A Worthy Resolution

Katie Ridley 31 January 2008

A lot of us make New Year’s Resolutions but often progress no further because we do not know how to go about it. This is where Student Community Action can come in. Resolution 1 is really up to you, but we can certainly help you achieve 2 and 3. Every year we help hundreds of students to find a volunteering placement that suits them. By getting involved with the Cambridge community you’re almost certain to make new friends; both inside and outside the university!

Many of you will have heard of Student Community Action already—we were one of those hundreds of stalls at the societies fair, and some of you may even have signed up with us but not quite gotten any further.

If you’d like to get involved with something new for 2008, why not consider working in the community here in Cambridge? You would do something vital to the local community, make new friends and have lots of fun (the good, I’m-doing-something-really-useful kind, rather than the I-really-should-be-working-but-I’m-not kind).

There are lots of options for volunteering, meaning that there really is something out there to suit everyone. SCA runs 10 projects itself (from chatting to the elderly on a Sunday afternoon over a game of Scrabble to becoming a ‘BigSib’ to a local youngster). We also recruit for about 70 other organisations and they cover an even wider range—environmental work, coaching children in sports, enabling everyone to access theatre, working in a Charity shop… This means that whatever you feel you fancy doing, we can almost certainly find someone out there waiting for your enthusiasm and support.

There’s no set time requirement—some projects ask for a regular commitment, maybe a couple of hours a week, whereas others just ask for you to help out when you can, so it really just depends on the amount of time you have to give.

There are few other requirements. Before you start volunteering we will have to do a CRB check for you (this is just to check that you have no criminal convictions that would mean you couldn’t volunteer in certain situations). We will also ask for the names of two people that we can contact to write a very brief reference about you.

While you’re waiting for that to be sorted out, you’ll be given the chance to undergo training that is appropriate to what you’re going to be doing (e.g. Protection of Vulnerable Adults, Teaching English as a Second Language etc.). And then you’re off! There is always lots of support available for you throughout the time that you’re volunteering, and if you find that what you’ve decided on isn’t actually for you we can always find another opportunity where you feel more comfortable.

There are so many opportunities that are vital to the community. If you don’t want to commit to anything yet, why not go on our web site and sign-up for our weekly e-mail bulletin? This informs you of new, one-off or short volunteering opportunities so you don’t miss the chance to do something that you would really like to do.

One of our biggest projects this year is TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). There is an increased demand for volunteers and it provides a fantastic opportunity and good CV material for anyone considering teaching English abroad. This project involves visiting a child for whom English is not their first language. You could choose to visit their school to help them in their lessons. Alternatively, volunteers may visit the child’s home to play games with them and help increase their language confidence. This project is especially rewarding and fun and a really refreshing break from the library!

There is also the opportunity to get involved in the running of SCA; we’re run by a student committee who are elected at the end of Lent term every year. If you want to get involved in running something now, then why not become a college rep and help promote SCA in your college? We also have an events team that is vitally important for raising funds and awareness and would love some new members with new ideas for 2008.

If you’re interested in any of these ideas then do get in touch. You’ll find Susie, Linda and Rebecca in our office at 10 Pembroke Street Monday to Thursday (Tel: 01223 350 365). They can tell you more about the projects and when you’ve decided, sign you up.

Alternatively there’s more information on our web site (www.cambridgesca.org.uk). Here you can find out who all the committee members are. There is also an electronic copy of our handbook for this year, which tells you a little about all of the projects we offer and what you need to do to get started.

So if you really do want to make 2008 a year where you make a difference for your community, make new friends, see how much there is that you have to offer and actually keep some New Year’s resolutions get in touch with SCA now—we’d love to have you!

Katie Ridley