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A University of Chester student has been awarded for his outstanding work in the local area.

Khairol Nizam Mansor received the Kirsty Craig Associates Award for volunteering more than 100 hours, welcoming people into the local Muslim community.

Khairol, who is from Malaysia and studying an MSc in Engineering Management told us about the work he does and his passion for volunteering.

Why did you decide to volunteer in the local community?

As a Royal Malaysian Navy Officer, I was always keen to make a positive contribution to the local community. I also wanted to learn new skills like entrepreneurship, project management and networking. What I love about this country is the fact there is a platform for all people to achieve their goals. However, some communities do see some racial divisions and this was an issue I wanted to address with my projects. The UK is famous for its multiculturism and this is something I try to champion.

What kind of volunteering do you do?

A lot of my volunteering work was done at the Shah Jalal Mosque in Blacon which is in the outskirts of Chester city centre. The Mosque takes up a lot of land with many areas left unattended which has allowed weeds to grow. To put things simply, the work I have done has transformed the unattended backyard of the Mosque into an aromatic and medicinal herbs garden.

The Bricks Herbs Garden project started with just two volunteers but numbers have swelled thanks to students and members of the local community getting involved. Currently, we plant various Asian herbs such as turmeric, ginger, coriander and others. The volunteering activity is conducted weekly or when there is free time with the help of the local Muslim community. During volunteering, those involved can learn about growing, tending, harvesting and selling the herbs back to the community/local shops.

What is the highlight of volunteering?

The project promotes a healthy lifestyle and gives people the chance to build a whole host of interpersonal skills and it's great to see volunteers develop themselves. It was really rewarding to see the Mosque’s landscape undergo a transformation. I am also proud that local children can visit and learn about various herbs. Bringing the community closer together has also been a big positive.

How did you feel receiving the Kirsty Craig Associates Award?

I am honoured to receive the award- it makes me so proud. I want to thank the University of Chester, Chevening Scholarship Programme (Foreign Commonwealth Office), the Royal Malaysian Navy and my family for their support.

How has volunteering enhanced your University experience?

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to develop my social skills. Doing volunteer work can also counteract the effects of stress because it’s relaxing, energizing and an escape from reading, exams and assignments.

What would be your message to other international students in regards to volunteering?

I strongly advise students to volunteer as it’s so much fun. The experience is a great way to learn more about yourself and your potential. Every time I volunteer, I learn something new.

To get involved with Khairol’s project you can email him on knm.3019@gmail.com

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