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Unwin,E (ug)

February 9th, 2022

Student Volunteer Week: Volunteers of LSE 2022

2 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Unwin,E (ug)

February 9th, 2022

Student Volunteer Week: Volunteers of LSE 2022

2 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This week we’ve been celebrating some of the wonderful volunteering going on at LSE, and the people who take part in it. As part of this, we spoke to a collection of volunteers at LSE, to learn about their experiences with volunteering:

 

Julia Schönfeld, Law, 2023

“I’ve volunteered in the past at my local high school where I did fundraising to raise money for charities, and right now I’m the volunteering director for Amnesty here at LSE.  In the past year we’ve been holding events as part of the Write for Rights initiative, writing letters to local authorities about human rights violations, and seeing change actually occur as a result.  What I like about volunteering is that it gives you a chance to make a direct, first-hand impact whilst doing something that contributes to the greater good.”

 

Ed Unwin, International Relations, 2022

“The volunteering experience I like to talk about the most is the year I spent last year with a charity called City Year UK – an educational charity that helps to tutor students who would benefit from extra help in schools.  It was mid-lockdown, fully remote and I was working in a HR position – I’d never done anything like that before, but I really enjoyed having something outside the university to do during lockdown.  It was so good to get out of the LSE bubble, to do something a bit different, and I think it taught me a lot about work beyond what we learn at university – it was a lot of fun!”

 

Dan Lawes, International Relations and History, 2022

“Volunteering has been a big part of my life for around five or six years now.  At the age of 16 I founded a non-profit to try and get young people involved in the political process, particularly those who didn’t come from the sort of background where they had been encouraged to get involved.  I started out with a group of mates when I was 16, and since then I have got involved with other initiatives through volunteering, whether that’s the #IWILL campaign, that helps to get people involved with youth social action, or loads of other really cool projects.  I’m now actually a trustee for Youth Politics UK as well, which has been a brilliant part of my volunteering trajectory.  The feeling of fighting for a cause that you are passionate about is second to none, but also the skills that you gain from it are unparalleled, particularly interpersonal skills.  I’ve found that in the volunteering I have done so far you have to being able to multitask and to do everything – from talking to people, to organising events.  Those skills are so transferable to many fields, whether that be a career in politics or in diplomacy, and I feel that these skills I have gained through volunteering will be with me for a very long time.”

 

Isha Patel, Economic History with Economics, 2022

“I volunteer at Care for Calais which is a human rights organisation – they work with asylum seekers to provide them with food.  These people are currently based in temporary hotels and my role is to communicate with them to understand their family needs and what kind of facilities are available to them at the hotel, and to sign them up with foodbanks.  A specific difficulty I come across in this role is communication – the people we help speak a very diverse range of languages and I just speak English.  I try to incorporate images and use simple language to communicate with them, and in this way I manage to understand their needs despite this barrier.  My role has definitely taught me how important clear communication and empathy is, as these people have been through some very troubling times in their life.  You really need to listen with a fine ear.  I would like to go into consulting, and listening to and understanding clients’ needs is an important part of that job as well – I feel that my volunteering work has been really valuable preparation for that.”

Jorge Stevenson, Maths, Statistics and Business, 2022

“With Sustainable Futures we do a broad range of things, me specifically – I work in a managing role. The projects themselves try to find sustainable initiatives throughout the campus to tackle environmental issues.  For example, we’ve got one tackling waste – we’ve done a lot of work on plastic waste reduction; we’ve got one where we’re working on doing a report for catering about alternative packaging, to help them to recycle better.  It’s mostly about making incremental changes that will make a big difference in the long run.  You meet a lot of new people when getting involved in volunteering projects, and its really nice to see a policy that you helped to implement making a positive change.  It’s great seeing an impact, and feeling like you can really make a difference.  I’m hoping to work with The Felix Project in the future, and help out where I can.  Sometimes volunteering sounds like a bigger deal than it needs to be, when actually you can just pop and do something for twenty minutes – just twenty minutes out of your day can make a big difference.”

 

Alice Rigo-Saitta, Sociology, 2022

“I have a wide array of random interests, and I’ve done volunteering in a lot of different fields which has helped me to develop and to discover which interests I would like to pursue.  Right now I’m volunteering with an environmental crime organisation as a writer, I’m also the President of Sustainable Futures.  Sustainability is a cause that is really close to my heart, and I’ve volunteered in several projects at LSE including projects to reduce food waste, plastic waste, and covering lots of different areas of sustainability.  I’ve volunteered too with this amazing charity in London called The Felix Project which I would recommend to anyone.  It connects charities to food waste, solving the problems of food waste and food scarcity at the same time.  It really gets right to the core of the issue, so you know that your volunteering is making a useful difference – they are 100% reliant on volunteers.  I’ve found that with a lot of different causes, often it isn’t money that is most needed, it is volunteers to give their time.”

 

Michelle Soh, International Relations, 2022

“I’m the RAG (Raising and Giving) President and Part-Time Officer at the Student Union.  In this role I’m able to facilitate fundraising and oversee that at the Student Union, and I’m really excited to be doing that during this time – not exactly post-Covid, but in the in-between phase – to help really bring back what RAG was like before.  Last year we were only able to do virtual fundraising, so I’m looking forward to bringing back the fun stuff that I remember from before Covid hit!  I’m aiming to build the community and really engage people so that we can build a hub of fundraising.  Mental health is another huge, huge topic at LSE, we always talk about imposter syndrome.  Both of these topics are so relevant, and its exciting to be able to volunteer my time and build on the efforts of previous RAG presidents – it makes me really feel part of LSE.  I’ve learned so much from this role, and it’s great to go even deeper.  For example, last year I signed up to the Three Peaks Challenge, and although I had to defer the challenge to this year, I did all the fundraising last year at the time.  It really is doable if you put your mind to it  – within a few weeks I’d hit my target and raised £700!  When I signed up, I was worried that I wouldn’t make it, so hitting the target really boosted my self-confidence.  If people want to take on any challenges for RAG, they should go for it!”

 

Annie Wenn, International Migration and Public Policy, 2022

“For the past two years, I’ve been volunteering with Bail for Immigration Detainees – a legal charity based in Finsbury Park that helps people in immigration detention to apply for bail.  Through the peak times of the pandemic I was helping with research into the use of solitary confinement in detention centres and prisons, which has been an issue during Covid across Europe, but particularly in the UK.  Now that restrictions have lifted a bit, I’m back to my usual role – I’m a caseworker with the EEA team, taking calls from detainees and their families to our helpline, and helping prepare applications for bail for clients in detention who are EU or EEA nationals.  It’s incredibly rewarding – I love helping people, and the feeling when you hear that someone has been released as a result of the work we have put in to their case is unparalleled.  I’ve never been very good at running, but – or maybe this was the reason! – I set myself a challenge a couple of years back to run the Cardiff Half Marathon to raise money for Shelter Cymru – a charity that helps people facing homelessness across Wales.  Somehow I did it and made it round the course, which was a huge sense of achievement knowing that I had exceeded my fundraising target, and pushed myself to do something that I didn’t know I could – to help prevent homelessness, a cause I really care about.  I’d recommend volunteering to anyone who’d like to push themselves to try something new – it’s a great way to meet people, learn new skills, and I’ve learned that sometimes even the smallest thing can make a difference.”

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Unwin,E (ug)

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