Press Office


Student volunteering boosts communities


Newcastle University students work hard to help promote strong and vibrant communities through volunteering in the places where they live and study.

In the last year alone Newcastle students have contributed 43,000 hours of their time to community volunteering projects, giving a social return of £645,000. And fundraising during RAG week by 19 of its societies raised £30,000 for good causes, both locally and nationally.

Student Community Action Newcastle (SCAN) recruited over 1,000 new student volunteers to work on various programmes and the group works with 75 local organisations to match up students with volunteering opportunities.

One of the projects which SCAN have been involved with is Guerrilla Gardening. Students work with communities to identify their needs, and how they would want to see the land in their area used most effectively. So far they have worked on projects including a community garden and allotment in the West End of Newcastle, the regeneration of a wild space in Byker and the development of an allotment for use by people with learning disabilities.

Another project which Newcastle University students have boosted is the mobile internet training café. This is aimed at the Over 60s, with laptops and mobile wi-fi dongles taken out to day centres, helping train them to use computers and the internet. Training could take in BBC iPlayer, Google image sand maps, internet shopping and YouTube.

Calum Mackenzie, president of the Newcastle University Students Union said: “People are often not aware of the really positive contribution students can make to the local community.  Many of our students are committed to helping their adopted communities and they get involved in lots of volunteering which really helps the city.”

Joyce McCarty, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council said: “I am really impressed by the contribution that students make in the City.  The number of hours of volunteering they do is simply fantastic and they are a credit to their families.  I am proud of all they achieve while they live in our wonderful City.”

Professor Ella Ritchie, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Newcastle University, said: “Our students have put in tremendous work over the past twelve months. From raising money for good causes, to organising activities to vulnerable people, they are making a real difference to people’s lives. 

“Through the vast array of volunteering opportunities the University and the Students’ Union offer we are also helping our students to develop new skills and qualities that can complement their academic qualifications.”

published on: 16 October 2013