Thousands of undergraduates arriving to start their studies at the University of Leeds will be encouraged to join a growing band of student volunteers making a difference in local communities.
Leeds University Union (LUU), is offering returning and new students more than 150 volunteering opportunities with charities and community projects in the city. Last year students volunteered 19,000 hours through LUU projects and raised £325,000 for charities and charitable causes. This included £23,000 allocated through a local community fund, with grants of £500, £1000 and £1500 given to Leeds charities and community groups.
Two years ago Ali Ward, general manager of Emmaus Leeds, a charity that helps homeless people rebuild their lives, visited LUU to talk about the opportunities for students to do voluntary work with the charity. She became involved in Green Streets, a student-led project aiming to minimise how much reusable waste is left behind by students at the end of the academic year. Students also volunteer in the Emmaus Leeds shop.
“Leeds University Union and the students – and a lot of people who work at the union are students – deserve the credit for setting up something so successful, “says Ali. “The students we came across when we were out collecting for the Green Streets project were fantastic. And everything we’ve raised has stayed local and benefited local people who’ve had the option to come in and buy fantastic stuff.”
LUU, a charity itself, represents 33,000 students at the University of Leeds, and is one of the largest student unions in the UK. Since 2007 it has been encouraging students to make a positive contribution to Leeds. Its 11 community reps represent students throughout Leeds, in areas based on postcodes from LS1 – LS28. Their role is to help students get involved in their local area, whether that is by attending residents’ association meetings or promoting local volunteering opportunities, and create a sense of community.
Students at the University of Leeds contribute £211 milliona year to the local Leeds economy.