Student volunteers at the University of Portsmouth have given more than 13,000 hours of their own time to volunteer in the local community, since September 2016.
Since the start of the new academic year, more students than ever have volunteered to help dozens of organisations in the Portsmouth community. Schools, charities, hospitals and clubs have benefited from student help, while the students gain valuable work experience and enjoy giving something back to the community.
The students mainly volunteer with community groups and with local branches of national organisations. They include charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Barnado’s, thePortsmouth Foodbank, the Portsmouth Carers Centre run by Portsmouth City Council and the Dementia Ward Volunteers at Queen Alexander Hospital. Students volunteer in local schools, helping pupils with their reading and this year students have partnered with Code Club, an after school club in six local schools teaching the basics of computer coding.
International Computer Science student and Code Club volunteer, Valeria Zaharia, said:
“I’m really glad I decided to volunteer. The kids are great, they seem to enjoy it a lot and they are eager to show each other how to do stuff if one of them is stuck, which is awesome. The IT teacher is really helpful and always happy to see us. I always leave the club full of energy and even on busy days it is a nice break that refills my batteries.”
Deputy Head and Literacy Manager at Cottage Grove Primary School, Cathy Light, said: “This year the reading scheme has had a fantastic year and many of the students remained with us for much longer than the agreed time, with some of them still attending. It’s been the most successful time I have seen at Cottage Grove. We really appreciate these extra volunteers and the children have thoroughly enjoyed working with them.”
The University runs a volunteering bank where students can choose and apply for roles and the Students’
Union and the Department of Sport and Recreation also run schemes. Each year, the University’s Volunteering Team respond to requests from new third sector organisations who want to work with the university and seek out organisations and roles which will provide University of Portsmouth students with relevant skills.
The Department of Employability encourages students to volunteer to boost their CV and help them gain valuable experience in the workplace. Jane Howe, the University’s Volunteering Coordinator said that volunteering helps students gain practical experience to support their graduate job applications.
“Students who volunteer regularly tell us how much they get from it. They appreciate the personal benefits but they also tell us how much they get from giving their time to a valuable cause and that it makes them feel part of the Portsmouth Community.”