MAKE VOLUNTEERING PART OF STUDENT LIFE

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 Nearly one in three students would consider gifting their time to support the NHS
 Five reasons to volunteer while you study

As thousands of young people open their A level results today, a charity is calling for those intending to continue with their education to consider giving the gift of voluntary service while they study.

National volunteering organisation, Royal Voluntary Service is keen to welcome more students into its own volunteer family, but also wants to encourage young people to think about making volunteering, more generally, a part of student life.

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In particular, Royal Voluntary Service wants to inspire more students to volunteer to support the NHS and help relieve some of the pressure it faces.  The organisation believes volunteers can play a vital role in the NHS – improving patient experience and allowing staff more time to care.

Positively, recent research conducted by YouGov for Royal Voluntary Service (1) found a desire amongst students to do their bit for the NHS. Almost a third (32%) of full time students questioned in the poll said they would consider volunteering to support the NHS in the future.

Royal Voluntary Service volunteers support the NHS in a number of ways. This includes providing support and companionship on-ward to older patients; helping older people just out of hospital to settle back in to home life and serving patients, NHS staff and visitors in one of the charity’s many hospital shops, cafes and trolleys.   There are various roles available, offering flexibility to work with the student’s timetable.

Royal Voluntary Service counts hundreds of volunteers who juggle volunteering with studying.

Laura Wightman, 20 and from Leicester is studying Forensic Science at Leicester University and will soon go into to her third year. She has been volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service’s Home from Hospital service in Leicester since February 2018 providing support to 78 year old Joyce, who had been in hospital after a fall. Laura says: “I joined Royal Voluntary Service while at University and realised I was at a time in my life when I had more free time than I would always have.  The first thing that struck me about Joyce was her isolation; she is the only person I know who is without the support of family. She doesn’t have any relatives, so aside from a friend she has from her housing complex, she really has very little contact with people. Volunteering with Joyce takes very little time out of my life, and it’s a lovely feeling to know you are helping to look after someone who is more vulnerable than yourself.  I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to do the same.”

Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “We know your studies come first, but by volunteering just a couple of hours a week or a month, you can make a significant difference. Whether it’s for us or another organisation, we’d love you to use any spare time you have to volunteer to help others in your community.  Over the next decade, I want everyone in Britain to recognise the value of the gift of their time and the immense difference this can make to both them as individuals and our society. In the NHS for instance, we and others can do so much more through the gift of voluntary service, supporting the NHS to have more time to care.”

 Five reasons to volunteer while you study

  • Get work experience and learn new skills
  • Meet new people and expand your social horizons
  • It’s good for you! Research by Professor James Nazroo found those who volunteer are healthier and happier than their counterparts that don’t
  • Make a tangible and positive difference to someone’s life
  • Get a break from your studies by doing something worthwhile.

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 20,000 volunteers supporting thousands of people each month in hospitals and in the community.  The simple acts of kindness our volunteers provide, whether popping in for tea and a chat, helping out with a lift to a GP or social appointment or running chair-based exercises on ward to prevent pyjama paralysis, help make communities stronger and relieve the pressure on overstretched public services. The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals.

You can find information about volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service by visiting www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or calling us on0845 608 0122. For details of other volunteering opportunities you could contact your Student Union or nearest hospital.

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