A little insight into the world of Volunteer SU from the eyes of our amazing interns:
Phoebe here again from Volunteer SU, just dropping in to say hello (and Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Feliz Navidad) and to tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to since starting as Volunteer SU Intern.
Firstly - What. A. Semester.
This hasn’t been a normal semester in any sense of the word, if anything it is perhaps the complete opposite of that.
As a result of this, I’ve been mostly kept busy learning the ropes of all the goings on here at Volunteer SU and adapting to an online focus - learning all about the fantastic organisations students are able to partner with.
I’ve been keeping up to date with changing guidelines and best practices for volunteers through online training sessions, learning all about the best ways to keep volunteers safe and connected during COVID; all about volunteering and the law, to make sure your generosity isn’t being taken advantage of and the best ways to create online engagement for volunteers in organisations! These sessions were a great way to learn what other voluntary organisations are doing to keep volunteers like you, safe and well at the moment.
Also, I’ve been sending you all emails, helping to compose our monthly newsletter and creating social media content! (Not to mention self-isolating for two weeks…)
In November I had the chance to get out with the Handy Helpers and get involved in 3 fantastic projects. Firstly, we went to help sort gifts with Mission Christmas making sure that no children would wake up without gifts on Christmas day! Not only was it great to see first-hand the amazing charities and projects the Handy Helpers support but I loved being able to see other students again and have a chat! It felt almost normal!
Next up was bird box building and invasive ivy clearing from a tree nursery in South Belfast! This was a fab opportunity to get outside and involved in the local area with other students, and demonstrate my excellent carpentry skills…naturally.
Finally, I got to get involved with the Great Autumn Clean Up with QUB students and staff– helping to clear up the local QUB area and meet some lovely local residents in the process.
I loved getting out with all amazing student volunteers who took part and received some great feedback. It was so obvious to me that students, myself included, had been missing (socially distant) human connection! Just getting to have a chat put me in a great mood, and that was before the volunteering activity had even begun!! Several students spoke about how they found Handy Helpers a great way to meet people both QUB students and local Belfast residents alike and over the course of a few different sessions it was fab to see friendships emerging. Honestly, after the stress of the year and the challenges online classes bring, me and the students involved seemed to appreciate volunteering activities that little bit more!
Meeting the residents of Sans Souci park was a great way to see first-hand the impact that Handy Helpers can make. The local residents were so welcoming and appreciated all our volunteers’ efforts, noting how their help was essential in running their local tree nursery- 10 pairs of hands definitely help to make light work! Craic was had by locals and student volunteers alike- and right now, what more can you ask for?!
You might have seen some of my social media content this semester including some interviews with students and glimpses into what volunteering events are really like - be warned there is more of this to come in semester 2…
Until then, have a great winter break and a mince pie - after all this, you deserve it.
Meet the team!
Hi everyone I'm Phoebe, I'm a final year History and Politics student and I'm also the Volunteer SU intern this year!
I'm so happy to be working in Volunteer SU! Over the past couple of years I've been involved in a few volunteering projects myself, at a food bank, within a care home and helping at Anthony Nolan events, and have seen first hand the positive impact volunteering can have for everyone involved! This was my main reason for applying and I'm determined to help get people out and involved in the local community!
Although this year is a little different, I'm looking forward to seeing how the QUB volunteering community can adapt to help those in need, as now more than ever we can make a real difference in people's lives through our actions
Fun fact about me: Over lockdown I learnt how to sew and have since made several cushions, bags and (surprise, surprise) face masks!
New year, new me, or so they say. Yes, it’s Bebhinn, back with another blog post. I’ve resolved to stress less, to cut down on my beloved biscuits and to maybe even provide my own teabags at last… (okay, only joking about that one!)
In Volunteer SU news, we haven’t wasted any time in 2020!
We kicked off the New Year on 9th January with a Women in Leadership masterclass, which I attended at Allen&Overy along with 20 other female volunteers. Learning about becoming a leader, analysing our role models, working on understanding personal values and hearing everyone’s exciting plans for the future was inspirational, and put me in the perfect mindset for starting Semester 2.
Can you spot my awesome jacket?
Then it was time to get out of the office and come face to face with you lovely lot as we handed out leaflets across campus. You may have spotted me in the Treehouse, the Computer Science Building or the David Kier Building, trying to encourage as many of you as possible to get volunteering with Handy Helpers and Homework Clubs, or to apply for our Inspiring Leaders Programme (which I’ll be taking part in later this month!)
On the subject of our Handy Helpers, they’ve also not stopped, collecting unwanted Christmas gifts and attending sustainability and first aid training workshops in the first few weeks of the semester. Handy Helpers is such a flexible scheme that enables students to get involved with a wide range of activities at times that suit them, and I’d definitely recommend getting involved.
