University College London Union

Volunteers' Stories

Over the past academic year 2,000 UCL students participated in volunteering through the VSU. Read on to find out about what some of our students have been doing.

Ayesha Begum

Ayesha Begum studies History with French, and volunteers for two hours a week as a mentor with Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre in Camden.

” I absolutely love volunteering at Hopscotch, and I’m so glad that I decided to stay on. If you can spare even one hour a week, I would definitely recommend volunteering with young people. The team at Hopscotch are extremely welcoming and are always willing to offer advice and guidance whenever you need it.” Read more

Fernanda Munhoz

Fernanda Munhoz, who is studying for an MA in Human Rights, has been volunteering at UNA-UK, for two days a week.

“I felt part of a new wave in UK politics and media, where individuals are constantly interacting with politicians on issues they are passionate about relating to the UN’s work and values. Through this experience, I was able to aid in the campaigning and education of these issues.’ Read more.

Will Eckersley

Will Eckersley is a third year Philosophy student who has been volunteering at the Westminster Kingsway College, on a weekly basis for an hour and a half.

“I hope that I have opened people’s eyes to new ways of thinking about problems that arise in the way we live our lives, and given the students I’ve taught the chance to explore new ways of challenging our assumptions about the world.” Read more.

Olly Southwick

Olly Southwick is in his fourth year studying for a PhD in mathematics. His research uses maths to understand ocean currents. He volunteers with the Access Project at UCL, for a couple of hours every week. Here he tells us more about his experience.

“Tutoring your subject to bright but less privileged students is really effective volunteering. It’s a direct use of your skills to improve social mobility and you get to see real tangible benefits in the students you support. The Access Project is a really excellent charity and has a very effective system in place…” Read more.

Pietro Servini

Pietro Servini is a postgrad maths student at UCL, and also a long-standing volunteer at the Dorcas Befriending Project in Islington.

“I’ve made some great new friends and met many fantastic people through my time with Dorcas.  First and foremost are the people I’ve visited: we’re a charity about building friendships and you’re given the complete freedom to do so.  Everyone I’ve visited has been very different and sometimes it requires a bit of effort to gain their acceptance, but it’s always incredibly rewarding and fulfilling in the end.” Read more.

Faith Anderson

Faith Anderson is in her fourth (and final) year of studying French and German. Every week for four hours, she volunteers at Age UK Westminster. Here she tells us more about her experience.

“I think I have become a more compassionate person. I would never have chosen an elderly persons’ charity but it was the best opportunity and offered the office experience I needed. However, I am now a passionate advocate of elderly persons’ rights and needs and I would choose this area of the third sector to work in if I had the choice. My opinion of elderly people has changed so much…” Read more.

Katherine Bloor

Katherine Bloor

Katherine Bloor is a BA French and Russian student, and has been volunteering with the UMWEP (United Migrant Workers Education Project) at ‘Unite the Union’, Holborn.

“By far the best thing about this volunteering experience has been the people who I have met along the way. As well as the kindness and enthusiasm from the tutors at UMWEP, the students are among some of the most inspiring and grateful people I have ever known. They teach me just as much as I teach them, and I love to learn about their languages and cultures as well as informing them about mine.” Read more.

Charlotte Lee

Charlotte Lee is a BSc Psychology and Language Sciences student who has been volunteering at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre as a Pharmacy Volunteer, once a week for the past six months. 

“Unequivocally I have enjoyed every moment spent here – which explains why I have been volunteering for as long as I have! Without a doubt volunteering for the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre was the right choice. I feel a valued member of the team and know they appreciate the time I dedicate volunteering here. They understand that sometimes volunteering may conflict with my academic work and are always willing to accommodate any time I may need off for revision or exams.” Read more.

Oliver Wong

Oliver Wong is a Biomedical Sciences student who’s been volunteering for an hour a week for a term at the Bridge Academy school in Hackney as a Careers Coach.

“We mentor a select group of Year 9 students providing career guidance to help them better understand what opportunities are available to themselves, as well as a means of pursuing them. Ultimately the aim of the programme is to help encourage struggling students to achieve their full potential and set them on track towards their chosen career, giving them a little boost along the way!” Read more.

Christina Kamposiori

Christina Kamposiori is a PhD Student at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, Department of Information Studies. She has been volunteering at the Science Museum as a Record Management Assistant for the last 3 years and at Kenwood House, English Heritage as an Explainer for 1 year. 

“Developing new contacts and networks has always been one of the most important and interesting parts of my volunteering experience… Enthusiastic people who love culture are always needed in this sector. So, if you feel strongly about it, go ahead! The experiences you will gain will raise your confidence and help you develop new skills.” Read more.

Tom Hague

Tom is an MA Transnational Studies student who volunteers weekly for the Hackney Pirates in East London.  “It’s fun, creative, imaginative and makes a big difference. It’s also well-organised, friendly and very convenient for students: you sign up online whenever you want and the coordinators are really accommodating. You’ll meet some great people, hilarious kids and hopefully change someone’s life for the better!” Read more.

Ksenija Fedorenko

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.

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.

We’ve got lots more stories of volunteers on projects, check out our stories index to read more.