By Poppy Askham
Local charities have thanked Durham students for their volunteering efforts during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Around 500 students have continued volunteering for charities based in the North East over the course of the second lockdown, both in person and online. Under current lockdown rules, leaving the house to volunteer for charitable organisations is permitted.
Students have been involved in a wide range of initiatives including tutoring for local young people, litter picking, gardening and fundraising. Other projects include assisting Beyond Boundaries, an inclusive educational activity centre in Commondale, North Yorkshire and caring for horses and maintaining stables at Riding for the Disabled, in Washington on Wearside.
Charities have also highlighted the importance of student donations to collections for projects including County Durham Foodbank, homelessness charity Durham Action on Single Housing (DASH), Red Supported Living in Ferryhill, County Durham, and Feeding Families.
Pam Lovell, Volunteer Co-Ordinator at the Ushaw estate, said: “Thanks to the support of Durham University volunteers we are able to welcome visitors to our unique heritage and visitor attraction, of glorious Georgian and Victorian Gothic architecture and stunning grounds. All our volunteers are an integral part of Ushaw life, their contribution to the organisation is immeasurable and we value their participation and commitment.”
Quentin Sloper, the University’s Director of Experience Durham programme, also praised student volunteers: “We’re very proud that, despite the challenges of Covid-19, many of our students have kept volunteering and making a real difference to local communities and good causes. Their determination and creativity has been inspiring”
“We’re also grateful to our community partners who have worked so hard to make continued volunteering possible and safe,” he added.
In pre-Covid times around 2,500 Durham University students volunteered each year, devoting an estimated combined 40,000 hours of their time to charitable projects. The University estimates that around 2,500 people benefitted directly from over 80 projects in the North East last year.
In June this year, the University’s Student Volunteering and Outreach received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given for community volunteering in the UK.
Saturday 5th December is International Volunteering Day and in the week leading up to the celebration, the University is encouraging its graduates to share stories of how they are volunteering locally, wherever they are in the world.
Image Durham University via Flickr