University College London Union

Volunteers' Stories

Last year, over 1,800 UCL students participated in volunteering through the VSU.  Read on to find out about what some of our students have been doing.

Ellie Hawkins

Ellie Hawkins is a 3rd year student studying Ancient History. She spends every Saturday volunteering at Bethnal Green Academy as an Action Tutoring tutor.”Seeing my tutee’s confidence and ability grow throughout the year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this project to other students. I have tutored at a few schools with Action Tutoring now and each of them has been great. There is no better feeling than seeing your students make progress that they feel proud of.” Read more.

Ksenija Fedoreno

Ksenija Fedorenko has been volunteering at UCL Academy as a mentor. In her blog she explains how she found her time in the role. “The best thing about being a volunteer is having the opportunity to help people.” Read more.

Elspeth Bisson and Harriet Williams

Elspeth and Harriet studied Medicine at UCL graduating in the Summer of 2014. During their time here they volunteered with C4WS Homeless Project, helping prepare meals and set up/tidy up sleeping arrangements. “Volunteering with C4WS has been such an important part of our student experience of London. We are very grateful to the charity and the guests for making the experience so rewarding.  We hope we have shown our appreciation by the money and awareness Harriet and I have raised for the charity at UCL.  We have volunteered with UCL on many other schemes and believe the VSU is a fantastic facility that students could all get involved with.” Read more.

Nikolaos Souslous

Nikolaos is a 1st year BA History student at UCL. He has been volunteering with JumpStart since his second term, organising and preparing workshops for children at The John Roan school. “I was instantly astonished by the spirit that governs the JumpStart project, as it is one of the most innovative student-led activities that I have undertaken during my time at UCL. I realised that what really matters is to provide for society in any way possible, even though the project might not seem relevant to your studies or career aspirations.” Read more.

Nicoletta Enria and Elena Girelli

Nicoletta and Elena are project leaders for the UCL Language Club student led project. “UCL Language Club provided us with opportunities for personal growth which is what we are most grateful for and proud of. Having taught Italian at St George the Martyr Primary School last year with the UCL Language Club, we felt passionate about leading the project and were determined to continue the club after its 7 successful years of running. We wanted to expand the language club and create a sense of unity within it.” Read more.

Jennifer Marie Carpenter

Jennifer is a BA Archaeology and Anthropology going into her 3rd year. She has been volunteering with North London Cares a few a days a week. “It is great fun and so interesting to hear stories about another era. Also, one way or another I always go home in stiches! I would of course recommend North London Cares! It is so much fun and I think the community that North London Cares has created to support our older neighbours is so important and worthwhile.” Read more.

Joy Ho

Joy volunteers as a Gallery Assistant at the Museum of the Order of St John. She is Material and Visual Culture Masters student at the Department of Anthropology, and helps out fortnightly at the museum. “I would definitely recommend the project and volunteering in general to everyone. As students, we often get caught up in our daily routine of projects, tests and work. However, volunteering gives one the opportunity to experience what it might be like to be in a working environment and also to meet like-minded people with common interests. Spending my time doing volunteer work is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I have done as a student, and I will definitely advocate the spirit of volunteerism to everyone else!”. Read more.

Caroline Rundell

Caroline is a first year medical student here at UCL. She gives 2 hours a week tutoring AS Science through Generating Genius. ” I have never looked forward to volunteering as much as I do with this program. I have told many of my friends about it, and there is the unanimous response of ‘wow, that’s such a worthwhile cause’. For the first time, I am volunteering because I want to and because I wholeheartedly believe in a projects’ aims.” Read more.

Giuliana Militello

Giuliana is a first year Language and Culture student and helps out at the Sue Ryder Shop once a week. “I would definitely recommend volunteering in a charity shop like Sue Ryder as it not only provides essential retail experience and useful transferable skills, but it can also increase your confidence and people skills. If you’re in need of retail experience, need to volunteer certain hours or simply want a part-time hobby, I would suggest volunteering at Sue Ryder to anyone and everyone. Also, I’ve discovered many hidden gems and bargain buys!” Read more.

Ali Sarraf

Ali has been volunteering with Generating Genius for 5 months as an A Level Maths tutor. He is a 1st year Computer Science student, and volunteers an hour a week. “Volunteering has made me more likely to help people, especially if it is an academic problem. Volunteering with Generating Genius has me realise that I genuinely enjoy abstracting difficult ideas and explaining them to people.” Read more.

Zhanelya Subebayeva

Zhanelya is a 3rd year Computer Science student. For the last 5 months she has volunteered 1-2 hours a week with The Liver Group Charity, working on their web content and social media presence. “The best thing about volunteering with this charity is that I am part of a team whose main goal is to create a Bioartificial Liver Machine, which will temporarily replace liver function, giving the liver those critical few days necessary to heal itself. This is a hugely important project, which will have a significant and positive impact on society, and I feel very privileged to be involved. ” Read more.

