There are many reasons why you should get involved with volunteering whilst at University.
Not only does it look good on your CV (calling all final year students who are panicking that they partied too hard these past 3 years and forgot to get enough experience), but volunteering offers a unique chance to meet new people from all different walks of life, help some amazing causes and campaigns, as well as raise important funds for charities.
It can be, cue the cliché, a life changing experience, like your friend’s gap year, as it opens whole new windows of opportunities, from possible graduate job offers to develop yourself as a person through various new skills.
Coming from someone who has done a fair share of volunteering in the past (from writing articles such as this, to sending letters to elderly members of the community to cleaning long drop toilets at Glastonbury festival), I urge all students to use their time at university wisely and do some volunteering.
Stop spending all your free time tagging friends in memes and scrolling through social media apps.
I dare you to go and do something unselfish. Help someone or something just for the sake of helping, without thinking about whether it will benefit you or not.
You will never get this free time again post-graduation, so you might as well make the most of it and do some volunteering.
But how do you get involved in volunteering in the first place?
Leeds University Union has a huge range of volunteering societies open to everyone and anyone! So my advice is to start here.
From Nightline, Bedside Buddies to Sexpression, there is a society to suit whatever you want to gain out of volunteering.
I personally have been involved with Leeds RAG (Raise and Give) society since my sponsored skydive in first year. This was my first real insight into the LUU’s largest official fundraising society and I have loved every minute of it since.
The society offers something for everyone to get involved with; from weekend raids which raise awareness and fund-raise for local charities, events finding students love, to overseas projects which help to improve the lives of impoverished communities. These are all accessible and inclusive – catering to students who may only be able to commit an hour, a week or six weeks to volunteering due to various other commitments.
The society also supports six key local charities to Leeds this year, making the society more localised and Leeds centred. So be sure check Leeds RAG Society out.
Moving on, Leeds University has its own database of all volunteering opportunities that students can get involved with on their Leeds For Life website. It is basically an Indeed for volunteering, with students only applying to those which suit their schedules and needs. I recommend checking out this online resource as it is regularly updated and deals with external charities and organisations who are looking for student volunteers.
Finally, if you want to make a difference, you can independently volunteer with the various Leeds based charities by directly getting in touch with them and finding out what volunteering opportunities they have available for students.
Charities are often underfunded and understaffed, receiving not enough funds from the government and supporting so many people with limited resources. They are organisations that will really benefit from an extra pair of hands, even if it is only every fortnight, and are often extremely grateful for whatever little or big help they receive from their volunteers.
For instance, Behind Closed Doors, a charity supporting people suffering from domestic violence in Leeds (and one of Leeds RAG’s key charities for 2017/18), are currently looking for volunteer Student Ambassadors to get students involved in discussions about domestic violence.
(As a side note, if this is something you or a friend are interested in doing and want more information email email@example.com, the RAG coordinator for 2017/18.)
Be sure to let them know your availability and be professional in your approach and you will get an unique insight into the third sector that others can only dream about.
Overall, I recommend that, if you are going to volunteer, that you volunteer for a charity, rather than doing something that will just benefit your CV and job prospects.
It is incredibly easy to volunteer, so what is stopping you?
Image Credit: Leeds University Union