Keele students volunteer over 11,000 hours to help local community during the pandemic

More than 1,000 Keele University students have collectively donated over 11,000 hours of their time within the last academic year to support charities and their fellow Keele students, and to help local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout the last year, Keele students have continued to volunteer their time to help charities across the country and have demonstrated their commitment, resilience, and willingness to support others, even during a national crisis.

Keele students have offered their services to organisations such as St John Ambulance, the Samaritans, the Alzheimer’s Society, and The Gingerbread Centre, carrying out a number of activities ranging from helping on mental health support lines and delivering meals on wheels, to volunteering on the frontline by helping at Covid testing sites and supporting at Covid-19 vaccination centres.

Several students have also used their technological skills to help charities and organisations adapt to the rapidly changing ways of working due to lockdown. Keele students enabled charities to swiftly adapt their services and reach their service users online, as well as supporting them with marketing and social media activity.

Erin Sohnrey, a second-year Human Resource Management and International Business student, has carried out nearly 500 hours so far in her work with St John Ambulance. Erin has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic at the Royal Stoke University Hospital assisting patients accessing emergency services as well as directly enabling patients to maintain communication with their relatives who were unable to visit at the hospital due to Covid restrictions.

Erin said: “Volunteering has been the best and most rewarding experience of my life and has changed the way I look at the world, at people, and at everyday life. It has changed the way I feel about myself and about decisions I have made and must make in the future.

“Through volunteering I have felt so much more connected to my community and the people around me, and I have found myself a new family. Every evening I can go to bed feeling like I have helped someone and made a positive difference to someone’s life.”

Prior to the second national lockdown, the Keele University Students’ Union recruited four students on a voluntary basis to support their peers in connecting and maintaining a feeling of belonging to the Keele community. The team, who have recently and collectively won the KeeleSU “Volunteer of the Month” award, host and plan online social events for their peers including quizzes and games nights, cookery sessions, wellbeing support, informal drop-ins, and watch parties.

Sarah Giannakopoulos, Student Volunteering Coordinator at KeeleSU, said: “KeeleSU are immensely proud of our Keele student volunteers. They have never faltered in their commitment to help others in the community.

“Often in the face of negative press about students across the country, they showed resilience and outstanding caring qualities. They are role models for young people and true ambassadors for the University, deserving of the highest accolades.”

The Keele University Students’ Union offers students a wide range of volunteering opportunities to help students help others whilst also learning new skills, building confidence and boosting their employability.