STUDENT IMPACT AWARDS A TRIUMPH!
Celebrating success in community volunteering, widening participation and professional mentoring.
Listen to Maryam Lamere, Volunteering England Leadership Gold Award winner talking about what it meant for her.
The first ever Student Impact Awards, held last week by City’s Widening Participation and Community Engagement (WPCE) Team to recognise achievement in volunteering, widening participation, and professional mentoring over the past year, was a great success.
The award ceremony, held in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, was attended by over 120 City students, staff, members of Council, plus external guests and mentors, including UBS’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Nick Wright, who talked about how volunteering can improve future employability.
The WPCE Team, based in the Centre for Career and Skills Development, delivers a variety of projects in the community, whilst supporting City students by developing their skills for future employment.
“The Student Impact Awards night was a wonderful evening celebrating the hard work and achievements of so many students, staff, mentors and volunteers. It was really inspirational to hear their stories and to be able to share them with the wider university.”
Sarah Corley, Widening Participation and Community Engagement Coordinator
There are currently over 170 Widening Participation Ambassadors at City, seven of whom won awards for their hard work, including Ambassador of the Year, Preeti Das, a third year journalism student.
The award for Outstanding Contribution to Widening Participation and Community Engagement was won by David Styles, Lecturer in Electrical Engineering. He has worked at City for over thirty years and is a tireless champion of Widening Participation, getting involved in activities including Summer Schools, Engineering Taster Days and Careers Fairs.
The team helps support staff and students get involved in volunteering, and Ben Butler, Community Volunteering Officer, was pleased to hand out Volunteering England Gold Awards in Dedication, Leadership and Achievement.
Also celebrated was the Professional Mentoring Scheme which this year paired 66 City students with mentors from the world of work. Co-ordinator Thalia Anagnostopoulou handed out six awards in this category.
More pictures on our Gallery page
BUDDY SCHEME CELEBRATION
By Sonila Reka
Students of City University London gathered together on Wednesday 24th February to celebrate the success of the Buddy Scheme.
Over 30 students came to the event and were proud to be a part of the Scheme. The idea behind the scheme is that first year Law and Cass students would get together with second year or third year students who volunteered to be buddies. If the new students had any problems or concerns about anything they could ask their buddies.
The scheme also aimed to help first year students settle in quickly and give international students a better understanding of the British culture. Also the scheme aspires to makethe students feel welcome and not isolated on arrival.
Androulla Skapoullis, third year, Law student, 21, said: “When I was a first year student, this scheme did not exist. When I needed help about my work or books I needed to read I did not know who to turn “Now, the Buddy Scheme allows newcomers to find someone they can ask for help at difficult times. This also gives them the opportunity to meet older students who are doing the same course as they are.”
In thanking his Buddies, Agata and Alan, Andrea Falletti from Cass said “I have greatly appreciated your support. You have been extremely kind to me, understanding my doubts and anxieties as first year student. I have had the opportunity to ask you all those things I wouldn't have dared to ask a professors and you've given me invaluable tips and suggestions on how to best approach exams, coursework and more generally life as university student.”
The Scheme is a collaborative project between the Students’ Union, Cherry Douglas and Emilie Helsen and the Centre for Career and Skills Development Community Volunteering team, Ben Butler. Previous SU President, Gaurav Kalia initiated the project.
This year was the first year that the Buddy Scheme has been centrally run in this way. Cherry Douglas said: “The University is sometimes like a big machine and the wheels can turn slowly. Many initiatives start small and then develop. We are hoping to gradually scale the project up in a manageable way”.
There is always a risk that universities may lose the students who feel they cannot cope with the amount of work given at university and the change in culture during the first year. The Buddy Scheme may prevent this from happening in some cases.
Lorraine Viala, first year management student from France, said: “My Buddy always gave me good advice about academic and non-academic stuff. Having a buddy to ask for support on university work, London and many other things, always meant that I spent less time to get to one point than I may have done if the Buddy Scheme did not exist.”
Due to the kind financial support of Cass and the School of Law, it was possible to award the buddies for their hard work with book tokens and certificates. The first year students thanked their buddies for their support throughout the first term.
Emma Furniss, Business student, said: “I want to thank my Buddy who was always friendly and committed, he always gave me the feeling that I was going the right way.”
It is not only the first year students who benefit from the scheme but the students who volunteer to be buddies gain much from the scheme. Firstly, through the scheme the buddies are able to show off their transferable skills, such as, their leadership skills, communication skills and team skills. Most importantly they are able to promote the skills they have developed in the Buddy Scheme on their curriculum vitae, which will increase their employability.