Marilena Hadjittofi

Marilena currently volunteers befriending patients on the Red Cell Haematology floor at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre.  She’s a a third year Psychology student and volunteers at the hospital once a week. “I would recommend this project to anyone that wants to help people and also get involved with a great organisation such as Macmillan. Volunteers have a lot to gain, they meet a lot of new people and make new friends and most of all, you never feel like your time is wasted and it’s a continuous process of learning and improving your skills. The role is very well supported and supervised, not just by the Macmillan service but also by the Clinical Psychologist at the unit.” Read more.

Harvey Ellerby

Harvey is a first year undergraduate studying Finnish and East European Studies.  He volunteers weekly with ReachOut! as a Mentor at Carlton Primary School in Camden.  “It is definitely something I look forward to every week. It is very rewarding to watch my mentee progressing academically and on the sports field on a week by week basis. It is also beneficial to have something stable in your weekly life as living in London can be quite stressful at times. I feel like I’ve made friends with new people, not students only at UCL, but also those at other institutions such as King’s College London and Queen Mary.” Read more.

Katy Murray

Katy Murray graduated from UCL in 2013 with a degree in Ancient World Studies, and got involved in lots of volunteering along the way - including some time with the VSU. She’s currently volunteering with the Children’s Heart Foundation. “During my second year, I learnt the power of starting small.  I was incredibly fortunate to find an unpaid role in a small social enterprise company. I am still amazed and the enormous level of responsibility, autonomy, and opportunity this small organisation gave me. When I finished, with a view to gaining more hands-on experience on a smaller scale, I contacted the UCLU Volunteering Services Unit to see how I could help.  Working with the VSU took me into some tiny charitable and not-for-profit organisations in London…. read more.

Sabina Garahan

Sabina is a law student here at UCL.  She volunteers at Community Links in Newham every Tuesday for at least half a day.  “As a law student at UCL, exposure to high-paying commercial city firms is incredibly high, so as someone who lives in East London I wanted to make the most of an opportunity to help those in my community, who perhaps need legal assistance the most.  This volunteering role has made me a lot more confident as I’ve never had the opportunity to conduct my own client interviews before. It’s also vastly improved my communication skills…” Read More

Oliver Page

Oliver is a 3rd year Medical and Psychology Intercalated BSC student. He has been volunteering as mentor for the past month at the Refugee Therapy Centre, where he gives 3 hours of his time a week to help his varied client base with their individaul needs. “The best thing about this project is that it is all about helping an underprivileged, often overlooked sector of our society. Refugees are in need of a lot of support and need to feel empowered rather than overwhelmed by the new culture they are involved in. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone with a few spare hours a week as it is thoroughly worthwhile. I think that there is a lot to be learnt from mentoring refugees - both them from you and you from them.”

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Sarah Martindale

Sarah is a Biomedical Sciences student. She volunteers with the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre where she acts as a Welcomer and Guide for the centres patients. ” I would thoroughly recommend volunteering at the cancer centre as I feel I have made a positive impact on the lives of many patients. There are fantastic opportunities for personal development and the volunteering department are very open to listening to suggestions and volunteers are encouraged to suggest new roles they envisage could be needed.”

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Catriona Hepburn

Catriona is a postgraduate Law student. She volunteers once a week as a Fundraising Intern for Westminster Befriend a Family, where she is responsible for sourcing and applying for new funding opportunities. “Volunteering has provided me with the perfect opportunity to improve my own skills, whilst also contributing to a very worthwhile cause.  It is rewarding to take a break from my studies and do something different that challenges me in a new way. I have also had the opportunity to meet a wide selection of different people who are experts in their various fields.”

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Temitayo Olaofe

Temitayo has just finished a postgraduate degree in Law.  She ran the Schools Book Club through 2012-13, volunteering every Wednesday for a couple of hours in term-time. “I would recommend volunteering to everyone at UCL. Pick a project that aligns with your interests and have a blast doing it! You will gain invaluable skills and experience, which will be very useful during interviews for internships or graduate roles.”

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Shermohammed Khan

Shermohammed is a third year Philosophy and History of Art student.  He’s been volunteering as a mentor for the past year once a week at IntoUniversity’s Hackney South Centre.  “In my first ever session with my mentee we talked about the kinds of challenges he was facing at school and what he felt he needed to work on. I’ve learned so much about my mentee and I’d like to think he feels the same. Knowing that I’ve had a positive influence on his life is incredibly encouraging and mentoring for the time I have with IntoUniversity has been equally as rewarding.”

