Headteacher’s blog: Student Volunteering Week

Student Volunteering Week has been running for 17 years and this year it takes place from February 19-27.

It celebrates the impact of young volunteers and encourages students to take part in civic life.

At Urmston Grammar we understand the importance of starting a lifelong habit of volunteering at a young age.

We encourage students to get involved in a whole range of volunteering activities. These have included one-off international projects such as the team that travelled to Tanzania last year to collaborate on a community building initiative. We also encourage Year 12 students to follow the ASDAN mentoring programme and give up an hour a week to mentor younger pupils and other students organise Christmas parties for pupils from Delamere School and for the elderly residents of Urmston.

Many of our students are involved in volunteering through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Students have coached volleyball, taught primary children French, Italian, German and Spanish or started local environmental campaigns.

Each summer many Year 11s and 12s use the long summer holiday to take part in the National Citizen Service (NCS). Working in teams, they plan, fundraise and make a difference by putting new skills into practice as they deliver a community project.

Volunteering not only helps other people but enriches the life of the volunteer too. It gives volunteers a sense of purpose and wellbeing, it develops empathy and is a chance to meet new people. Students get a broader view of life which helps them mature and become rounded adults.

Universities are very interested in applicants who have shown they can dedicate themselves to worthwhile activities outside their studies.

Volunteering allows young people to gain new skills and work experience. It could even open up opportunities that they never knew existed. While there are certain time pressures in teenagers’ busy lives, there are always ways to contribute to society.

What to look for:

Follow your passion: For instance if you are keen on sport why not volunteer at the local parkrun. Sports events cannot go ahead without marshalls, timekeepers, results recorders. The good news is it requires not special skills just plenty of enthusiasm and probably only takes 90 minutes out of your week whenever you can spare a Saturday morning.

Use your talents: Donate your skills. Small charities often don’t have a budget for photography or social media work. Many teenagers have a decent camera on their phone and are fully up-to-date with a the major platforms. Perhaps you could teach a technophobe how to use the internet

Think small: Volunteering to help an elderly neighbour is just as worthwhile as fundraising for a national charity. Helping with their weekly shop could be life-changing for them and easy for you.

Find something that will help your future career: If you are looking to teach, volunteer with Scout or Guide Associations to gain experience of working with children.

There are an array of organisations that offer teenagers volunteer opportunities. Check out this list from Volunteer Centre Manchester.

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