Volunteering in your local community connects you with others and creates positive change.
Over the past academic year, the team at Bristol Hub have supported over 180 Bristol students to engage in social action.
Bristol Hub manager Sorcha Young shares the impact that volunteering can have:
“Social action takes many forms. It can range from donating money to good causes to creating campaigns or running community-based events. I love making a change by getting hands-on and volunteering in my community.”
85% of Bristol Hub’s student volunteers agreed that participation enhanced their well-being during university. Where there are many challenges to university, such as loneliness, academic pressures and an overwhelming amount to do, volunteering provides a space to escape and connect.
In April, Bristol Walk Fest partnered with the Careers Service to run a City Challenge, with the goal of getting input from student volunteers on ways to engage younger walkers with their events.
Bristol Walk Fest is an annual walking festival, with events taking place all over the city. We chatted to Jennifer Graham, their 2023 Event Manager, about their experience.
Jen, can you tell us what Bristol Walk Fest is all about?
Bristol Walk Fest began over a decade ago and is a celebration of all things walking. The free festival, which regularly attracts over 7,500 attendees year-on-year, showcases the best of Bristol for everyone to enjoy, either individually or with others.
The festival takes place during May to coincide with Living Streets’ National Walking Month and offers a wide variety of walking activities, personal challenges, self-guided walking routes and discussion events. The (mostly free) walks and activities are for all backgrounds and levels of fitness.
For our latest City Challenge, we teamed up with local Bristol charity BristolHub, an organisation that supports University of Bristol students to tackle social challenges, learn about issues and connect with each other.
So what is a City Challenge? and why should you take part?
We caught up with Hannah (BA Politics and International Relations) and Apoorva (MA Economics and Finance) who attended the most recent City Challenge, along with Will Westgarth of Bristol Hub, to hear all about the programme and why they recommend you take part in a future one. Here are their five top reasons :
1. You can make a real difference to a local charity
During a City Challenge, you help a Bristol non-profit tackle an issue they are facing. You learn about a local cause, help improve them and have a positive impact on the local community. Our most recent challenge was with Bristol Hub. Hannah, who’s in her second year, said, “I aspire to work in the non-profit sector so insight into a small charity and the way it works was really helpful for me.”
The charity gets a lot too.
Will of Bristol Hub said, “The Challenge helped Bristol Hub further understand students’ desires when it comes to opportunities and how we can best reach out and connect with students. They came up with incredibly detailed and well thought-out presentations, with suggestions which we will take on board for the next academic year.”
Last month, the Bristol Students’ Union hosted its much-anticipated annual Student Volunteering Fair, as part of Student Volunteering Week.
The fair had a lot to offer, with over 40 organisations showcasing their work and encouraging students to get involved.
From supporting refugees to empowering older people, there was a diverse range of organisations present at the fair and it was an excellent opportunity for students to develop their skills and make meaningful connections with like-minded individuals.
Towards the end of term, as many of us were beginning to wind down for the winter break, the Careers Service, in collaboration with the SU Volunteering Team, were busy organising a Winter Tea Party for some of Bristol’s elderly residents.
This initiative, one of the Service’s community engagement activities, saw them take over the Richmond Building’s Carpenter Room and share some festive cheer in the form of food, chat, and entertainment.
The Winter Tea Party welcomed fifty members of the community from Parkway Methodist Church, Brunelcare, and St. Monica’s Trust; together with a number of student volunteers and society representatives who supported the guests and helped ensure they had an enjoyable afternoon.
Following a highly successful first year of City Challenges, Girls Are INvestors (GAIN) took part in hosting the first City Challenge of the new academic year.
Students tackled the question of ‘How we can encourage women into finance and bust myths?’ in groups before presenting their ideas to GAIN, allowing the charity to use these ideas in their future work.