Guest post: DigiLearn – Impact machine: measuring student social impact through volunteering
Author: Ali Melling – Project Manager Volunteering Section (School of Social Work, Care & Community
The Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership (CVCL), based within the Faculty of Health and Well-Being at the University of Central Lancashire, exists to co-create socially just positive change, through peer to peer knowledge exchange. At the University of Central Lancashire, we believe that student (and staff) knowledge sharing through volunteerism is intrinsic to emergent graduates, producing rounded socially responsible individuals who will continue to make positive impacts on society throughout their lives.
From 1999, the CVCL supported over 20,000 students and community volunteers. Since 2014 we have supported 5140 student volunteers, who between them have carried out 64,129.25 Hours of voluntary work which creates a time value of £801,615.52 to community knowledge economies. The CVCL also engages student volunteer peer educators in knowledge sharing with 500 stakeholder organisations, 271 directly involved in our REF Impact Case Study. Our current main themes are Mega Sports Volunteering, Russia; Sport’s Mentoring for International Development, Zambia and Morocco; Global Youth Solutions in Lancashire, Oman and Pakistan; and Barrier Football, utilising student peer mentoring and FA coaching skills to break down barriers to further and higher education.
Digital skills are intrinsic to our work. CVCL has an effective CRM system that monitors all our volunteers, the number of hours they commit, and the value of their time. This helps us produce accurate reports and data. Student volunteers can also down load an App so that they can input their hours from their smart phones as they volunteer. We are currently creating an impact mapping tool for volunteers called the Impact Machine. This will give CVCL a map of where the volunteering is taking place, locally, nationally and internationally, and how UCLan Students are making the most impact on our communities, as well as what they are doing. They will be able to upload case studies and create a portfolio on their impact and skills developed to share with employers once they graduate. The use of digital technology will enhance our work and that of our students. We are really looking forward to next year when we can pilot our Impact Machine.