The current President of City University Students’ Union, Nikhil Raj Cumlajee , said: “From the ceremony and talking to some of the buddies they all found it was an invaluable experience. Some used it more than others but everyone had positive things to say. Now the true test will be in how we implement it for the next academic year.”
Currently the scheme is only available for Cass and Law students. Ben Butler said: “We want to try and make it open to everybody, and we are hoping that we will get the financial support to do this in the years to come.”
CITY VOLUNTEERING FAIR
By Lalah Simone-Springer
The City Volunteering Fair on the 18th November 2009 was a great success, offering students and staff an opportunity to try something new.
Jade Scott, 18, a journalism student said: “You know, I wasn’t sure about coming to the fair at first, but there were so many things I wanted to do that I’m really glad I came!”
Volunteering is generally about giving, but there were plenty of organisations which give back to the volunteer!
St. Luke’s Timebank allows volunteers to use their skills to help people from across Islington. If someone needed a lesson in Spanish, with Timebank they can easily be helped by a Spanish native who lives nearby. If the person who gives the lesson would love to learn flower arranging, the time they’ve earned through teaching Spanish could go towards that!
Elevation Networks Trust was another charity at the fair. They are a student led charity which holds events with everyone from the BBC to the bank HSBC, where students can hear a speech, then get a chance to hand out cards, or perhaps meet and greet high ranking people in the organisations.
Nelson Adeosun, a spokesperson for Elevation Networks said: “We’ve had so many success stories! One guy attributes his success, and his job with Zurich to us! He has a £42,000 starting salary – and that’s without the bonus.”
From something as quickly gratifying as cleaning up the capital’s waterways with the Thames 21 Waterway Champions to something as long term emotionally gratifying as counselling with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) or even teaching kindergarten in Fiji, there was something for everyone at the fair.
Volunteering is a way to be heard. As Orange Rockcorps spokesperson Safia Noor said: “We just want to show that young people can do positive things!”
List of organisations involved: Arsenal Football Club, Age Wisdom, B2B Somali Arts & Education, British Red Cross, The Children’s Society, Chinese Mental Health Association, Developing Technologies, Elevation Networks Trust, The Food Chain, Hertfordshire Police, Independent Monitoring Boards, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Orange Rockcorps, Projects Abroad, ReachOut!, Right to Play, RNIB, Roundhouse, RSPB, St. Luke’s Timebank, St. Luke’s Community Centre, Thames 21.
FROM SCHOOL TO UNIVERSITY
By Kirsten Jones
Student volunteers from City University London were given the opportunity last Thursday 5th November, to meet and greet year 6 pupils from St. Luke’s Church of England Primary School, and take part in their new journalism project.
The well established school, just a short walk from the university, played host to half of the day’s activity.
Our volunteers were given a warm welcome from the year group, described as a “great cohort” by their deputy head, Cassie Ross.
The main organiser of the event Harriet Goodman explained the inspiration of the project. “My role as Lifetime Opportunities Manager involves opening as many doors as possible for the children to give them the best futures.”
In addition to organising this event, Harriet coordinates after school hours programmes with both students and parents, and community links. “Exposure to the surrounding community is essential for the pupils. It gives them aspirations. A ‘Learning For Life vision’, as we like to call it.”
The event itself was organised in conjunction with the Community Service Volunteers (CSV) ’Make a Difference Day’, making the project all the more important for both pupils and student volunteers.
Upon arrival into the school, our volunteers were split into two groups. Half were given a tour, and half were partnered with pupils and shown their portfolios regarding their school achievements. In addition to this, to aid their project, the pupils were supplied with camcorders and recorded each others experiences and opinions of school.
The pupils were then walked to City, with a few historic facts along the way! Harriet Goodman acted as tour guide, informing both pupils and volunteers about the history of St. Luke’s school, and its importance to the community. The school is recognised as one of the first schools in the whole country to open up to all children no matter how rich or poor.
The remainder of the day involved a tour of City s Journalism department, and the excitement on the children’s faces was unmissable!
The pupils were led in groups to the radio rooms and others to a classroom to interview the student volunteers about their experiences of life through school.
The day as a whole was valuable for both pupils and volunteers, both looking into the past and raising aspirations for the future.
CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD
By Kate-Lily De Graft-Johnson
Ben Butler, Community Volunteering Projects Officer, has received an award for customer service.
Two departments in the university - Property and Facilities and Services for Students - joined the Institute of Customer Service. The awards were created as a part of National Customer Service Week (5th - 11th October 2009) to recognise staff members who provide excellent customer service. It is also a chance to highlight the improvements that have been made to services over the past 12 months.
