Making a Difference at Uni
I’ve tried to spend my time at Uni trying lots of different things. But one thing that I’ve consistently tried to do is some sort of volunteering, fundraising or activism activity. I’ve taken part in KidzCamp and Bake It Up! with Warwick Volunteers, volunteered as a Guide and a Scout leader with local groups and joined Warwick RAG to help fundraise for a wide range of charities. I’ve also recently started volunteering with What Can We Do?.
The point is … if you want to make a difference whilst at Uni: you can!
Hopefully this post will outline some interesting ways that you can get involved, help others and make a difference alongside your degree. I would by no means expect any one person to take part in all these opportunities at the same time. Nor would I want you to feel pressured to take part in any of them. Making a difference and helping others comes in many forms. But it should always be approached with an inner sense of motivation (some voice inside that gets you going, rather than people telling you to do something).
So, how can you make a difference?
“Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service.” (Wikipedia)
Volunteering can be great fun and covers almost any activity you can imagine. I’ve done a lot of volunteering with young people in schools which has been really rewarding! But volunteering can be anything, anywhere, with anyone. Check out all the opportunities here.
Another volunteering opportunity whilst at Uni is to help with Guides and Scouts. Time spent helping at Guides and Scouts can be logged with Warwick Volunteers (which can earn you a certificate) but is organised externally. Volunteering with Guides and Scouts is great fun and can see you taking part in a range of activities from craft to crazy adventures. If you’re interested, check out the Girlguiding and Scouts UK website and feel free to get in touch (I’d be happy to help you get involved or just talk more about the opportunities)!
Warwick RAG is one of the biggest societies on campus and is focused on raising money for some amazing charities. From their challenges program where you raise money and then take on an incredible challenge (known as incentivised fundraising), to bucket collections (raids) and events – there’s always something going on.
The best way to get involved with RAG is to sign up to a challenge or go to one of their events. Keep up to date with what they’re doing by following them on social media!
If you want something a little different, there are many other societies you could join. I won’t list them here because I don’t have much experience with them, but check out the SU website to explore the different opportunities there are for making a difference.
And most societies have fundraising/volunteering opportunities alongside their main activities so do get involved in those as well!
What Can We Do?
For the most part, the desire to make a difference or to help others emerges from the single question: what can we do?
A child of COVID-19, borne out of a Google Doc, What Can We Do? (WCWD) is a social enterprise dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to make a difference in society, no matter who they are, where they are, or how much time or money they have. It’s the go-to place to understand the issues facing the UK, and find out how you can help.
We all have the power within us to make change – it doesn’t have to be grand Greta Thunberg-esque discussions with Trump or huge global protests, it can simply be the signing of a petition that gets an issue discussed in parliament. It can be a simple sustainable swap that helps the environment. It can be a conversation that keeps someone from feeling lonely. Or it can be a donation that funds life saving research.
I joined WCWD over the summer as a volunteer, to lead on the website development. Working remotely with a team of passionate women based across the world, I supported the website migration and developed the website for desktop and mobile use. I ensure that the user experience is as intuitive and seamless as possible, allowing users to quickly filter for preferences, based on their time or topic of interest. You can even see what you can do with as little as three minutes! Every time you search you are accessing our huge database of actions, campaigns, petitions and donation funds. We make sure all additions to the database are carefully vetted according to our key values, contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that there is transparency and accountability regarding funding and leadership.
So if you feel like the other ideas in this post would take too much time or commitment, why not start with What Can We Do? ?
Make a Difference Your Way
Hopefully those 4 suggestions have given you something to think about.
Explore the opportunities available to you, both online and on campus. Try things out. You don’t have to pick something and then be locked in for life. However much time and energy you have to give will be appreciated. And the more passionate and engaged you are with the cause(s) you’re supporting, the more of a difference you can make.
Uni is a time to explore, learn and grow as a person. So follow your passions and see how you go on to make a difference.