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Students share their tips on how to spread community joy

Students share their tips on how to spread community joy

This Student Volunteering Week 2023, we’re delighted to post a guest blog from our friends at Harrogate College, sharing their experiences and top tips for volunteering  

Students share their tips on how to spread community joy

In recent years, you may have heard talk of social disconnect within our communities, with increased rates of isolation and loneliness being reported across all age groups. 

With more and more of our social interaction taking place online, along with the decline of traditional community hubs such as leisure centres and town halls, many fear that we are losing touch with our local communities.

However, new research from the National Lottery Community Fund tells an entirely different story. Their studies show that almost three quarters of people in the UK feel as though they are a part of their local community, and it is young people who are leading the way.

78% of those aged 18-24 feel connected to their local community, and as a result are the demographic most likely to volunteer, with 71% stating they currently volunteer or have done so in the past.

This week is Student Volunteering Week, and to mark the occasion, learners at Harrogate College are sharing their experiences with social action, along with their top tips on taking your first steps into the world of volunteering.

Play to your strengths

Each one of us has a unique set of talents, which are worth considering when it comes to choosing what type of volunteer work you’d like to do.

Start by thinking about your strengths, what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. You’re more likely to make a positive impact if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and can bring something special to the table.

T Level Childcare student, Abi Pollitt, has always had a passion for working with young children. As well pursuing this within her studies, Abi decided to use her knowledge and skills to help out in her local community.

Abi says, “I’ve always been fascinated by how children’s minds work, and I enjoy watching them mature and learn about the world around them.

“I’ve always been good at engaging with younger ones, and helping them discover their interests, which often turn into hobbies or passions.

“I currently volunteer at my local Rainbows group, and because I’m doing something I love, it barely feels like work at all.”

Stick to your schedule

According to the National Lottery’s research, one of the biggest barriers to volunteering is that lots of us find it difficult to find some free time. Trying to fit an unpaid role into an already busy schedule is challenging, and it's important to not place undue pressure on yourself in order to help others.

But volunteering does not always mean ‘extra work’. In fact, there are lots of ways that you can use volunteering to work towards your personal goals, even if you’re in full-time employment or education.

Ryan Hodgson is currently working towards his diploma in sports coaching and development, and uses some of this time to coach boys and girls football at Boroughbridge Athletic Football Club. 

Ryan says, “As a student, it's important that I not only make time for my studies, but also add experience to my CV.

“Coaching at the club has given me some valuable work experience, as well as an opportunity to connect with different people.

“I feel like I’m now a much better coach than when I started, and volunteering has helped me to decide where my future career ambitions lie.”

Strength in numbers

Florence Drayson-Clarke, Social Action Apprentice at Harrogate College says: “Like many things, volunteering is so much more rewarding when you share it with others.

“Being part of social action projects is a great way to turn tasks that may be difficult or mundane into a really rewarding experience.”

Over the past year, Florence has been working hard putting this sentiment into action. She’s been expertly leading a team of staff, students and members of the public who have come together to renovate a green space on the college grounds. 

This green space, aptly named the Garden of Sanctuary, is intended to be a safe space for refugees and asylum seekers who attend the college.

Florence added, “gardening and working outdoors can be excellent for mental health and wellbeing, and projects like these are great to start with friends or colleagues.”

Listen out for local vacancies

You’ve picked your passion, assembled your team, but where are you going to start? If you don’t have anywhere specific in mind, keep your eyes peeled on local vacancies to give you some inspiration.

Creative Media student, Ryla Hirst, has always jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at college, but wanted to take her social action further. 

Ryla says, “I started by searching for volunteering opportunities online, and saw that there were plenty of charity shops that needed weekend volunteers. 

“I now spend some of my free evenings and weekends volunteering at my local Scope branch, helping out in the shop where I can.

“Throughout my time at Scope, I’ve learnt about the incredible work they do, and what it takes to maintain a charity. I’m really proud to be playing my part.”

So, now that you’ve heard from the experts, all that's left is to get started and spread some community joy. 

Happy volunteering!


If you're a young person interested in volunteering, visit our web page or pop in to Ripon library on Wednesday 15 February 2-5pm to be inspired by the variety of ways you can help out.   

13 February 2023