UCL News


UCL in the News: Voluntary work - Time to get your hands dirty

26 April 2007

Volunteering is a whole lot more than just working for free, as those involved are keen to testify.

UCL currently has 350 students on its volunteering books; they clean up parks, pick up litter, mentor young people, guide refugees, teach, help in charity shops and homeless shelters, and much more, across the capital.

Hideki Matsumura is a third-year UCL Physics & Astronomy student. His interest in volunteering was kindled during a litter pick-up at primary school in Hong Kong. He began volunteering in the UK last year, and has since set up a society, the UCL Conservation Group, to get more people involved in improving and protecting their environment.

Matsumura concedes that his involvement will have improved his CV, but the immediate benefits have been in making new friends and discovering new parts of London. He's not yet sure whether to join the rat race or go in for further study, but his eyes have certainly been opened to environmental issues.

Anna Glowinski [UCL Geography], 21, began volunteering at her local Oxfam shop with a view to exploring career opportunities in the development sector, and has organised publicity stunts for the charity. Her grandmother reminded her that charity begins at home. "She pointed out that everyone is so interested in Africa," Glowinski says, "but there are a lot of things that need to be done right under your nose.

"I went to the UCL volunteer fair, and a leaflet about doing hand massage for Age Concern caught my eye. I got a five-week training course for free, and once a week I visit three housebound people for half an hour each and give them hand massages."

Glowinski began to volunteer when she had plenty of time and enough money in her first year, but she has since had to take on part-time work. She admits that volunteering can be time-consuming, especially as finals loom. …

Sophie Morris, 'The Independent'