Finally, on 29th January we trained our second cohort of Homework Clubs volunteers – and I even gave a talk about my own Homework Clubs experience to the 58 new recruits! I’m sure they’ll soon get stuck into volunteering at clubs across Belfast.
Learning top tutoring tips
That’s all for now, but I can’t wait to see what the rest of the term will bring!
Being a Volunteer SU intern
You have hopefully read Bebhinn’s Blog post and now it’s time for mine.
I’m Michael, the other intern for Volunteer SU, and my life seems very different from Bebhinn’s. Repping the STEM subjects, I’m a second year Mechanical Engineer, school rep too, and I provide the tea bags which are
stolen so graciously appreciated. I spend a lot of the time in the SU, so you might see me at some point queueing for a meal deal during my lunch break.
We really got thrown into the deep end as new interns, manning the Freshers’ Fair stall and encouraging loads of new signups – which I think we did amazingly, with over 100 new people following us on Instagram now!
The leaders enjoying a presentation from our Inspiring Leaders cohort
I tend to spend most of my time working on the Inspiring Leaders programme. If you signed up it, you’ll have received at least 1 email from me, if not a fair few more. I get to see all the applications that come in, and have a helping hand in deciding who to allocate where. The first inspiring leaders programme ran with huge success! Our outstanding student volunteers had the chance to meet leaders from all walks of life and learn how to apply themselves to be the best leader they can.
We do so much work with so many different groups of people, but perhaps one of my favourite mornings is when the dogs from Cavaliers In Need come in – I can justify taking a 5 minute break to “check on the dogs”, which means I can get a quick cuddle before returning to my desk, a great stress reliever. The dogs of course bring in large crowds and help to raise some funds for the rescuing and rehabilitation of Cavaliers and other pups – if you missed them you can catch them next time they’re at the SU around Valentine’s Day!
This month has been a busy one, with a huge range of events, from the Handy Helpers Christmas Party, to students helping launch the Lennoxvale Tree Nursery, all the way to litter picking in the Holylands, there’s been so much for our volunteers to get stuck into! And there’s even more to come, with our Inspiring Leaders applications open for Semester 2, the Women in Leadership Masterclass, and so much more – there’s always something you’ll really want to get involved with!
I reckon that’s enough from me, if you ever pop up anytime you really can’t miss me, I’ll be working at my desk, cup of fresh made tea by my side.
Hi, Bebhinn here, one of the Volunteer SU interns for 2019/20! I’m also in my second year studying at Queens, course rep for Politics, Philosophy and Economics and an enjoyer of all things biscuits. Enough about me, though – let’s get this blog started with just some of the things I’ve been up to with Volunteer SU so far!
Firstly, I got to meet lots of lovely people whilst recruiting in the Graduate School, the Student Guidance Centre and of course, the Fresher’s Fair! I’d never seen so many reusable plastic sporks before – and on the subject of merch, our giveaways are definitely the best in the SU: we even gave away a Fitbit to a lucky newsletter subscriber!
Promo in the Graduate School – spork anyone?
The Handy Helpers welcome event was the next item on the calendar, and it was brilliant. Ellen’s Social Hackathon had the room buzzing with ideas for how to improve the world – ideas we intend to work on, so watch this space! We now have over 200 students signed up to attend one-off volunteering projects, and more people getting involved all the time.
I spent most of the first month helping to prepare for Homework clubs training, a project which I took part in myself last year and enjoyed immensely. Nearly 100 students applied and attended, and are now helping out at 20 youth groups and after school clubs around Belfast, encouraging young people to follow their footsteps into higher education.
Joining in with some Handy Helpers at a painting and planting event was one of my favourite things so far; even if it did rain on us, we refused to be defeated, and did a great job of brightening up the Holylands for some wonderful residents. It was also the perfect break from our studies. There have been six other events Handy Helpers have assisted at so far, from acorn collection to planting trees in the Belfast hills to marshalling at the Cancer Focus Pink Run – and there’s so much more to come this semester!
Painting or forensic science… I’m not sure anymore
Finally, I’m getting great enjoyment from slowly stealing Michael’s teabags. (He’s the other intern and he’ll never know, as long as he doesn’t look over my shoulder while I type this… Truly, I am a brilliant desk-sharer)
All in all, working for Volunteer SU has been so much fun so far and no two days have ever been the same. Whether I’m organising an event, working on our newsletter, painting planters or cuddling a Cavalier in Need, as long as it’s getting students into volunteering, I know it’s worth it.
