Celebrating students and staff volunteering in the community

It’s National Volunteering Week and Christ Church is celebrating staff and students who have been giving up their time to volunteer and support the community.

From peer mentoring and school outreach activities, working on the frontline with NHS responders, to setting up check-in chat services for the vulnerable, these are just a handful of activities that students and staff have been undertaking.

The University wants to shine a light on some of the fantastic volunteers and share their stories.

Members of Canterbury Creatives have been using their crafting skills to create items to support others during the pandemic. Face masks have been made as well as uniform wash bags donated to Maidstone Hospital.

Francesca Hufton, who is studying Mental Health Nursing, has been working as an NHS responder, which involves helping those who are high-risk or vulnerable, by doing their shopping, collecting prescriptions, or having a chat on the phone to those who may be feeling overwhelmed. Francesca has logged 147 volunteering hours.

She said: “I’ve enjoyed being able to make a difference this way. It is an amazing feeling when you can see how much of a difference it makes to people’s lives, and I highly recommend joining NHS volunteer responders if you feel like you want to be involved and want to make someone’s day by doing something they may be currently struggling with. It is a job I certainly feel proud of.” 

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor said: “I’d like to thank all of our staff and students for their outstanding volunteering contribution before and during the Coronavirus pandemic. The hours of work and commitment they have shown to supporting our local communities has made a positive difference to all involved.”

Maria Goldfinch, in the Estates and Facilities department, has been helping the Pilgrims Hospices in Margate by assisting with catering as well as helping patients and families with the day-to-day running of the hospice. Maria said: ‘I became involved with the charity through responding to a social media call out for help within the hospices during the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone was so welcoming and committed to what they do. It is a pleasure to work with them and I feel I have gained new insights into the charity too.’

In October, the University will be hosting Student Volunteering Awards and will be announcing the Community Volunteer of the Year as well as recognising the special contributions students have made during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Briony Walsh, who studies BSc Physical Education and Sport & Exercise Science is one of the nominees in the Sports and Physical Activity Volunteer of the Year category. Briony set up a sports kit donation project to support Tanzanian athletes. She has also coached young people at Ashford Athletics Club and works as an ambassador for Shepway Sports Trust which involves delivering inspiring sports sessions to primary school Children.

Tom Athene who is studying Geography, Selina Agyapoong studying Public Health, Akila Tabbi who is studying a MPhil/PhD in Education, as well as Ruby Porter and Sophie Lamb, both studying Counselling, Coaching, and Mentoring have all been nominated for a Peer Mentor of the Year Award. Peer Mentors are students who are trained to provide a safe and confidential space for fellow students to talk freely and ask questions. They provide reassurance and guidance to help their fellow students succeed by sharing their knowledge and experience of University life. 

Dana Harvey has been nominated in the Outreach Ambassador category and has been praised for her work in schools. Dana has also been nominated for a National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Student of the Year Award for her commitment to widening participation work including her dissertation into the impact of the University’s work with disadvantaged students.

Read more at Christ Church Media News Centre.