Volunteering Blog | UCL Engineering and Students Union UCL Volunteering Service
5 November 2021
UCL Engineering and Students Union UCL Volunteering Service are teaming up to help even more UCL Engineering students get involved in community projects around London. Dr Elpida Makrygianni MBE (Head of Education Engagement) and John Braime (Volunteering Manager) explain why.
Our UCL Engineering students love volunteering; we know it is one of their most rewarding and fulfilling experiences while at university, and it is a huge part of student life in the Faculty. We’re right in the heart of London - we live, study and work here, surrounded by so many different communities and fantastic charities. We want to play our part in the life of this big global city, and to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Through volunteering, our students make new friends, strengthen their connections to local communities, improve their wellbeing and find a sense of purpose. It enriches their student experience and creates an increased sense of belonging to the university and to the community around them.
For our students, volunteering also helps them develop invaluable transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, project management and leadership. In surveys carried out by the UCL Volunteering Service, 91% of UCL student volunteers said that they’d developed useful workplace skills, 90% said it had benefited their academic studies, and 75% said it had improved their own wellbeing.
Project Impactive is one such example; a wonderful volunteering initiative, co-led last academic year by UCL mechanical engineering alumnus Volodymyr Kyselov. This UCL student group works with people with disabilities to co-design improvements to disability aids. Volodomyr comments:
One of the best things for me has been the opportunity to connect to so many smart and talented people, and just by being around them I have learned so much.”
Engineering is about making a positive change in the world; as we start to see what a post-COVID world might look like, it is more important than ever that we get involved. Engineering students have an outlook and skills that are acutely needed. Volunteering is a great way of showing what engineering is all about; its social, environmental and humanitarian nature.
In addition, for engineers volunteering is a great chance to act as an ambassador for the discipline - you get to meet people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and can introduce new audiences to engineering.
One of the most rewarding and successful programmes that UCL Engineering offers is a tutoring and mentoring scheme for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across London. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our student tutors offered more than 5,000 hours of one-to-one tutoring on STEM subjects. 78% of secondary school pupils who benefited from our online tutoring programme improved their grades by an average of 1.5 – 2 progress points amongst participating pupils. Pupils with grades below the average doubled their grades across all STEM subjects. 83% made excellent progress in maths while 72% of pupils showed a big improvement in their science scores.
UCL Engineering Tutor, Zarin Haque, says
Without a question, [the best aspect of volunteering] is the bonding and social experience. It is a breath of fresh air to meet the tutees every week, and their zeal to learn and excel inspires me to put in more efforts for my own assignments and exams. It is, by far, a principle driving force for motivation for me as I get to help my tutees and also help myself along the way.”
Our volunteers are very busy people, but they make time for volunteering as they see it as extremely rewarding, something that gives them a purpose, and the chance to be part of something bigger than themselves. They gain a unique understanding into local communities through high quality volunteering opportunities - plus get support from both the UCL Volunteering Service and UCL Engineering.
The Students’ Union Volunteering Service works with over 400 community organisations and there are so many ways to get involved; helping young people from under-represented communities gain access to university through tutoring; planting in community gardens; supporting animal shelters or wildlife centres; serving people at a soup kitchen; designing disability aids; supporting refugees; transforming old community centres and many more.
We’d love all UCL Engineering students to try out volunteering. To get started, sign up to the UCL Volunteering Services newsletter, or check out the dedicated Faculty of Engineering Sciences volunteering opportunities webpage.
With thanks to Dr Elpida Makrygianni MBE and John Braime.
- UCL Engineering launches new partnership with Students’ Union UCL Volunteering Service.
- Students' Union UCL Volunteering Service (VS) website.
- Get started with Volunteering at UCL.
- UCL Volunteering Service impact.
- Project Impactive Students’ Union UCL article.
- UCL Engineering Schools engagement.
- Caption: A UCL student volunteer at a recent Sustainability Fair.
- Credit: The UCL Students' Union Volunteering Service Unit.