Cabinet Minster visits KeeleSU volunteer department

Posted on 27 February 2015

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has visited the KeeleSU Volunteering department to learn more about their experiences of being the only university with Volunteer Centre branch status.

KeeleSU’s partnership with Support Staffordshire (a service for voluntary and community organisations in Staffordshire) has enabled Keele to become the first university in the country to have Volunteer Centre status, which has been held for the last two years. This has not only increased opportunities for students to engage in volunteering, but it has also improved the recording practices of the department.

During the visit, Francis Maude spoke to students from various societies and student led services, including Street Team and Nightline, to find out about their experiences of volunteering at Keele and how the Volunteering department has helped them. One international student volunteer, Phat Nguyen, explained how much he valued his volunteering experience and how it helped him to find friends.

Francis was also interviewed by Concourse, the student newspaper at Keele, about a range of Volunteering questions and possible issues. When asked by Natalie Ilsley, Editor of Concourse, about why students should volunteer, Mr Maude explained that “it makes you a better person”. He went on to suggest that starting volunteering when you’re young helps to build a stronger society with an understanding that we need to do more for each other. “People are happier, older volunteers are healthier and more independent, it’s fun, what’s not to like?” The Concourse Editor also asked how Mr Maude planned to get more institutions involved in National Student Volunteer Week, and whilst he didn’t have a plan, he did explain that it was a “good idea and a good challenge”.

KeeleSU Volunteering has achieved fantastic results in short period of time, such as:

• A 600% increase in the amount of students getting involved in the Volunteer Awards Scheme in the last 18 months. This has resulted in more students having a more detailed Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), which reflects personal and academic development which could improve students’ employability and prospects after Keele
• Over 800 students on the Volunteer mailing list with around 600 registered with the department
• If you translate the number of hours that student volunteers have done in and around the local community in 2013-14, based on minimum wage, it equates to at least £50,000 being put back into the economy, and also helps to tackle typical student stereotypes
• Collaboration with community stakeholders to engage in student social action and making a noticeable difference in the local community

Sarah Amphlett, Volunteer Manager, says:  “We are so very pleased that the KeeleSU Volunteering department has been visited by such a prominent member of the government. We may only be a small team, but we're dedicated and very active in the local community. This will put us on the map as being the first University with Volunteer Centre status, something we are extremely proud of!”