See you soon!
Hey guys, Ellen here! I’m back with my latest Volunteer SU Blog & want to update you on my last few months as an Inspiring Leaders Intern! J It’s been a hectic few months, and we’ve had so many exciting events on at Volunteer SU! All the while, we’ve been working away at Inspiring Leaders, Handy Helpers and Homework Clubs every day. Let me tell you a bit more about the action-packed Semester 2 we’ve had here & some of my most notable moments in this role:
The SU Awards
WOW. Having never been to the Students’ Union Awards before, I was absolutely blown away by the achievements of students here at Queen’s. The SU Awards are held annually to recognise the outstanding achievements of students in their respective club or society, those who pour their hearts into volunteering, those fighting for equality & to those who are determined to make their club or society here, the best it can possibly be! It was so heart-warming to be in a room full of students who all work so hard for one common goal – to make other students experiences at Queen’s better!
The night was also packed full of entertainment from Queen’s Dance Society & Queen’s Music Society – well done guys! Also, a particular well done to Belfast Marrow who won Voluntary/Charitable Society of the Year & Paddy Elliot who was awarded Volunteer of the Year – some fantastic achievements & it’s incredibly encouraging for us here at Volunteer SU!
To top it all off – we had a 3 course meal from none other than Domino’s Pizza, complete with a mini tub of Ben & Jerry’s! What could possibly be better? A massive round of applause is in order for Alice Devlin, your SU Clubs & Societies Coordinator, for organising such an incredible event!
Semester 2 – Inspiring Leaders Update
Since my last blog, we have had a Women in Leadership Masterclass hosted by Allen & Overy, trained two more cohorts of student volunteers & we’ve seen all of our Inspiring Leaders complete their Degree Plus Presentation in front of a judging panel! It’s been incredibly busy to say the least & has absolutely flown!
It has also been so much fun getting to work with Roisin & Louise from the William J Clinton Leadership Institute! I’ve learned so much from them both.
Inspiring Leaders Graduation
I have to say, watching 135 of our Inspiring Leaders participants (now graduates) from the past academic year come together in one room for the first time to celebrate their achievements. It has been hands down my favourite moment in this job! An incredible group of students, with a range of passions and voluntary roles & it was an absolute pleasure to see them rewarded for their volunteering efforts! Massive congratulations to Bogdan and Mohammed, our Highly Commended and Inspiring Leaders Graduates of the Year.
We had a drinks reception upon arrival & a chance for our Inspiring Leaders to catch up! Your Student Activities Officer, Robert Murtagh, was kind enough to compere the evening for us, with inspirational speeches full of advice for our volunteers, from the NI Commissioner for Children & Young People, Koulla Yiasouma & partner at PwC, Lynne Rainey! What an exciting evening it was – not to mention the professional photographs which I’m sure are all over LinkedIn by now!
Cavaliers in Need Info Session – A Student-Led Society!
It wouldn’t be a Volunteer SU Blog if I didn’t update you on how your favourite puppies are doing! This semester we hosted a ‘Cavaliers in Need Info Session’ to raise the idea of a CIN student-led society here at Queen’s & the results were overwhelming! We had 100 students sign up to this event & had students fill in the necessary signatures to get a society started within minutes of the meeting ending!
I’m pleased to announce that this was successful & that a Cavaliers in Need Society here at Queens is official! This will raise money for and awareness of the charity’s work, rescuing dogs from harrowing situations such as puppy farms. To get involved, email email@example.com or send the society a message on Facebook! It’s been so lovely to see students so passionate & engaged in getting this society going!
(Photo - Accurate representation of me living my best life when the pups come to the SU)
That’s it from me guys! Just a quick note to say that my time as a Volunteer SU Intern is nearly over, it’s been an incredible journey & I have loved every minute of it! Applications open again in summer & I would strongly encourage you to keep an eye out for this amazing opportunity :)
Stepping into 2019 as a Volunteer SU Intern
Hey again! It’s been a while, so I thought I’d give you an update on all of the happenings in your Students’ Union since the turn of the New Year! It’s been a busy few weeks – but totally worth it! We here at Volunteer SU have been working away on our Homework Clubs, Inspiring Leaders and Handy Helpers initiatives, and it’s been great to see such an interest in what we’re doing – trust me, our inbox says it all! There’s also been lots more happening throughout the Students’ Union that I’m lucky to have been a part of. It’s really made my experience working in the SU an enjoyable one, so let me tell you more about it:
The Christmas Staff Party
Our busy 2018 ended with the SU’s Christmas Staff Party. Weeks prior to that, though, Jennie from Advice SU was doing the rounds taking names for Secret Santa. Although I was hesitant at first being a bit of a newbie, I ended up getting our very own SU President Connor Veighy – relieved that I knew him, I was not so relieved that I had the duty of buying a gift for the PRESIDENT. It was all good though! On our last day before the Christmas break, we all congregated in Club Room 5 to exchange gifts, before heading to The Speakeasy to eat, drink and be merry. It was a really good night and allowed me to get to know my colleagues more outside of work – here’s to the next one!
