Volunteering is a great way to enhance your time at university, gain new skills, and get involved in the community.
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Volunteering is when you spend unpaid time doing something with the aim of helping individuals or groups who are not related to you, or to benefit the environment.
Why you should volunteer
As well as making a positive impact on those you help, volunteering can improve your wellbeing, expand your network and help you develop skills that help to enhance your CV.
Volunteering opportunities are flexible in nature so you can fit them around your studies.
Roles include anything from mentoring young people to befriending the elderly, managing a charity’s social media account to guiding tours around museums. There will be a volunteering role to match your motivation, passion and goals.
Professional Benefits of Volunteering
- Good route into working in the Third/Voluntary Sector
- Try out sectors of employment before you pursue careers in them
- Build your networks
- Build up a portfolio of creative work, for example web design, social media management
- Looks great on CVs and application forms
- Shows that you are motivated by more than just a salary
- Community Volunteering can be recognised on your HEAR
- Hours spent volunteering can count towards the 40 hours of co-curricular activities needed to complete the Gold Award
- You could also find yourself nominated for the Goldsmiths Community Volunteering Award
What people say
Gill Jarman, one of the directors of CEN8, a Community Interest Company based on campus
“CEN8 benefits hugely by having students volunteer for us – they not only help us to run a variety of innovative projects but also ensure that our ‘behind the scenes’ workings such as marketing and social media are kept fresh and that our reach grows even wider.
"All our volunteers bring commitment, energy and a dedication to both share with and give back to others from our diverse community here in South East London.”
Sam Hawksley, Development Lead at Lewisham Local
“Student volunteers bring a fresh perspective and a range of different skills that can help us develop. Their passion and enthusiasm can help generate new ideas and give our projects and ideas a new lease of life. We have had over 15 different volunteers from Goldsmiths doing a range of different roles.”
Lewisham Local is a charity who encourages Lewisham people, businesses and organisations to give, to connect and be inspired through initiative and events.
Darja, a third-year Arts Management student, volunteered at Russian Film Week
“Volunteering at Russian Film Week was the best volunteering experience of my life. The experience helped me go beyond my comfort zone. I had lacked confidence when it came to approaching new people and clearly expressing myself but working with artists, guests and staff members I learned how to improve my communication style which increased my confidence. I also strengthened my team working skills and learned to be adaptable and flexible to different situations.”
“Volunteering can not only enhance your skills but also open a door of possibilities. I met talented creatives with whom I continue to work and collaborate with on a regular basis, and I was also lucky enough to meet the actor Alexander Petrov. I would advise everyone to volunteer for a cause you are passionate because you are more likely to apply the same effort as if you were earning a salary this way you get so much more out of the experience.”
Antoinette, an English and Comparative Literature student, volunteered at Mary’s Living and Giving Charity Shop
“Volunteering helped me develop many skills, including time management, memory recall, decision making, and handling responsibility. It not only enabled me to meet new people, but allowed me to join in community-wide events. This grew my confidence and encouraged me to be more proactive in my neighbourhood. As a result, I started volunteering with another organisation which led to being offered and securing a part-time job.”
“The experience also shaped my post-graduate plans - initially I wanted to go straight into a master’s degree, but I now want to pursue further volunteer work before continuing with higher education. Overall, volunteering changed my outlook for the future and has enabled me to explore opportunities outside of academia.”
Jeffrey, studying MA Applied Theatre, found the perfect volunteering opportunity with Heart N Soul
“I choose to volunteer because in my years of doing so, it has led to new artistic projects, a sense of community and, in some cases, employment. In studying my MA in Applied Theatre away from my home country, I wanted a volunteer experience that would enhance my studies as well as give me an opportunity to expand my connections beyond Goldsmiths. It would also give me a chance to explore the workings of a UK-based not-for-profit organisation and potentially make some friends in a new city.”
“I also knew that I wanted to find an organisation that engaged with community art and worked with people whose lives include learning disabilities. Heart N Soul was perfect for me as they work with people with learning disabilities and they hold a wide scope of productions, from theatre, to day programs, to choirs, to an annual Beautiful Octopus Club which invites over 3,000 people each year. Volunteering there was an amazing experience and gave me something to be excited about every week as I built relationships there which ultimately made me feel more rooted in the Heart N Soul community.”
Where you can volunteer
Here are some organisations Goldsmiths’ students have volunteered for over the last academic year, and some which are local to Goldsmiths.
- Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL)
- Lewisham Multilingual Advice Services (LMAS)
- Lewisham Local
- Voluntary Action Lewisham
Arts and Culture
- CoolTan Arts
- Dulwich Picture Gallery
- Entelechy Arts
- Greenwich Heritage Trust
- Horniman Museum and Gardens
- Royal Museums Greenwich
- Future Frontiers
- Into University
- Team Up
- Heart and Soul (arts and mental health)
- Lewisham Speaking Up
- South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM)