UCL Union Voluntary Services Awards
5 June 2007
The UCL Union Voluntary Services Unit held its fourth annual awards ceremony on 5 June 2007, to recognise the contributions made in the community by UCL students and staff.
Also celebrating its fifth anniversary, the unit has grown from strength to strength in the past few years. 420 members of the UCL community volunteered more than 12,000 hours of their time in the 2006/2007 academic year, compared to 50 volunteers in the unit's first year. Head of the unit, Mr John Braime, stated that volunteering has become embedded as part of UCL culture.
The projects students have been involved in range from the Citizenship and Crime Project in primary schools, translation services from the award-winning Language Skills Pool, to the Refugee project, which aims to build confidence and skills amongst new arrivals to the UK, as well as raising awareness of the plight of refugees.
Broadcaster and journalist Jon Snow was guest of honour at the awards, who commended the volunteers and recounted his own volunteering experiences as an 18-year-old in a tiny Ugandan village with the Voluntary Service Overseas. He has volunteered ever since and is now Chair of the New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre working with young people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk in King's Cross.
He said: " I had a very conservative upbringing, and had never been abroad or on a plane. After six weeks of wanting to go home, I wanted to stay forever. I left a Tory and came home a revolutionary. It changed my life. When you volunteer, you meet people that expand your horizons in faith, politics and life. It makes you a more complete and rounded human being. When I started volunteering at New Horizons 37 years ago, 45 per cent of people there had been through the care system. Today, it's 46 per cent. The neglect of people who are deprived of family life is a conveyor belt to jail. If politicians tread the path of us volunteers they would change the way they view their policies."
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Image 1: Jon Snow
Image 2: UCL student volunteers