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Valeriya Nefyodova

Valeriya is a third year Psychology student.  She volunteered for the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) as a Selection Event Volunteer in 2012. “I feel that I contributed to something that may never happen again – I helped to select volunteers for once in a lifetime event, a truly magnificent and exciting event in the history of the country. The very feeling of being a part of the great team that make the Olympics happen cannot be described in words, it’s unbelievable, overwhelming and extraordinary experience that changes you, transforms your mind set and makes you grow…”

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Tim Davies

Tim Davies a 3rd Year, History of Art student, tells us about his volunteering at the Hayward Gallery in the Southbank Centre in 2012. “It was great being able to see the backstage workings of a museum and meet curators and the artists; invaluable CV fodder. The best thing about volunteering is meeting people who are as passionate as you are about the project and gaining experience of institutions that would usually require you to be in a position of employment, something which is difficult to attain at this age.”

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Sheikh Momin

Sheikh Momin is currently in his first year of a Medicine degree at UCL. This year, he has volunteered with the UCLU Bangla Society’s Mentoring Scheme. “The scope of opportunities available in volunteering is incredible, and these projects offer a unique way to bring you into contact with different people from all backgrounds, and it is truly incredible to see their perspectives on life in comparison to yours, as well as extremely rewarding to know that your effort has made a difference.”

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Anqi Huang

Anqi Huang is a second year Mathematics student who volunteers at the UCL Special Collections and took part in the ‘Chinese New Year’ event held by the British Chinese Project in February 2013.

“Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills. It gives me a chance to discover what kinds of things I’m best at and enjoy the most. Also, it provides me with a sense of responsibility and helps me develop a new understanding of people who are different from me. Donating time is a great way to feel like I have the power to change things for the better.”

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Sadhika Shegar

Sadhika is a second year Law student who volunteers for IntoUniversity at their Haringey North Centre.  “Personally, I feel that the best thing about volunteering is knowing that you are doing your part to make your community a healthier and happier place. No matter how insignificant a volunteering position may seem, I strongly believe that every form of help counts towards improving the lives of others, which also enriches your life as a volunteer. I think a particular challenge of volunteering is making time for it initially. However, once I got into a routine of balancing my volunteering with other commitments this challenge was overcome.”

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Billy Mayor

Billy is a MRes Crime and Security Science student. Last year, he set up and ran the RaspberryPython project.

“I think there’s a great feeling that comes from doing any kind of volunteering; to be able to say that you gave up your time for others. The best feeling for me, however, is knowing that there are now some people out there that have gained knowledge and skills that they otherwise might not ever have had the opportunity to gain.”

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Krishna Vadakattu

Krishna Vadakattu is a 2nd Year Mechanical Engineering student volunteering for West Euston Partnership Ability Bikes in Regents Park on Saturdays.

“By participating in the programme I feel more relaxed, productive and capable of managing my time. I have gained valuable communication skills and would recommend the scheme to anyone, because you enjoy the experience even more than the parents and children you are helping.”

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Janice Lee

Janice Lee is a third year Medic who has volunteered for the past three years for 2-3 hours a week supporting a client at the Third Age Project in Camden.

“The best thing about volunteering is meeting and getting to know people from all walks of life. Living in this busy, bustling city of London means that we are constantly rushing around from one place to another that we hardly ever strike up conversations with people around us that we do not know.”

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Uzoma Iheanyichukwu Onyekachi

Uzoma is studying for an MSc in Systems Engineering Management, and took part in the VSU’s Halls of Residence Volunteering Initiative, teaching IT skills to people experiencing homelessness.

“The best thing about volunteering is the joy we put on the faces of people when we get them see the amazing things they can do which they never thought they could do.”

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Irina Mnohoghitnei

Irina graduated with a Computer Science degree in summer 2012.  She is now studying for an MSc in Financial Systems Engineering.  Irina  organised the 2011 international trip for the UCLU Volunteering Society and volunteered for St. George’s Church in Bloomsbury.

“Being a volunteer provided me with much satisfaction, because I had the chance to spend my time helping other people and genuinely making a difference in other people’s lives. At first, I used to be a lot less efficient with managing my time, but volunteering helped me learn to prioritise my time and get a lot more done.”

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Weiling Ng

Weiling Ng is a third year Law student.  She’s volunteered for LOCOG ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, participated in the VSU student-led project Citizenship & Crime, helped a client at Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea go Christmas shopping and co-led the VSU student-led project Teddy Bear Clinic.

“I think volunteering has helped me to take a less myopic view of things, to see the beauty in others and not to compare myself with others. The optimism of others who are less fortunate than me reminds me to be humble, happy, contented and appreciative of my loved ones.”

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Vanessa Thompset

Vanessa is a second year English Literature student here at UCL.  Vanessa volunteers weekly at the Ragged School Museum as an Education Assistant.

“I would definitely recommend volunteering at the Ragged School Museum. It’s amazing to feel that you’ve potentially inspired a class of children to take more of an interest in the Victorian era and to work in a smaller, very friendly museum; every session is a huge amount of fun and, in addition, takes my mind off my course for a few hours a week!”

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