Following our annual LSE Volunteer Awards that took place earlier this year in May we caught up with some of our award winners to hear more about their volunteering experience. Alice Rigo-Saitta (BSc in Sociology, 2022) was the deserving recipient of ‘Outstanding Contribution to the LSE Community 2022’. Read about her journey to winning this award.
What were your volunteering role(s)?
I began my volunteering journey three years ago when I started at LSE and joined the Raising and Giving team. I was also an active committee member in Women in Business and the Modern Languages Society. I had always volunteered growing up, but I took it to a new level at LSE, and it was more rewarding than ever. Soon volunteering and the society world at LSE had become a defining factor in my university experience.
In my second year, I volunteered my time as President of RAG, working with charities and LSE students both in the context of volunteering and fundraising. This led to a variety of adventures, from hosting conferences to runs to documentaries, all around the topic of charity.
Thanks to my volunteering with the Felix Project, a charity based in London, and making a charity documentary around sustainable fashion, I realised that the cause closest to my heart was environmentalism and sustainability. Thus I chose to volunteer my time in my third year as Sustainable Futures Co-President and Student Volunteering Ambassador — this was because I had worked with the Volunteer Centre as RAG president and realised how helpful, full of resources and kind they were!
Alongside bringing other students on my own volunteering trips around the theme of environmental activism, I also participated in a few (excellently organised) one-off volunteering experiences with the Volunteer Centre.
How did you feel when you won the award?
I felt very grateful for the community at the Volunteer Awards, students and staff with the desire to help others in wonderful ways. For me generosity and ‘giving back’ are some of my most important defining values. I am incredibly happy that there are people that I can share this with.
What achievement are you most proud of through your volunteering?
As my volunteering journey developed, I truly realised that nothing great can be achieved alone. In my final year, I was able (alongside my team at Sustainable Futures) to create a thriving and incredibly supportive community around environmentalism at LSE.
I found synergies between different society members and groups at LSE and we all came together — the Volunteer Centre, several societies, Sustainable LSE and more — to work on the sustainable cause.
I think that this was most clearly demonstrated in stall events such as the Student Volunteering Week or our Vintage Charity Sales, where I brought together dozens of students from different groups to fundraise, raise awareness and collaborate with charities.
I also tried my best to have a sustainable and lasting impact, which is very difficult with handovers at LSE as students move in and out of committee positions every year. This year we built a strong structure at Sustainable Futures and also created lasting connections — for example we brought together our work at SFS with that of the Volunteer Centre in a conservation project which will start next year.
How have you benefited from volunteering?
For all the reasons mentioned above. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a vast majority of students and staff at LSE, to sit on LSE boards and to hold meetings. I feel that I learnt and understood many things — including the importance of building a team, spotting what is worth it amidst all of the ‘noise’ and having a sustainable impact.
What would you say to other LSE students to encourage them to volunteer?
This is a difficult question as it is very personal. Volunteering is not something that you have to necessarily separate from the rest of the things you do. It can work best when you create a volunteering experience out of something you do in your daily life, have a friend in a society? Join as well. Want to take some time off? Join a one-off volunteering session, which could even take you on a trip outside London.
I think that it is about proactively creating opportunities (whatever the size) to give back, and in the process grow immensely, meet people, get lots of experience and learnt a lot. It can sound cliché but it’s actually incredibly true!
If Alice has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. And why not follow us on Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.