Semester 2 Begins! (Homework Clubs)
And then into 2019… It was all systems go once Semester 2 kicked off with January Development Weeks, but it was nice to get back after a long Christmas break. Homework Clubs recruitment was mega busy and we were delighted with the interest from students. After responding to emails, receiving applications, reviewing applications, booking rooms and facilitators, and preparing for induction training, we are very proud and excited to say that we recruited 163 new volunteers for Homework Clubs this academic year; 163 of you that will provide homework support to children and young people living in areas of educational underachievement - THANK YOU and good luck in your new clubs!
This has probably been one of my highlights since getting involved with the SU. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch of OMNI, a movement spearheaded by the Students’ Union. OMNI takes a new approach to addressing issues and concerns relating to student mental health at Queen’s. 78% of students worry about their mental health, and in order to understand this further, OMNI is asking you to complete a short survey. The results from this survey will help the Students’ Union to identify the priorities and create more targeted initiatives that will tackle the mental health head on. It was encouraging to see senior leaders at the launch of OMNI such as Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education Professor David Jones, Mike Nesbitt MLA and Steven Agnew MLA – this only highlights the importance of this initiative. Take the survey. Join the movement.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day there was a whole lot of puppy love going around the Students’ Union as we had dog rescue charity, Cavaliers in Need NI in! This might be the ultimate perk of having a job in the SU. Getting to see the cutest puppers roaming around your workplace? Yass. When you’re bogged down with assignments and extracurricular activities, these doggos always brighten your day. If you would be interested with helping getting more dogs to safety by becoming involved in a Cavaliers in Need NI student-led society here at Queen’s, then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give you all the info!
The Low-Down on Being an Inspiring Leaders Intern
Hey! I’m Ellen Fearon, a final year Law & Politics student at Queen’s University, Belfast. Along with my studies and being Vice President of Enactus Belfast, I’ve also gotten the opportunity to work as a student intern in Volunteer SU this year! I started in September, and let me tell you it’s been a hectic and incredible few months! I have the role of being Volunteer SU’s Inspiring Leaders Intern. Inspiring Leaders is a programme for students volunteering in positions of leadership, supporting them to develop their leadership skills and rewarding them for their volunteering efforts.
You don’t often get to hear people saying that they love their job, but trust me, I love my job! As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m going to give you some insight into all the cool things I got to do this month that will explain why I love it:
Application reviews - students are amazing!
After reading over 150 of the applications for Inspiring Leaders, I was so blown away by how incredible some of the volunteering that students do in their communities and in Queen’s is! We have students running clubs and societies, going above and beyond in their roles as course and school reps, & volunteering in their local communities to improve the health and living standards of those around them! All of this while keeping up with uni work & maintaining a social life …… I think a round of applause is in order. In any other situation, I’m sure reading 150 applications might become a bit monotonous, but every person’s experience in volunteering was completely unique, and it was so clear how much this experience meant to people!
This is one of my favourite parts of the job. Getting to read about student’s passion for volunteering and leadership is so worthwhile! What’s even more amazing, is getting to be a part of the process of rewarding them for their efforts!
Dunadry Hotel Residential
One word: phenomenal. Despite helping to set up and welcome the leaders and students at this, I also got the opportunity to be one of the participants on the Inspiring Leaders November Residential. First off, it was really heart-warming to see all the other students enjoy the 2 days away at the Dunadry Hotel so much, after helping to organise it for the past few months. I know a few people who made friends for life through the programme which is a massive reason it’s always so successful!
On my part, I meet some amazing people and had so much fun finding out about my own personal leadership personality and bonding with people who are so similar to me in this way! It was also really cool to get to meet different leaders coming from business backgrounds, politics, community work, academics and student leaders too! I got some fantastic advice that I can use in everyday life & learnt what leadership is really about!
I also had some really nice food & drinks but that seems slightly less important… thankfully there were no hangovers!
I also get the opportunity to be involved in other initiatives within Volunteer SU…
Homework Club Co-ordinators Forum
This is hands down one of my favourite things that I’ve gotten to do in the last month. I was asked to sit in and take notes in a forum with all of the amazing people who co-ordinate the different Homework Clubs that Volunteer SU partner with. Just getting to sit in on this meeting, meant that I too got access to Volunteer Management training delivered by Volunteer Now which was really inspiring and helpful to me! I also got the opportunity to record some really positive feedback on the tutoring that our Homework Clubs volunteers do across Belfast.
