‘I’m really glad I signed up after hesitating for a little while because of my lack of familiarity with volunteering. I’m excited for other students with little to no experience with volunteering to also get to be part of this enriching programme next year and will definitely be spreading the word about it around!’ (Student participant from the 2021 programme)
Last year, the LSE Volunteer Centre ran the first ever Community Engagement Programme, which involved seven interdisciplinary teams of LSE students from all degree levels performing voluntary consultancy work for seven of the Centre’s charity partners. Each charity provided their team with a brief which contained a ‘challenge’ the charity faced. The teams investigated and wrote reports of their findings, which ended with a series of recommendations for the charities. Projects centred on causes including sustainable development, combating homelessness, saving the environment, achieving educational equity, and social care. LSE alumni mentored each of the teams.
The support the LSE provided included regular check-ins; and resources, advice and support sessions on matters including research ethics, research methods, data management, career development, and report-writing. Find more information about the programme on our website and last year’s blog we wrote for the programme’s launch.
We received fantastic feedback! Our student volunteers reported that they gained academically, professionally, and personally from the experience. They told us that that built meaningful connections to others in the LSE community during a most difficult year, gained deep insight into volunteering as a means of giving back, made a tangible social impact, acquired valuable professional experience in fields that interested them, increased in confidence, learned and applied research methods, developed team-work and collaboration skills, gained career mentors, and greatly enhanced their understanding of the causes for which their charities work. Four of our fantastic volunteers, Husein Alghaban, Neher Fazelbhoy, Rhifa Ayudhia and Madison Luick, wrote in-depth reflections on their experiences.
Our charity partners reported that the programme gave them an opportunity to outsource research they would not otherwise have been able to conduct, and resulted in reports whose contents would inform their organisations’ work (including being taken to the boards of directors). ‘Sparky’, ‘intelligent’, ‘warm’, ‘hardworking’, ‘independent’, ‘not afraid of thinking innovatively or asking us the tough questions’, ‘professional’, ‘dedicated’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘thoughtful’ and ‘fantastic’ were some of the words which the charities used to describe you – the LSE student body!