Social Hackathons. At these four events, teams of UCL students came together for a day to work on a business problem set by one of our community partners. They researched options around setting up a trading arm for Fulham Good Neighbours, looked at website accessibility for Age UK Westminster, helped Yes Futures plan their volunteer recruitment, and investigated how the Calthorpe Project could engage more older people.

Three students working on laptops and talking

Student writing on flip chart

Maths student Rhea Alexander told us “Looking at what we did in our separate groups and how everything came together, it was really lovely to see the impact of our hard work… I’m so happy I got this experience and made a positive contribution.”

Community Research Initiative for Students

Another new programme we’ve been developing this year has been the Community Research Initiative for Students (or CRIS for short). This service brings together UCL masters students and London community organisations to collaborate on research projects. The students can use the project as part of their dissertations, and the community organisations get access to some useful research. We’ve been trialling the service with a small group of students this year, ready for a full launch this September.

Anne Laybourne doing a presentation

Two students talking whilst writing on flip chart

Networking events

We rounded the year off with a series of networking events looking at the different ways UCL can work with London’s voluntary and community sector.

Creating Connections East was co-organised with UCL’s Public Engagement and the UK 2070 Commission. UCL staff and postgraduate students met with representatives from charities and community groups to explore new ways to collaborate, with a particular focus on tackling inequalities and the problems arising from them.

Group of people sat around table

We teamed up with UCL Public Engagement Unit again, as well as UCL Arena, to run ‘Building Bridges and Co-designing Learning’. The aim was to bring together UCL students and staff with volunteer recruiters to design new volunteer roles that would help enhance students’ learning, especially in departments with lower levels of volunteering. We also looked at other ways community groups might get more involved in the curriculum at UCL. We had a great turnout, with everyone coming away with notepads full of new ideas.

student speaking to someone with their back to us

We also ran an event where community organisations and students identified potential new student-led community projects. Look out for these next academic year!

Two students speaking with someone from a community organisation


Our contribution to the UCL awards season is our Volunteering Awards, our chance to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of UCL volunteers throughout the academic year. As well as individual certificates, a number of special awards were given out, including Student-Led Project of the Year that went – for the second year running – to Impactive, a group of UCL engineers who work together with people with disabilities to design and build more personalised adaptive technology.

Professor Anthony Smith with students from Impactive project

 Our Organisation of the Year Award went to student-run charity Spectrum in recognition of the excellent support they give to their volunteers.

two students from Spectrum with their award

Awards were also given to individual student volunteers to highlight exceptional achievements, and our colleagues in the UCL Alumni Relations presented awards to alumni volunteers.

UCL alumni receiving awards

In addition, we were treated to a big ‘thank you’ from loads of our community partners.…

And we’ve still got the summer to go ..

Of course, the Volunteering Service is in operation throughout the summer - please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know anything about our activities or that of the students and community organisations we work with, or have a browse of our summer volunteering opportunities.

Photos by Anoushka Gandhi, Josephine Mizen, Anais Fiault, Dione Sarantinou, Sarah Boddy, Nick Batley, Tanja Hann, and Ondre Roach of Mediorite