Students volunteer to support their local communities

Colleges took part in loneliness and local sports initiatives as part of volunteers’ week

Colleges took part in loneliness and local sports initiatives as part of volunteers’ week

College learners across the country this week helped to build wellbeing hubs and served free lunches in their communities as part of Volunteers’ Week 2024. 

Volunteers’ Week is a national initiative running from June 3 to 9 June, which has been running for 40 years and in the past drawn interest from around 140 colleges.  

It is also being pushed by the Good for Me Good for FE campaign, which launched its first awards ceremony last year and is due to open nominations for next year’s ceremony in a few months’ time. 

This year it features some of the 2023 Good for Me Good for FE Award winners, including Nottingham College, which won volunteering college of the year last year. 

Plastering, carpentry and joinery students at the college have built a wellbeing hub on the campus, which is set to open to students in September and will be available to those who need downtime in between classes and/or access to wellbeing support. 

The group decided to take on the project after they learned that construction workers are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than those in other sectors.

Caleb Sansom a level 2 plastering student at Nottingham College

Caleb Sansom, a level 2 plastering student and one of the group leaders, said he wanted to help support others after experiencing his own mental health challenges. 

He was also recently named runner-up in the Nottinghamshire Police youth outreach team’s Live our Best Life awards, in the category of Bringing People Together. 

“Coming from a construction background, and also dealing with my own mental health issues, I know this is a real issue,” he said. 

Meanwhile, London South East Colleges’ students welcomed local residents into the college BR6 restaurant for a complimentary lunch as part of the London Borough of Bromley’s tackling loneliness initiative. 

Hospitality students ran the “warm Wednesdays” events this year and, due to popular demand, the college will be hosting its first “summer wellbeing Wednesday lunch” this month. 

LSEC’s strategic programme manager Karen Oliver said: “By volunteering in their local community, students understand the importance of what they are doing and the skills they are learning as they can see the impact directly on those living nearby.” 

Oliver was a finalist in the special recognition award for last year’s Good for Me Good for FE awards.

Uefa under 19s football tournament team Belfast Metropolitan College

Another finalist taking part in Volunteers’ Week is Natalie Thompson, from Belfast Metropolitan College, who was highly commended as staff volunteer of the year in the 2023 awards. 

Thompson (pictured right) is helping with mascots and half-time matches for young girls in the Uefa under-19s football tournament, which is being held in Northern Ireland in July. 

Sam Parrett, group principal and CEO of LSEC, which leads Good for Me Good for FE, said: “Volunteers’ Week is a great opportunity for us to once again shine a light on the amazing work being done by staff and students in colleges around the country, to support their communities. 

“It’s fantastic to see some of the winners of last year’s awards continuing their volunteering efforts and inspiring others. We are looking forward to launching this year’s awards and hearing about many more incredible people within our sector – and urge every college to get involved and nominate their community heroes!” 

Good for Me Good for FE is launching its second year of awards to  showcase the best local volunteering and fundraising efforts. Nominations will open in early September. 

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