Kind-hearted Sheffield students give up their time

A member of The University of Sheffield History Society at a tea party
A member of The University of Sheffield History Society at a tea party
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Students in Sheffield dedicated more than 30,000 hours to forging links with the local community last year.

Figures from The University of Sheffield reveal more undergraduates than ever are taking part in volunteering schemes designed to benefit people across the city.

A total of 1,671 students, and staff from 66 departments, took part in everything from sports clubs to arts projects organised by the Volunteering Society.

Around 200 charities and organisations and 78 neighbourhoods have benefited from the work, and the total amount of time given to volunteering schemes was 32,296 hours - a rise of 23.7 per cent on last year.

Mathematics student Noni Bryson, aged 21, chairwoman of the volunteering committee, said: “Volunteering is really flexible and easy to fit in around your studies. I’ve been involved since I started university.

“You enjoy it so much you don’t realise that you’ve made a difference until people or parents come up and thank you afterwards.

“Most of the time you just think of volunteering as a good day out. I come from near Manchester but I’ve been in Sheffield for two years now.

“Sometimes students don’t always feel like part of the rest of the city.

“Volunteering makes me feel like I am giving something back to Sheffield, not just like being a student on the outskirts of everything.”

Some of the most successful schemes have been the Clubbing Crew which gives adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities the chance to go clubbing at a Sheffield Students’ Union night, and the SingSoc Challenge, which invites schoolchildren to immerse themselves in opera for a day. This year they then performed ‘Dido and Aeneas’ for an audience of parents and teachers.

Primary schools also received a visit from the English Society’s Word Club, which got youngsters to take part in specially-designed games such as ‘synonym snakes’ and ‘onomatopoeia theatre’ to appeal to different learning styles.

The History Society’s reminiscing tea parties, designed to invoke nostalgia in the retired residents of Sheffield, have also been praised for bringing older and younger generations together.

Students can choose to give as much or as little time to helping others as they like, but with a minimum commitment of one hour every month.

The number of international students who are signing up for schemes has also increased, with 23 per cent of volunteers coming from overseas in the last academic year.

As well as building bridges with local communities, the projects are celebrating Sheffield’s multi-culturalism.

Football for Friendship, a one-day tournament, brought together students and young asylum seekers who have little access to leisure and sporting opportunities.