We are launching new community spotlights this year, led by our Community and Volunteering Officer, Charlotte Colombo. These spotlights will cover some of the brilliant volunteering opportunities you can get involved with in and around Southampton alongside your studies.

Today’s spotlight is on The Art House Gallery Café, and Charlotte spoke to Devin Valentine, Coordinator at The Art House and alumni of the University of Southampton.

What is The Art House?
We are a not-for-profit community interest company on Above Bar St. We are also an ethical performance and art venue, with a vegan kitchen offering a seasonal menu of home-grown, love filled food to the local community.

What makes it different?
Our space is an inclusive, quirky bastion of creativity and misfits. We love individuality, and we love collaboration. We mainly operate with the help of a crew of volunteers, which is where you come in!

How do the volunteering roles work?
The volunteer role is split between the kitchen and café, with some niche opportunities available too in DIY and admin. In the kitchen, volunteers learn to prepare and cook our menu, and how to keep a commercial kitchen clean, sanitary and tidy. In the café, volunteers will learn how to prepare drinks, serve up food, and use the till to serve customers, as well as plenty of washing up and cleaning to keep the café pleasant.

What is it like volunteering at The Art House?
The working environment is relaxed – you won’t be expected to work in silence, and if you need to take a break for any reason you have the autonomy to do so! We are an equal opportunities organisation, which means we are more than happy to make reasonable adjustments so that anyone with learning, mobility or sensory differences can get involved.

Why should students get involved with The Art House?
People come to volunteer with us for a whole host of reasons, from wanting to embrace art more, to a desire to meet more like-minded individuals, all whilst learning valuable, practical and externally applicable skills. Volunteering with us is a great way to become integrated with the community of Southampton – I used to be a student at the University of Southampton myself, so I know that it can become quite an isolated experience in the campus bubble. You never really know what’s going to happen next at The Art House, what opportunities might crop up because of the connections you make here – getting involved is certainly the best step I ever made, and I’ve made friendships for life here.

How will it fit in with University commitments?
If you’re worried that volunteering won’t fit in with University commitments, fear not – our volunteer rota is very flexible. We generally ask that you volunteer at least once a month, and the shifts tend to be 4 hours long at different, negotiable times of the day from 09:00 to 22:00.

Great! What next?
If you are interested, please follow this link to apply: thearthousesouthampton.org/volunteer/

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