Ps. Getting coffee & tray bakes from Café Krem doesn’t hurt at all.
Cavaliers in Need Cuddles!
Ok, so, honestly I wasn’t overly involved in this but I feel like any chance to play with dogs during your work day deserves a mention! I got to take some cute photos of the pups during the Cavaliers in Need Festive Cuddle Day… which got me in the festive spirit and took away all the stress from my uni work! Every day is different in Volunteer SU and small stuff like this really makes me appreciate that this is a really unique opportunity!
5 Reasons Why Being a Volunteer SU Intern is So Good!
Hey! I’m Ryan Lavelle, a second year Philosophy with Politics student here at Queen’s. I’m also a student intern in Volunteer SU where I get to help other Queen’s students find their perfect volunteering opportunity. I work specifically on the Homework Clubs initiative which allows students at Queen’s to help local children and young people build their study skills and confidence. What I like most about my role is promoting the value of service and volunteering throughout my own university whilst also helping fellow students develop themselves personally and professionally.
I’ve only been an intern in Volunteer SU for two months. Two months isn’t that long of a time, but I already feel like I have accomplished so much and have fitted into the team really well. From the office banter, to the unbelievable amount of emails, to the tea breaks, it’s all been good – and as I look at my (busy) calendar for the upcoming academic year, I’m excited for what’s ahead. Here are five reasons why I love being a student intern in Volunteer SU:
1. The new (temporary) Students’ Union building!
As some of you may know, the Students’ Union has temporarily moved from its old location, opposite the Lanyon Building to two locations nearby.
As much as I’d like to say that I spend my time in The (new) Speakeasy, myself and my Volunteer SU colleagues are situated in the office on the 2nd Floor of Students’ Union Elmwood. It’s pretty great, although it was daunting at first walking in as the newbie intern. After a week or two it felt like normal and everyone has been ace. We’ve also been doing Volunteer SU drop-in sessions since the start of the semester every Monday at 2-3pm, so if you’re reading this and you’re curious about what all we do here, pop in and we can have a chat – don’t be afraid of coming on in, if I can do it, you can too.
2. The pizza!
Anyone who has been to a Students’ Union event before might know that Domino’s pizza is the heart and soul of our lunchtimes. In October we had our Homework Clubs Induction Training an initiative I am particularly involved in) and aside from booking rooms, facilitators and so on, I knew ordering the pizzas would be the make or break decision. How much is too much? How little is too little? Do we need vegetarian pizzas? Vegan pizzas? In the end we ordered 42 pizzas. That’s a lot of students and guests to feed, but we did it and it worked a treat. Anyone interested in Homework Clubs can read about it here, or you can come to our drop-in session with any queries – we are recruiting for Homework Clubs volunteers again in the run up to Christmas, so keep an eye out for the application going live!
3. Meeting new people!
When you start a job with the Students’ Union, you better be prepared to meet loads of new people. One second you could be having a conversation with a senior figure within the University and the next you could be listening to questions from an enthusiastic, excited fresher. Since joining as an intern, I can’t begin to count how many people I’ve met – the rest of the Volunteer SU team, Enterprise SU, Marketing, the Student Officers, Homework Club Co-ordinators, representatives from Belfast City Council… the list goes on!
4. The merchandise and freebies!
Upon starting as an intern in Volunteer SU, Lucia – my new boss – gave me and fellow intern Ellen goodie bags full of Volunteer SU merch and freebies that have literally saved my life at times – shout out to the spaghetti measurer! If you saw us at Freshers’ Fair, you may have got a few freebies yourself. If not, I’m sure you’ll see our stall again at various events throughout the year….. with an abundance of pens, lanyards, note pads, highlighters, card holders, and, of course, spaghetti measurers!
5. Helping other students find their perfect volunteering opportunity!
At the heart of my job is helping Queen’s students to find their perfect volunteering opportunity, so that they can give back to the community whilst also developing their own personal skills. Although I am officially the Homework Clubs Intern, I feel valued in a whole team of people who work together in promoting different volunteering opportunities to students. I have volunteered myself previously in my local community as a Millennium Volunteer (and still try when I can), so I’m quite passionate about having and promoting a strong volunteering ethos. Being a student intern in Volunteer SU allows me to do just that, and it’s great! Volunteering can lead you to great places, allowing you to meet a whole bunch of people that may one day become your best pals - so why not try it this year?