Volunteering roles consistently make up around 30% of the intensive skills submissions on the Bristol PLUS Award, as well as a huge proportion of the work experience submissions. The impact this experience has on students can be extremely far-reaching, both personally and professionally. Volunteering can be a way of getting out of the student bubble, making a difference, giving back, and demonstrating your values – all whilst developing your employability skills. The 2016-17 Outstanding Award projects reflected this benefit, showcasing the significant contributions from students volunteering with organisation from Bristol Volunteers for Development Abroad to the NHS.
Hugh Kirby used his role as founder of Sporting Chance – a youth sports project linking the University’s Sport, Exercise and Health Division and local charity 1625 Independent People – to achieve a Distinction in the Outstanding Award in his final year at the University of Bristol.
The project supports vulnerable young people, including refugees, asylum seekers, ex-homeless and ex-offenders, and offers them a positive outlet each week, giving them a chance to build skills including teamwork and communication skills, and informal mentoring/relationship building. Hugh received support from the Sport, Exercise and Health division and staff at the Students’ Union in setting up the project, highlighting the opportunities available to students who have a great idea and the motivation and skills to make it happen.
When asked before graduating ‘what are your career goals?’ he responded:
“Grades permitting, I will be joining the Lloyds Banking Group Commercial Banking (SME and Mid-Markets) Graduate Leadership Programme in September. I hope to build a successful career, and always be in a job where I am motivated and supported to succeed, and can see the real and tangible impact my work is having.”
We recently caught up with Hugh after several years in industry to see how the experience and skills gained through taking part in the Outstanding Award have helped his career take off.
“I’m currently nearing the end of Lloyds Banking Group’s Commercial Banking Graduate Scheme. The Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Awards are still proudly on my CV, because I think they really helped build my confidence through volunteering, and that undoubtedly helped me get to where I am now.
Being part of a relatively small subset of students who have the award differentiates you from other students and shows you engaged beyond your course alone, which I think is important. However, above all I thoroughly enjoyed the activities I undertook to achieve the Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Awards, and I think that even without the end goal of this extra award I would recommend them. The awards give you a different and rewarding experience at university – one where you meet new people and learn a lot about yourself!”
To find out more about the Awards visit our Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Award webpages. Introductory talks are running now – challenge accepted?
Want to get involved with volunteering? Keep an eye on the Bristol SU webpages for information about Student Volunteering Week – running 10 – 16 February 2020.