We were delighted to award Dumisani Gwakuba with the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to the LSE Community award at the LSE Volunteers celebratory event on 28 April. Dumisani, through his volunteering, has shown a huge amount of dedication to improving the experiences of other LSE students over the past year. We caught up with him to see how he felt about the award and what he would say to other LSE students who are looking to volunteer.
Q. Please describe the programme you were volunteering with. What are their aims?
I am one of LSE Peer Supporters who are under the LSE counselling services. I was part of a team comprised of LSE undergraduate and graduate students that act as student counsellors in LSE. The aim is to provide student led, informal and confidential support to LSE students who would like some emotional support, help and reassurance.
Q. What was your volunteering role?
Not only did my role involve being a LSE Peer Supporter but also act as a resident Peer Supporter at Bankside Hall. My role included being a close point of contact for students in Bankside. My responsibilities also included making referrals to LSE services to students that needed them, such as the LSE Counselling services, LSE Disabilities and Wellbeing Services. The main crux of my role is to have meet-ups or casual meetings with students who personally approach me and have issues they want support in. I also receive continuous training by the LSE Counselling Services throughout the year on contemporary topics of interest such as suicide, self-harm and homesickness to better prepare us to aid the students better.
Q. How have you benefited from volunteering?
Volunteering has a lot of benefits as many people know. This year is has helped meet new people outside my discipline. I have also learned a lot of soft skills such as teamwork and communication skills.
Having run a charity donation box for LSESU RAG outside Houghton Street in my first year, I gained resilience and self confidence from the sometimes grueling experience of being rejected and ignored. I also appreciate that I have been introduced to a lot of socio-economic problems such as mental health issues. All in all, it has been a fun experience for me, and I have become more self aware, and I agree that volunteering has definitely improved my LSE experience.
Q. How did you feel when you found out you had been nominated, and won, the Outstanding Contribution to the LSE Community award?
At first I was shocked because I felt like there where many people, especially in the Peer Support group would have deserved this award. Nonetheless, it is such an honor to know that my efforts as a Peer Supporter are been recognised around LSE. People have now recognised me and have been inspired. They seem to be interested to start volunteering now.
Q. What would you say to other LSE students to encourage them to volunteer?
Volunteering is really something that will enhance your LSE journey. There are so many studies and surveys that show that volunteering does make your student life in university much better. You always get more out of it than you put in to it. Its normal to feel like your time is scarce and precious especially in a high pressured university like LSE. However, there is always time we can squeeze in to make society better off. Whether it be collecting donations for Cancer Research, sorting donations at a charity shop or even teaching English. Each and every effort you make at these different ventures will be making a difference in our societies and eventually the world.
If you’re inspired by Dumisani to get involved in volunteering check our opportunities here and overseas on CareerHub and if you want help choosing the right role for you we can help – book a one-to-one appointment with us!