Author: Amy Craig, Centre for Collaborative Learning

This week is Student Volunteer Week in the UK, this has made me think about the benefits for volunteering or giving back to your community. At UCLan our Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership are hosting a student Volunteering fair to inform students of the benefits to volunteering, not only in learning new skills but also for your career prospects and mental health.

Volunteering at UCLan

“Volunteering is at the very core of being a human.  No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.” – Heather French Henry

Giving back to charities and your local community is something that I have grown up believing in. Over the last few years, we have seen lots of examples of volunteering during the Pandemic, from collecting for Foodbanks, working in Testing and Vaccine centres, and assisting those neighbours shielding by doing shopping and collecting prescriptions. Sometimes the smallest act can make a massive difference to another person’s life.

As well as using my Time to Shine days I have also volunteered in my own time, I have donated blood and platelets for the NHS blood bank, helped collect food donations at Tesco with FareShare and The Trussell Trust Foodbanks and worked on a local farm gleaning excess produce that can be sent to local FareShare Foodbanks and soup kitchens rather than it being ploughed back into the ground due to the Farmer not being able to sell it to supermarkets.

As a staff member at UCLan (University of Central Lancashire) I have regularly taken the opportunity to use the Time to Shine volunteer day that we are given as part of the People Teams offer to staff.

“The Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) carried out some research on Student Volunteering called ‘Bursting the Bubble’ 2010. The research found that 83% of the students asked, acknowledged that volunteering had enhanced their employability, 51% suggested that by volunteering their social capital had improved and they had made contacts in their career- related field, whilst 48% said by volunteering they now had more clarity on their future career aspirations”. Kathryn Huskisson CVCL

Over the years I have volunteered at St Catherine’s Hospice in Preston as this is a charity close to my heart. St Catherine’s relies on volunteers to help run the Hospice, Charity shops and the Mill café due to the low Government funding received towards running costs. There are various ways to volunteer at the Hospice, I have worked in the office using my administrative skills to update donations onto their database, worked in the Mill Café and tended the Gardens.

Lorraine, Kelly and Amy at St Catherine’s Hospice

In August 2019 along with CCL colleagues Kelly Stewart and Lorraine Dacre Pool we spent the day at St Catherine’s assisting the ground maintenance crew in the Gardens, we spent the day collecting leaves, clearing paths and tidying flower beds. It was a physical day’s work, but it was worth it knowing that the residents and their families would be able to enjoy looking out and seeing the beautiful gardens in full bloom.  

Time to Shine meant I could give back a little something to help support the fantastic work of Hospice. It was also a brilliant opportunity to spend time with my colleagues out of work and get to know them better too. Win, win all round!” Kelly Stewart – CCL

 ‘The Time to Shine days spent at St Catherine’s Hospice have been a great opportunity to support an amazing local charity, but also to take some time out from the daily routine to pause and reflect.’ Lorraine Dacre Pool – CCL

Within CCL we have a number of colleagues who have volunteered over the years. Phil Longwell, Study Skills Tutor has volunteered for various charities and overseas projects using his Teaching experience to assist with English lessons. Phil has attributed his volunteer work in 2006 as the reason he got into Teaching, finding a passion for a career that has spanned more than a decade.

“In October 2006, I embarked on what would be one of the best experiences of my life, working for the charity Volunteer Africa teaching orphans in Mwanza, Tanzania.” Phil Longwell

If you are a UCLan staff member and would like to use your Time to Shine day click here to find out more information on how you can help. Alternatively review volunteer opportunities to use your Time to Shine day here .

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill


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