On Monday 21 October, over 50 LSE students, staff, governors and charities gathered together to kick-start another fantastic year of student volunteering at LSE. We were joined by the LSE Director, LSE SU RAG President and the General Secretary of the LSE Student’s Union. Over 40% of the student body at LSE volunteers their time towards giving back to the community on campus and in London and we spent the evening celebrating past volunteering successes and opening the discussion about how more can be done.
Dame Minouche Shafik, LSE Director, welcomed everybody in the opening speech. She touched on the importance of volunteering to her and how it can give people a sense of common purpose in times where some may feel there isn’t one. Minouche also thanked the LSE Volunteer Centre for helping her and her family to get involved in volunteering during the Christmas period. What stood out the most was her emphasis on how volunteering has a positive impact on the student experience whilst studying at LSE. Our annual research tells us that over 70% of students who volunteer feel that it improves their LSE student experience and it was great to see a school-wide recognition of this positive impact.
We were also joined by Harriet Bradshaw-Smith, MSc in Development student and Volunteer Officer at ReachOutUK, who highlighted the importance of LSE student volunteers in her speech. Harriet dispelled the myth that student volunteers are only volunteering for their CVs, in recognising that the LSE volunteers she had spoken to in ReachOut UK were motivated by their passion to give back to society and change the world. Our annual research also showed us this, highlighting that altruism is the biggest motivator!
LSE Volunteer of the Year 2019, Annie Thomlinson, also shared her experience of volunteering whilst being a student at LSE. She’s spent her time volunteering for Coin Street in their community choir and children’s club. Describing it as ‘one of the best experiences I’ve had at LSE’ Annie acknowledged how her volunteering had helped her to connect with people in the local community and provided her a topic of research in her final year dissertation. Annie, BA Social Anthropology, is also a returning Student Volunteering Ambassador.
The evening closed with David Coles, LSE Volunteer Centre Manager, thanking all for attending and opening up the discussion around student volunteering. He was proud to see the difference that LSE student volunteers can make to countless charities and their beneficiaries, whilst volunteering for causes that they are passionate about. ‘We’re proud to be part of making the LSE student experience the best it can be’, he said, whilst highlighting how volunteering helped students feel part of the LSE community.
We were delighted in the support shown by the LSE community to help more students start volunteering and the recognition of it’s importance to the LSE student experience. We look forward to sharing many students successes over the coming academic year.