18th May 2016
Students from York College, Askham Bryan College, the University of York and York St John University came together at the Higher York Student Volunteering Awards 2016, held at the National Centre for Early Music. The students received awards for their commitment and dedication to voluntary work in the local area.
York’s Civic Party, along with representatives from local voluntary organisations and York’s universities and colleges, joined them for their celebrations. Radio York’s Elly Fiorentini acted as compere for the proceedings.
The voluntary work that hundreds of students in York take up alongside their studies has a huge impact on the local community. Last year student volunteers gave at least 75,000 hours of their time, equating to over £500,000 if they were paid the minimum wage.
The award winners have contributed to a wide range of voluntary projects and have worked with all ages of the community, from babies and toddlers in York’s Children’s Centres, to more elderly residents in local care homes. A number of awards were also being given to student support and welfare initiatives such as the ‘Mind Your Head’ mental health campaign, which was devised by a group of graduate students at the University of York.
Photographs: Peter Byrne
Rachel Adam-Smith, who studies Access to Social Science at York College, was presented with a Higher York Volunteering Award. Rachel volunteers with the Leeds Teaching Hospital disability team. She said: “Having a disabled daughter myself, I was frustrated by the lack of thought for those who are unable to communicate or have special needs. My volunteering has enabled me to get involved with medical professionals who are trying to make improvements to communication systems. I have also organised Makaton Foundation courses and taster sessions around Boston Spa and Wetherby to encourage more people to use sign to enable those with disabilities to be more included within the local community.”
The value of the contribution made by student volunteers like student Peter Lawrence, who studies the Foundation Degree in Community & Public Services at York College, was summed up by Jen Cammidge of Amarna House Nursing Home, commenting: “Peter initially volunteered in the memory care units, working closely with residents and helping to run activity sessions. He is now a valued member of staff - having proved himself to be the perfect fit for this kind of work. His presence in the home benefits us all. He willingly sits holding the hand of the most frightened resident and the next minute he is chatting and laughing with ‘the boys’. Male care staff/volunteers are generally very rare and it makes such a difference for residents, especially the men, to have another male ‘on board’. Lady residents love his empathy and bear hugs and staff appreciate his willingness, confidence and cheeky demeanour – he is what all volunteers should be and luckily we get to keep him!”