Volunteering Fair Success

by Caroline Hanson, Employment Adviser

Recently, SHU Careers and Employability Service worked with D&S academic departments, the D & S placement team and Hallam Union to host a targetted volunteering fair. Over 350 students studying Psychology, Sociology, Politics, Law and Criminology came along to investigate opportunities open to them and network with local organisations.

The team designed the fair to encourage these students to learn about  and get involved in,  the broad range of volunteering opportunities available that are relevant to their degree subject and could ultimately enhance their career prospects.

We’d arranged for 20 external organisations to be there –  including South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust, Caudwell Children, Making Space, Catch 22 and local political parties.  Our students found out about voluntary opportunities in areas such as campaigning, mental health support, advice work, youth work, research, helplines, tutoring and mentoring. We also provided information about the additional opportunities offered by Hallam Union Volunteering, and shared about placement opportunities and support available from the Careers and Employment Service.

Around 50% of those who attended were in their first year of study. It was good to see that students are now thinking about gaining experience early on in their course. 90% of those who completed the feedback questionnaire stated that the fair was useful in helping them find voluntary work, with 70% of respondents having signed up to a voluntary opportunity that day.

The event also helped to build stronger relationships with local organisations and discuss opportunities to work together in the future. The feedback was generally very positive; Catch 22 representatives commented, “Students seemed very willing and enthusiastic about the opportunities on offer,” whilst Sue Butler from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue stated,  “This event was ideal for a new role we are currently recruiting for – which is particularly for students.”

From our perspective in the Careers and Employment team, working with colleagues in faculties always proves beneficial – we can create a highly focussed event for our students, utilise a wider network of contacts and promote it more effectively to the students. We hope to build on the success, to repeat and expand the event in future years.