Hundreds of students from the University of Portsmouth have been giving up their time to help others, including Emma Siddall
About 1,000 students are members of the Students’ Union Volunteering in Portsmouth (VIP) group, a further 700 volunteer through the University’s employment and careers office Purple Door and about 200 volunteer as coaches through the sports department, which has worked with and held activities at almost every school in the city.
Purple Door placed 700 students in volunteer roles last year and students can choose from a wide range of projects to work on.
Emma Siddall is volunteering officer for the Alzheimer’s Society in Hampshire but a few years ago, when she was studying for her BSc in geological hazards, she offered to join other students on a beach clean.
She said: ‘As the president of the University’s earth society, we were in frequent contact with the Students’ Union. They mentioned they had a beach clean in Langstone Harbour so we advertised it to all of our members and got a little group together to help out.
‘The beach clean would have made the area safer and more appealing to those who used it, like dog walkers, children and local residents.
‘From the environmental side, it would have helped make sure the local flora and fauna could thrive without becoming entangled or overcome by the rubbish.
‘Volunteers are useful when working alongside an organisation and tend to have a greater drive and passion because they sometimes feel closer to the cause, perhaps through experiences of their own.
‘Volunteering matters because it enables us all to help others and remind society that although bad things happen, there will always be someone there to help.’
Waqar Younas, president of VIP, said: ‘Small differences can make such a big impact on the lives of others and that’s what makes volunteering so important. There are so many amazing projects in Portsmouth but what is more surprising is how many of those have support from student volunteers.
‘Our aim is to get students, who cannot volunteer regularly or have never volunteered, involved in events ranging from beach cleans and soup kitchens to Christmas parties for the elderly, but we’ve also got students involved in tackling wider social issues such as homelessness, the refugee crisis and food poverty.’