Community Engagement Programme: why now?
The Volunteer Centre is excited to be launching a new Community Engagement Programme in Lent Term 2021! Unfortunately, applications have now closed but we’re exciting to start working with our volunteers next term!
Through Student Futures, we’re launching a brand-new initiative that empowers LSE students to make a difference to our communities by completing consultancy work on real-life problems that charities are facing. You might be helping a charity to decide where to position a new charity shop, or assisting a charity in diversifying its fundraising strategies.
Many of the partners that we work with are in greater need of volunteers than ever before. Having navigated their way through ten years of austerity, charities in the UK are now confronted by a fresh set of challenges owing to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has not only created an increased workload for charities, but also prompted a new series of government (and other) financial cutbacks. In the second half of 2020, UK charities face a predicted £10bn funding shortfall owing to the pandemic. Essentially, there is less money – but more to do.
The LSE has a long history of community engagement, which this programme seeks to build upon. Demand for the services offered by the Volunteer Centre increases year on year. This new programme is intended to increase our impact at a critical time, by offering 40 guaranteed student opportunities for community engagement in 2021 (this academic year 2020-21) to benefit six charities deeply. Being a programme that centres on research-based projects in which groups of students will perform voluntary consultancy work for charities over a period of 9 weeks, it is also qualitatively different from anything the Centre has offered before. This will benefit the charities in new ways – through research and idea generation. It will also open new doors for LSE students to volunteer.
This programme will appeal not only to people who have volunteered their time and expertise before and/or are well-versed in the fields of research and consultancy, but also to those who might know less about them. In particular, we want to work with students who are seeking a structured, guided volunteering opportunity, whose components interlink nicely with their current academic journey or future career journey in order that they might access (including for the first time) the world of community engagement without necessarily being familiar with it and/or whilst studying hard for a degree.
Every year, the Volunteer Centre strives further to widen access to volunteering at the LSE. Throughout the programme, participants will be supported by the Volunteer Centre, LSE Careers and the wider LSE in addition to the charities with whom they will be working. The Volunteer Centre will provide a suggested itinerary for the teams and has woven into the programme’s design a series of support sessions to inform the teams’ approach to the task. The knowledge and skills you will learn on this programme will be of direct benefit to you in your studies and future ambitions. Similarly, the knowledge and skills that you have learned from your studies can be applied directly in the programme.
We know that the LSE student body has an abundance of the skills, passion and drive needed to make these projects a real success! We want to help all participants to develop the skills and ideas which they already possess as well as to acquire new ones – all in pursuit of enhancing deeply the lives of the people around us whilst also enriching our own. You’ll be working in a team and with a variety of different stakeholders (at the LSE, in the non-profit sector, and beyond!), so strong interpersonal skills or a desire to develop them are a must!
We invite you to join us on this exciting journey, which will help to empower you to make a real difference to the communities we live in – not only in the near future, but also as a spur to further action!