Ben was nominated alongside three fellow staff members. His popularity far exceeded voting expectations and on 11th October 2009 was rewarded with the National Customer Service Award. “Ben’s commitment to customer service takes him to new levels”, said an enthusiastic colleague. “He is constantly working on new initiatives such as the Buddy Scheme to make life on the campus easier for students. His approach improves service by educating our students, making them more understanding customers.”
Ben and Matthew Shipton both received an Institute of Customer Services award and a bottle of champagne while the runners up, Nandiha Gopal and Amanda Clements, each received a box of Thornton’s chocolates. The awards were presented by Henrietta Royle who congratulated them all for providing great customer service to students and colleagues within the University
Congratulations Ben, keep making us proud.
BULB PRESENTATION AT LOCAL COMMUNITY CENTRE
By Kirsten Jones
St Luke’s Community Centre played host to a range of activities on Thursday 1st October, to mark the celebration of ‘International Older People’s Day’ within the Islington community.
Three days prior to this event, passing students at City University London planted bulbs with messages attached for local older people. As part of the experience, a group of student volunteers gathered at the International Older People's Day event to present the bulbs to the attending party.
Upon arrival in the afternoon we were welcomed by a huge cohort of volunteers from the council and surrounding area, enjoying the glorious day with the locals and enhancing the buzzing atmosphere.
In addition to the streams of volunteers, we were also met by individuals from other organisations. Kate Coutts, the scheme manager of the High Rise Road Sheltered Accommodation had also attended the event with high hopes of inspiration and assistance with her own project.
The bulbs were received from our volunteers with open arms and we clearly played a part in brightening the day for the local residents. This event was the first of its kind, organised by the council for the elderly in the Islington area. The community centre itself was originally created to cater for over-55s. However in recent years it has become a highlighted venue for a whole range of activities, such as the subsidised lunch health programme for disadvantaged individuals.
“There is a great social importance to events like these at St Luke’s.” Heather, the Gardening Project manager stressed, “It lets the elderly know that they are not alone.”
“This centre is vital for the elderly community. There are many people who come on such a regular basis that they have their own tables! Besides, for some the subsidised lunch may be their only meal of the day.”
For every volunteer, the motivation behind helping on the project was ‘giving something back to the community’.
The attending party was expected to reach around 250. However, the organisers estimated this had almost doubled due to its popularity!
Overall, the bulb presentation was a huge success and it also highlighted how valuable volunteer work is, and the diverse skills that are acquired and developed through it.
CITY KARTING AWARDS CEREMONY
By Chantelle O’Connor
On the 17th December 2008, local youngsters took apart and rebuilt Pro Go-Karts with the help of staff and students at City University and were rewarded with medals and certificates for their hard work and dedication.
For this project to be able to continue in the coming years, City University are appealing for undergraduate students in engineering and mechanics to volunteer five to eight hours a week to the project. Sean Canty, an undergraduate engineering student at City University, says “Possible candidates must have good interpersonal skills and managing potential and of course it is a great opportunity to get more out of their engineering degree.” The City Karting project runs from October to December and began in 2004 when a partnership between the EC1 Young Engineers Challenge and EC1 New Deal for Communities was struck-up, with the support of the Metropolitan Police.
Sarah Corley, Widening Participation and Community Engagement Coordinator, began working with the programme in 2008. Hosting the award ceremony, she spoke of how she had had a fantastic opportunity to really to get to know these young people and how it had proved very rewarding for her and other staff. At the heart of the programme is the intention to bring young people in the the local area together and open their eyes to possible higher education opportunities and future learning/training such as scholarships, apprenticeships and university. With regular monitoring of attendance and one on one careers advice, the scheme has proved to be invaluable experience for students, staff and most importantly participants.
The chance to go to university and forge a career is something many of us take for granted. But the project highlights that not all young people have these opportunities and the schemes aims to encourage as many young people as possible to reach their potential.. The feeling of accomplishment when they race their Go-Kart at the end of the 12 weeks encourages them to look for apprenticeships, scholarships or apply for a university course as part of their future.
Over the 12 weeks the young people attend highly interactive mini-lectures on various topics related to karts and mechanics. The hands-on experience is essential to the programme’s popularity as the young people learn how to apply principles from maths and science to their kart to make sure it is successful on the track. Throughout the 12 weeks, the teenagers have to learn to work in a team and are a very strong group of friends by the end of it.
Project Deliverer Matt Chester, a City PhD student, became involved in the unique project as an undergraduate at City University, and has travelled down from Leeds each week to deliver this year’s project: “Now I’m responsible for all the engineering content. The project has given me so many personal skills - it is awesome!”