When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Volunteers' event showcases good work
12:00pm Tuesday 19th February 2013 in News
Buy this photo » Clockwise from front left, Erin Dexter, Shini Rajannan, Ruth Taylor and Sarah Brice representing groups who put students in touch with volunteer groups and, inset, Will Normington and Sarah Santhosham
THEIR selfless actions have touched countless lives from here to Africa and beyond.
And for one day, Oxford’s volunteering groups came together determined to become an even greater force for good.
The Oxford Volunteering Showcase at Oxford Town Hall welcomed hundreds of helpers, from young local carers to international action teams.
Strolling through the stalls, visitors could see how the volunteers of the city have helped those on their doorstep and in some of the world’s poorest regions.
Co-ordinators Oxford Hub and Oxford University Student Union welcomed resident-run groups and community projects.
A celebration of helping others and attempts to forge new partnerships was on the agenda. It also marked the culmination of Student Volunteering Week.
Many bright students drawn to Oxford as a centre of academic excellence have found purpose in helping the less fortunate.
Some, such as Sarah Santhosham, 22, have stayed on after graduation to dedicate their time to helping the forgotten and deprived parts of Oxford.
The Oxford University Student Union charities and community vice-president said: “I’ve done a lot of campaigning for various causes and I came to the realisation that when you bring various groups together it can have a really positive difference.
“The city council has been great helping us pull together all the different strands, and it is wonderful to see everyone here today.”
Oxford Hub officer Will Normington came to the city from Leeds.
He graduated last year and decided to change his career path and put all his energies into volunteering.
The 21-year-old Oxford resident said: “It’s the people that make it so fantastic. I’ve been lucky in my life that I haven’t had major problems with family, or health, I’ve never needed a cancer charity for example. I got involved in the Hub and got swept along.
“I decided my cause would be volunteering itself and trying to help people come together.
“Last year we helped 600 students become volunteers and want to break that figure this time around.”
Oxford resident Ruth Taylor travelled to Ghana twice to help out in schools and orphanages.
She said the experience changed her life.
The 20-year-old said: “English is widely used in Ghana so when we went over the idea was to improve literacy and standards in schools.
“That in turn will help the children become better equipped as they get older and help them when they start looking for jobs.
“It was such a special time that it really did make me focus on what is important.
“I could have graduated and gone looking for a job that would have made money but I didn’t want to do that.
“I’d rather be able to give my time to help others than have a job that takes and doesn’t give anything back.”
The Volunteering Showcase was opened by the Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage, and closed by Oxford East MP Andrew Smith.
- Oxford students have been praised for their volunteering efforts, after a rise of nearly 50 per cent in the numbers offering to help a local charity. Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action received 784 applications to volunteer from students in the past year, compared to 530 the year before.