Summer 2021: The summer YOU got stuck into volunteering!

Summer is officially here.  Exams are over, assessments are submitted, the online classroom is temporarily closed and you can finally get rid of that Zoom tab that’s driven you to fatigue.  Best of all?  The weather is reminding us all just how bright the world really can be; that there is still reason to be happy; and that life can be put right once more.

So, freedom awaits, the anticipation of a season of exciting plans is well and truly upon us, and we can finally give ourselves a pat on the back for making it through a year of adversity, but equally full of proud moments, as we well and truly confirmed, and celebrated, in our recent Annual Volunteering Awards. (If you missed it, you can catch the full low-down in our Awards Report here.)

…aside from the rather large elephant in the room!  The fact that plans have to be a little closer to home than we’re used to, or that we can’t quite see as many people in one go as we might like, or that the day-to-day in general still looks a little different.  

But there’s no time for doom and gloom because with that large elephant, comes a way greater opportunity to make summer 2021 just as incredible in a slightly different way; the opportunity to do something different; something out of the ordinary; something you wouldn’t have done in just any old normal summer. Yes, we’re talking making summer 2021 an extra-special one: the summer that you got stuck into volunteering!  And just because academics might be over for another year (phew!), doesn’t mean we’re going anywhere.  In fact, quite the opposite: the Volunteering Service’s summer extravaganza has barely begun and we’re here to help you navigate a season full of making a difference in your community and in the wider world!

Here’s your eight-part travel plan for the summer that you got stuck into volunteering…

First stop: Summer Series of Social Hackathons!

2021 saw more of our ever-popular one-off events throughout the academic year: the Social Hackathons!  We solved more organisations’ challenges, and were fortunate to count on dedicated ‘social hacker’ student volunteers aplenty!  

So, now we’re putting on an extra-special Summer Series: a hackathon programme with more opportunities for you to get involved than ever before and to transform our charity partner organisations.  Put your consultancy skills to the test as you come up with innovative solutions to an identified community need or problem.  In just one day’s work, you could make a tangible difference in the running of an organisation, driving effective change and turning ideas into reality.  What’s more, the more you take part in, the more you can fill your Hackathon passport, with prizes and guaranteed certificates in recognition of your efforts.

So, what are you waiting for? Apply now and tell us how you can make a difference this summer.  The deadline for applications is Friday 25th June; it’s approaching fast! 

Sign up here to get your passport to the Summer Series of Summer Hackathons.  It’s the only passport you need this summer!

Second stop: the live Opportunity Directory!

So, you’ve successfully checked off a hackathon or two.  Next stop: the Volunteering Directory, because volunteering doesn’t stop there.  

Our Volunteering Directory is the place to find all the latest and greatest opportunities that await your summer calendar.  We’re busy updating it every day as new and exciting chances to get involved come in thick and fast from partner organisations, so it’s constantly changing from one day to the next.  You can thank us later for keeping it interesting for you!

Feel free to scroll through at any time, filter according to skill, area, or even distinguish between in-person or virtual, COVID-19-response options, and register your interest to get involved in any that take your fancy!

Every opportunity you find through us will provide training, expenses and an excellent opportunity to develop your skills.

You can also apply, safe in the knowledge that our team has pre-approved the promotion of the role and that all our charity partners have signed up to our recruiter service standards, guaranteeing your protection and support when you do start to volunteer.  Moreover, with extra health and safety concerns right now, every recruiter must tell us how they’re ensuring COVID-19 safety measures are fully in place.  So you really are assured a safe, healthy and protected experience.

Third stop: a quick layover for a one-off opportunity!

Short on time? Our directory not only showcases both ongoing opportunities that require some level of commitment, but also time-light opportunities in the form of one-off events, or short-term volunteering.  Help make sponsored walks, runs and marathons possible, take responsibility for the running of unique one-off exhibitions, festivals or other live events, or head on a one-time residential to make a difference in the lives of young people!

Similarly, the Union’s What’s On calendar is a great place to see what’s already available here at UCL and get involved in their busy summer of events, too!

These opportunities are perfect if you’d like to volunteer but can’t find exactly what you’re looking for and don’t want to make a regular commitment.

Fourth stop: the Student-Led Project Directory and a little creativity

Your summer volunteering journey isn’t over yet!

So, you’ve changed an organisation for the better in one day, committed to making an ongoing difference in the lives of the beneficiaries of our charity partners, facilitated a couple of events and now you’re inspired to take the reins and start something of your very own?  Now we’re really talking!

Firstly, check out our current list of Student-Led Projects for some inspiration – or even to help one out with fellow UCL students – and let us know if you have your own bright idea for a community project.  We’d love to hear it, and we’re always here to make this a reality.  With training opportunities, up to £500 funding, 1-2-1 support and can help with volunteer recruitment. 

Planning ahead? We’re taking on new leaders for the 2021-2022 academic year right now and we want to hear from you!

Fifth stop: drop off the Postgrads!

If you’re a Masters student, an exclusive opportunity awaits you!  Bring your A-game for your dissertation by collaborating with local organisations and supporting communities in need with their research through the Community Research Initiative (CRIS)!

Alternatively, if you want to see just how volunteering can specifically benefit you and your studies, you can narrow your search in the Directory for opportunities relevant to your discipline.

Sixth stop: the Newsletter and some socials!

We’re continuing to publish our weekly newsletter throughout the entire summer, because we know just how useful it is!  Sign up now.  You’ll hear from us every week with featured opportunities, updates on what we’ve been up to and new ways of getting involved.  You can even tell us exactly what type of volunteering you want to hear about by selecting preferences when you sign up.

If newsletters aren’t your thing, we also send out updates on our socials– so give us a like on Facebook, follow along on Twitter, and check out our Instagram too!

Seventh stop: the inspiring stories of a few fellow students

If you need that final push from some unbiased sources, we’ve got that in abundance!  We always love to know what our dedicated students are up to, so we’ve got a whole library of student stories, in which your fellow UCL volunteers share their experiences and why you should get involved too.  Take it from them, as they share why they love what they do!

Eighth, and final, stop: the Volunteering Service inbox

Your curated, whistle-stop tour of a summer of volunteering is nearly over, but if you’re still not convinced, you’re a little hesitant, you’ve got a question or two, or you’ve thought of something you’d like to get involved in that we’ve not quite covered, our email inbox is always open!  Drop us a line and we’d be happy to support you getting started with volunteering this summer!

Phew! The epic 2021 tour is drawing to a close, and the summer you got stuck into volunteering is over.  We hope by now you’ll really feel you’ve made a difference and contributed to our truly wonderful volunteering community with your motivation, commitment and initiative.

So, what are you waiting for?  Use this guide to get started now by signing up at your first stop; the Summer Series of Social Hackathons.  Because, as we said earlier:

Summer is officially here!

Written by Rebecca Stewart, Events Assistant