Across LSE there’s lots of students volunteering and it’s not always through us, which we think is amazing! In fact, many people actually give their time through being a committee member or active part of an LSESU society. Here to tell you more is Student Volunteering Ambassador, Faye Mahon (BA Social Anthropology, 2022).
Does being part of a society count as volunteering?
Yes, although you may not think it, being part of a society is volunteering.
There are a few ways you can get involved with societies either by being a member or applying for a position on the subcommittee or committee.
Volunteering for partner organisations:
Many societies work towards a social mission and recruit volunteers for programs run by partner organisations. For example, Equality in Education is affiliated with Project Access International and are recruiting student mentors for their mentorship scheme.
Student Action for Refugees is another great example who partners with several organisations but also founded their own English Conversation Club to support refugees with their language skills.
There are also many ways to get involved with fundraising activities through societies. Although fundraising may have to take different forms throughout lockdown there is space for innovative ideas and new initiatives. For example, any member of Students for Children can apply for their fundraising subcommittee and be a part of organising their projects.
Are the STAR awards related to this?
Yes! The Student Training and Recognition Scheme (STARS) is a scheme run by LSE to encourage societies to be well-run, inclusive and fun groups. There are a range of criteria for which a society can gain points; the five categories are collaboration, inclusion, informed, specialist and community.
Members can gain points for engaging with the community by volunteering externally, attending a session run by the volunteer centre, organising fundraising or by representing LSESU when working with an external organisation. Make sure fill out the reflection form from the LSE Volunteer Centre to earn your points! Societies can earn Bronze, Silver or Gold awards so look out for these when choosing societies to be a part of.
Do you have any experience volunteering through a society?
Yes, this year I’m co-head of Creative Start which is a social project under Enactus LSESU. Creative Start works with long-term unemployed women from London to equip them with transferable skills. Throughout Michaelmas term we ran a teaching course and workshops on the basics of entrepreneurship and during Lent term we are running a mentorship course for the women to work with a personal mentor and business professional to develop a business plan.
Volunteering on this project through Enactus is a very rewarding experience and has been a great opportunity to learn a variety of skills. In particular it requires being very adaptable and sensitive to the needs of a range of stakeholders. The most rewarding part of this experience has been meeting the amazing women that we work with and being able to make a real impact on their lives. Enactus runs three social enterprises so I would definitely recommend checking their social media for ways to get involved.
Are there any societies in particular that you want people looking to volunteer to be aware of?
All of the societies I have mentioned throughout the blog are great! I would also give a shout out to Raising and Giving society, the fundraising arm of the Student Union. Their annual charities are The Felix Project, Refugee Action and Doctors Without Borders.
Overall, I feel that one of the most important and fulfilling aspects of volunteering is finding a cause you’re passionate about! LSE has over 200 societies so choose something you are interested in and give it a go!
If you have seen any societies at another university, have an interest that is not represented at LSE or have any new ideas for a club/ society then consider starting up a new one!
If you were inspired by this blog, it’s not too late to get your volunteering started! Check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities happening over the rest of Lent Term, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. If you want to share your volunteering experience with us, why not write us a blog? Have a scroll through our blog page to read what other students have written and get inspired!