Taking volunteering seriously

Georgia Donohue is Volunteering Team Leader in the Student Enrichment Directorate at Durham University 

At Durham, we have a pretty unique model for supporting volunteering.

The university has a department dedicated to Volunteering and Outreach (DUVO) – with 10 full time staff members working across student-led projects, colleges, departments, societies, community sport and staff volunteering.

We know this makes volunteering at Durham University unique – and at our session at this year’s Membership Services Conference, we’re sharing insight into our model with other institutions to generate ideas and overcome some structural issues.

The session includes information about what we do and what our overarching structure looks like; including the ways in which we achieve it, problems we encounter and how we overcome them.

Formalising volunteering

Volunteering was formalised at the University in 1989 with the aim to support the local community and offer an extensive range of volunteering experiences to all Durham students.

The student-led organisation DUSVO (Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach), previously known as SCA (Student Community Action) is run by a student executive committee who oversee the direction of student volunteering at Durham.

They support the Project Manager, with the support of 2 full-time members of staff. All projects have developed based on the needs and requests of the community and the passions and interests of our students.

As a collegiate university, each college has a volunteering rep and volunteering opportunities solely for their college. The department has 2 members of staff employed to support college volunteering, as well as departmental volunteering.

Departments tend to offer more focused opportunities for skill development aligned to the academic course, or community outreach in that chosen area – for example, Chemistry who have developed a project delivering fun chemistry sessions in local primary schools.

Team Durham Community have another 2 members of staff employed directly to deliver sport provision in the local community, utilising volunteers both from the university and community.

Sports volunteers from the university can register for a scheme that enables them to get support gaining coaching/sport specific qualifications based on their commitment to volunteering and continued personal development.

Plenty of projects

There’s lots to get involved with.

1-2-1 Tutoring Durham is Durham University’s largest educational volunteering project. They pair student volunteers with local school pupils to enhance their academic opportunities.

For adults looking for company or living alone, Generations together is a great way for the elderly community of Durham to mix socially with students. Two of our students visit you at home at times arranged to suit everyone. They also run a telephone befriending service and a pen-pal scheme with care homes.

Team Durham Holiday Camps provide fun-filled, active school holiday schemes where young people can spend their day being active, learning new skills and making new friends while parents and carers are at work. Team Durham currently host a number of regular Junior Sports Clubs across a number of sports.

And DUSVO Bakes is a project which aims to bake free birthday cakes for families who struggle to provide one for their child.

Not just students

Durham University itself operates an employer-supported volunteering scheme, enabling staff members to volunteer for up to 35 hours per year during work time.

Staff can choose their own volunteering activity or join one of the many opportunities offered by the staff volunteering team.

Many departments organise team challenges to volunteer together as a workforce, giving much needed hands-on support to many organisations.

The entire department oversees the policies, procedures, training, and governance of all volunteering activity that goes on around the university.

Across the board, DUVO works with nearly 200 charities and community organisations in addition to offering services to North East schools and hundreds of individuals.

The efforts of volunteering at Durham University has seen us hold the Investing in Volunteers accreditation for the past nine years consecutively – and we recently received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in the Community since 1989.

SUs latest Latest SUs blogs

Leave a Reply