There is no question that Covid-19 has turned the whole world upside down, but in a time of crisis, there has been one light that has shined throughout the pandemic, and that is our country’s revitalized concept of community.
The response to Covid-19 has proven how great the contributions of communities have on public health, and something the pandemic has also shown me, is that helping others can also benefit myself greatly. By doing small deeds like shopping for others and checking in on my loved ones, I have experienced a greater sense of purpose and belonging – and I have found that by helping and caring for others, I have felt healthier, happier, and more able to cope with the challenges life has thrown at me.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members” – Coretta Scott King
Are you a student who is looking to expand your CV, gain new skills, and meet new people? Or are you someone who has been inspired by your community’s response to Covid-19, and would like to contribute to the local Bangor community whilst you are a student? If so, I truly believe that volunteering can lead you to a whole world of opportunities and experiences, and it’s something I’d really recommend you get involved in while studying in Bangor.
To find out more about how students can get involved with volunteering in Bangor, I spoke to Katie Tew, Vice-President for Societies and Volunteering at Undeb Bangor (Bangor Student’s Union)…
What is SVB and how many projects are there?
SVB stands for Student Volunteering Bangor and it is the volunteering branch of Undeb Bangor. We have over 50 mental health, children’s, elderly, community, sports, environmental and fundraising projects for students to get involved in. SVB is unique to Undeb Bangor, because our projects are student led. At the moment some of our projects are unable to run due to Covid-19 but we are looking at ways to adapt the projects to run online.
What is your experience of volunteering in Bangor?
During my time as a student at Bangor, I was the Chair of Raising and Giving (RAG), which I loved because I was able to work with so many different student groups. It really was amazing to see all of our Athletic Union Clubs come together for events like Movember to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and male suicide. One of my highlights was attending Tŷ Gobaith to meet some of the children, to see how our fundraising helped them. Tŷ Gobaith cares for babies, children, young people and young adults up to the age of 25 years who have life-threatening conditions and they also offer counselling and bereavement support to any family living in our area who has suffered the death of a child in any circumstance.
RAG organises so many different events, it’s hard to pick a favourite! I absolutely loved Canine Calming – which is a day spent de-stressing with some adorable dogs, while raising money for a fantastic cause; what’s not to love? RAG also organised Runderpants which is a one mile fun-run, where everyone wears underpants and it’s always a special day! There are so many more events including the Christmas Ball, First Dates and, of course, our challenges, so there really is something for everyone to get involved with.
Of course, things will be slightly different this year, but I’m really looking forward to working with the new RAG team for planning lots of virtual fundraisers.
How will SVB be different/impacted by Covid-19?
Many of our projects work with vulnerable people so our Project Leaders have adapted many of our opportunities to be online for now. For example, our elderly projects will be writing letters to keep in contact with our service users and our children’s projects will be doing online sessions instead. For our environmental projects, students will have to pre-book to limit numbers and the Project Leaders will ensure that the appropriate precautions are in place, like cleaning the equipment between each person.
Many of our projects have continued through the summer, including the ELCOS Buddy project which is aimed at providing English language learners the opportunity to informally chat with a native speaker on a regular basis, to develop their own English language capabilities outside of the classroom. Additionally, Connect@Bangor have been running online Mental Health Drop-In Sessions with the University’s Mental Health Advisors online every Wednesday, and Hungry Dragon has also been running online quizzes and cookery sessions.
This year we will have to be adaptable and I am so proud as to how all of the Project Leaders have taken on this challenge and altered their projects during these strange times. More than ever we need to support each other and our volunteers’ response to Covid-19 shows how important SVB is to our community and how much our service users appreciate the work of our volunteers.
What volunteering vacancies are there currently for new Bangor students?
What advice do you have for any student interested in getting involved with volunteering and what are the benefits of volunteering with SVB?
Being involved with SVB is a great community, and a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Being involved with SVB has really improved my confidence and it has developed my leadership skills, giving me confidence to run for the Sabbatical Officer role. It also looks amazing on your CV and gives you practical experience that will help you develop many skills. You will also receive BEA points for volunteering at any of our projects which goes towards the Bangor Employability Award. Everyone really is so friendly, and there is an opportunity for everyone to get involved with. It is also a great opportunity to get to work with lots of different people from a variety of age groups and the projects really do make a massive difference to so many of our service users’ lives.
If you’d like to get involved with SVB, or have any questions please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org