The LSE Volunteer Centre has received some fantastic nominations for the LSE Organisation of the Year Award 2022! Organisations have been nominated by LSE students and LSE members of staff. We’re incredibly proud to work with so many enthusiastic and passionate organisations who are committed to making positive impact. The award winners will be announced at our in-person LSE Volunteer Awards ceremony on Wednesday 4 May, and we’ll be tasked with the difficult decision of choosing them.
Organisation Name: Agora
Volunteering with Agora has been a great opportunity to get involved in the foreign policy and think tank sector. This sector tends to be competitive and challenging for entry-level applicants. Agora offers students with the chance to gain skills and experience in this area alongside their studies. The grassroots dimension to their approach is particularly inspiring. They acknowledge that students have innovative and fresh ways of approaching foreign policy issues, yet lack the platform to have these ideas heard. They thus give LSE students the opportunity to voice their take on crucial issues which shape our lives and the world around us. Lastly, they thoroughly support the ideas proposed by volunteers. They approach everyone working at the organisation as equal, no matter their experience, allowing individual creativity to flourish.
Initially joining the organisation as an Intern through the LSE Internship scheme, I was immediately made to feel both welcome and included in the work that the Think Tank does. They trusted me and quickly promoted me to head of the newly formed London Regional Group, and routinely work with LSE students through events and careers fairs at LSE. The organisation is overall a great place to volunteer at.
Organisation Name: Bail for Immigration Detainees
BID is a small independent charity that provides free legal advice to people held in immigration detention centres throughout the UK. BID’s services represent a lifeline for many people, particularly those with learning difficulties, those who struggle with English, and those who do not have the financial means to pay for legal representation in the difficult – and often unexpected – situation they find themselves in. During my time volunteering at BID I have been given the chance to work on interesting research projects into human rights based areas of concern that may be affecting our clients, and to attend remote tribunal hearings to gauge whether this new method was producing fair results, particularly for those people without lawyers to advocate on their behalf, in addition to my usual work with the legal team. The training opportunities are also excellent for those who wish to pursue them, with the chance to work towards OISC accreditation in the areas of asylum and protection and immigration law which can open doors to further opportunities in this sector. Although the work is highly rewarding, it is the people that make BID such a great place to volunteer. I was made to feel like a valued member of the team right from my very first day at the organisation, and there is a wonderful atmosphere of team spirit in the office. There is a culture of supporting each other, epitomised by the enthusiastic rounds of congratulations and shared celebration when receiving the news that a case you worked on was successful, and mutual support when dealing with some of the more difficult aspects of the role, which, due to the subject matter involved can be emotionally challenging at times.
Organisation Name: Dialogue Society
The Dialogue Society has invested a lot of time and effort in strengthening its relationship with the LSE and its volunteers this year. The charity participated in a Charity Tuesday, joined the LSE Community Engagement Programme (CEP) 2022 and will shortly start the LSE’s Summer Volunteering Scheme for Disabled Students 2022. Additionally, the Dialogue Society held an iftar dinner at the LSE in collaboration with the LSE Faith Centre at which they furthered the ‘community theme’ and celebrated the work of the volunteers who collaborated with them on the CEP. Indeed, during the CEP, I observed how the charity consistently went out of its way to be present for its student team, contribute to the students’ intellectual and personal development, introduce them to useful networks, and show its gratitude for their efforts. The charity held ‘weekly huddles’ with the students, introduced them to faith leaders and academics from across the UK, modelled interview technique for them, created special certificates for the students at the end of the programme, received with pleasure applications for volunteering/internships from the students, and thanked them both verbally at the iftar celebration and in writing. The students worked very hard for the charity, producing an excellent report and reflection (which received a Special Commendation at the CEP Finals’ Day) that resulted from a very successful collaboration which involved a strong investment from all parties.
I engaged in the Community Engagement Programme 2022, working with Dialogue Society as well as Church of England. During the whole project, my team received a lot of support from Nuran. She’s always there if we have any questions. As we don’t know how to write a report, Nuran walked through the whole structure of the report and explain patiently, which is very professional and friendly. My team and I gained a lot from this experience. Moreover, we’re invited to a dinner hold by Dialogue Society , where for the first time we met in person, and we knew other excellent members of Dialogue Society.
Organisation Name: WONDER Foundation
The WONDER Foundation has been a strong point of support for me in my volunteering journey since I have been interning with them since July 2020. I have gained so much useful insight into the charity sector as well as its mission to empower women through education and employment. WONDER is supported by numerous LSE students and alumni on its permanent staff and volunteer team, and it has given our students valuable experiences in volunteering such as research, project management, and workshopping. WONDER has helped me to fulfill my passion for women’s rights and has provided an avenue for me to help drive social change. I am forever grateful for the amazing staff at WONDER who have been valuable mentors to me and the rest of the student volunteer team by providing us with career advice and networking opportunities.
Despite being a small team, WONDER works incredibly hard to make volunteering with them an enriching experience. The team constantly checks in on you and your well-being and is happy to let you choose which projects you want to volunteer on. They also include you in conferences and workshops that they run with partner organisations thus also equipping you with numerous soft skills as well. They also enabled me to meet other LSE students who volunteered for them through these events. Finally, they are a very understanding team – if I need to take some time off due to a heavy load of deadlines they were always very understanding. Just a wonderful team all around.