The act of Volunteering: Make a difference in your community - Bridgwater & Taunton College

It is a great feeling to know as students we have contributed to Bridgwater College winning their 14th Beacon Award for inspiring students through coaching, leading and volunteering, helping to unite and enhance physical activity in the local area.

We are studying the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science and write about four crucial factors needed to create a successful volunteering programme.

As students, we are quite often asked about our Team BC Active programme (Student Volunteering Programme) and what makes it work so effectively.  Questions such as ‘Why do you volunteer, when other organisations don’t?’ and ‘How do you manage your time to volunteer and support the local community?’. Reflecting on our time volunteering, we believe in four key principles that we would encourage other organisations to put at the heart of their philosophy.

The first principle needing to be evident for successful volunteering programmes is a clear identity and vision. When designing our own volunteering programme we asked 100s of staff and students, what does our volunteering programme stand for? This is your first key element of a programme, because if you cannot answer this question, creating meaningful and purposeful opportunities to help the local community becomes challenging.

Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of students within a volunteering role! Students are blessed with a great sense of creativity and innovation. They are ‘free-thinkers’ and quite often approach issues, problems and obstacles from a different perspective to the rest of a workforce. This is a powerful tool as it allows us to collaborate, gain confidence and reflect on how our ideas have developed the local community. 

Thirdly, all types of volunteering has to have flexibility and reward. It is important to remember that students are extremely busy, therefore the volunteering has to be meaningful and flexible to their needs. Volunteering in itself is extremely rewarding and we often feel proud of our effort, but giving reward in the way of feedback is so important to show that they are making a difference in their community.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, tap into why students want to volunteer. Yes, they know the skills they can develop, but more often than not they will have a real passion for making a difference and feel strongly about a specific cause. As Team BC Active (consisting of nearly 30 student volunteers) we are empowered to take responsibility and it gives a real sense of value to all of our projects and makes their efforts feel welcomed and purposeful.

All of these different factors have allowed us to develop a programme where we deliver 30 different sports across the College and local community. Since September we have already logged over 550 hours of voluntary work experience as a team!

To know more about being a Student Activator at Bridgwater College please call 01278 441322.

Written by students, Zack Mitchell, Alisha Gardener and Charlie Fouracres.

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