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From walking dogs through to healthy eating workshops and conservation endeavours, students have been playing an active role in supporting the local community.

From Monday, February 10 to Friday, February 14 the University’s Volunteering and Mentoring team organised a variety of events and activities showcasing volunteering.

A wide range of volunteering opportunities was showcased throughout the week. The Welly Wednesday conservation volunteering project gave up their time to help re-lay the Nature Reserve woodland walk at the Countess of Chester Country Park. Nine volunteering providers visited the Parkgate Road Campus, Chester, to talk to students about how they can get involved with various schemes and the first volunteer marketplace was held at the Warrington Campus with Guide Dogs UK and the RSPCA bringing along their furry friends Ellie, Fizz and Norman, who received lots of fuss from the students.

Seven students shared their inspirational volunteering stories on social media, such as Amethyst Elson, a second year Bioveterinary Science student, who credits volunteering for pushing her outside of her comfort zone and helping her to develop as a leader, and Chloe Dempsey, a third year Psychology student, who said her volunteering experience teaching in Fiji was the best experience of her life and taught her so much about other cultures. Two students, Kaylee Sprigmore and Courtney Smith from the Welly Wednesday group, held an ‘Instagram takeover’ talking through a day of conservation, and Zarwa Jafar, who volunteers with CHEW (Chester Healthy Eating Workshops,) showed what is involved in volunteering on the project which supports Chester Aid to the Homeless service users.

The Volunteering team also offered micro-volunteering, volunteering time via a small, short task that usually makes up a larger project, as part of the week. Through collaborating with Green Chester, the University’s Sustainability Unit and with a local organisation, two micro-volunteering activities were offered – Social Butterflies and Bee Hotels. Social Butterflies is a campaign by Age-Friendly Cheshire West to encourage groups or organisations to craft butterflies for display in areas which will reach the elderly, to demonstrate that people are thinking of them. The student volunteers created a large, ‘University of Chester’ butterfly, which was decorated with a collage which will be gifted to a local residential home. Green Chester offered a session showing students how to make bee hotels, to be hung in the University grounds as homes for solitary bee species such as leaf-cutter bees and mason bees.

The University offers countless ways to get involved with volunteering. Beth Antonious, who is currently studying for a Master’s in Family and Child Psychology, said: “I volunteer with Passion for Learning and I am also a Student Experience Rep. At Passion for Learning, I help facilitate after school enrichment clubs for primary school children. I love helping the children and find the experience really rewarding. Also, the volunteering has led to me gaining an internship with the charity! As an SER, I help feedback student views on the course to try and improve the course for everyone. I am really passionate about trying to make things better and this is a great opportunity to do it.”⠀

Shaunagh Smith, Volunteer Co-ordinator at the University, said:We absolutely loved getting to meet so many people throughout the week and can’t wait to see more staff and students get involved with volunteering. It really is the perfect way to give back and show kindness.”


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