[Chloe Burrowes | Contributing Writer]
Katy Perry blasting out of the speakers and cakes everywhere I turned, the Volunteering Fair definitely wasn’t the event I was expecting. On the 27th of October, an atmosphere of optimism and excitement seemed to fill the room, helped by the location of the busy Forum foyer. I spoke to several stands ranging from far flung expeditions to projects closer to home, yet all of them had one thing in common – a want to do something out of the ordinary for others.
My first stop was definitely encouraged by the array of desserts on the table, from rose topped cupcakes to some more ethnic delicacies. Iqra Jheeze from Mankind Mission told me how they were using a world bake sale as an incentive to spread their mission to fundraise in aid of disaster struck countries. The project also has a Harry Potter marathon lined up, and allows people to join the committee to improve their project planning skills or simply joining in for one day for that feel good factor!
I then moved from projects in Hatfield to the more exotic locations of Thailand and China. Challenges Abroad’s aim is to help the education, welfare and livelihood of children and women, this time they are visiting Thailand going to an elephant sanctuary and a village. Sam Dukelow also thought fairs like this are important as the Student Union take for granted the impact they can make through organising events like this one and therefore helping stand alone projects make waves. There’s still time to get involved with this project as the three week challenge begins in June 2015.
Another overseas project was The Great Wall of China project for Children Reach International. Kat Redzikultsava feels that the fair was actually vital in getting the word out, she felt that with first and second years being bombarded with so much information, something just being there on their daily commute was very beneficial. This project is something to join now if you’re interested, as the fundraising begins now for next September allowing you to complete your challenge. Kat was keen to point out that is not a holiday. It’s 70 km in heat and its hard work but more importantly completely fulfilling. You support the charity in an amazing location and also get to see the people you’ve helped along the way – definitely worth it in my opinion!
If you want to combine some holidaying with a really worthwhile project then East African Playground could be for you. A month long project in Uganda looking for recruits to build a playground for a community, take part in art and play sessions and also on the weekends explore the surroundings and even go on safaris! Laura Dove described this as a personal challenge which allows you to gain a lot of experience and communication skills and urged people to apply online!
Interested in event management? Cedars Park Project may be perfect for you! Shannon Vine, from the charity, works to put on events and fundraise for Cedars Park. Being only a twenty minute drive away, it’s quick, easy and will make an impact. The project raises money for the park but Shannon wanted to make it clear that it is more than just giving money to the park – it’s for the big future events the park envisions. Anyone involved in event management courses, like Shannon, or who simply wants to work on their leadership skills or planning would find this beneficial as the project is aiming to build a team all with individual responsibility.
Slow Food on Campus is also similar as it is based at the University of Hertfordshire. A student led project based around food – and who doesn’t love food?! Already having events like picnics and planting rosemary plants for students cooking, this project also aims to have talks and visits to a farm; but most importantly needs student’s ideas to function. At the moment, Federica Pignatalo is suggesting for you to keep an eye on their Facebook page for news of upcoming events.
All of these events are for worthwhile causes and deserve your attention, yet be aware that there were more at this fair and also in general! Being at the fair inspired me to see how many people were willing to give up their time to help and I hope this will give some of you ideas of how to volunteer or to look into it further.
Overall, it doesn’t matter whether you’re helping someone in Hatfield or Haiti – all that matters is that volunteering is important and we should try and give back a little bit more!