Earlier this year, we launched a new community spotlight series, led by your Community and Volunteering Officer, Charlotte Colombo. These spotlights cover some of the brilliant volunteering opportunities you can get involved with, in and around Southampton, alongside your studies.

Today’s spotlight is on Southampton Hub and Charlotte spoke with Melissa Camargo, Communications Officer at Southampton Hub.

What is Southampton Hub?

We are the Southampton based branch of charity focusing on encouraging and supporting students who want to and are passionate about making an impact on their local community.

How does Southampton Hub work, and how do students come into it?

Though a variety of projects or programmes, we enable and push for change and tackle social issues. All our students receive the training they need to fulfil their role, and they are given the opportunity to benefit themselves from this role, in terms of personal development and skills acquisition or development, and those with whom they interact on that one-to-one level, or the community at large.

What kinds of volunteering opportunities does Southampton Hub offer?

We have quite a variety of programmes, all with different focuses, but the same wider aim – to have a positive impact on our local community.

What type of audience can these volunteering opportunities appeal to?

Our range of projects means there is something to suit everyone – in terms of what they want to do, what availability they may have, what skills they want to develop.

What are the more person-centric volunteering opportunities like?

Our programmes can have a personal, intimate element to them, such as our Plus programmes, which focus on tutoring or helping young children with their work or other learning, hopefully motivating them towards a career in computing or engineering (as CodePlus and InventPlus may do).

What issues do the broader volunteering opportunities cover?

BioCycle and Local Action have a broader impact since these projects involve collecting food waste or, as our latest Local Action event did, collecting litter. We may target disadvantaged children, such as Empower and Branch Up do, which are more 1 on 1 and encourage children to look to the future, mentoring and participating in a variety of activity days.

What do current volunteers have to say about the Branch Up scheme specifically?

A previous Branch Up volunteer, interested in teaching, found this programme to be a great stepping stone to get to where she needed to be, and found the experience very enjoyable:

“You see the same children every week for Branch Up, especially as you’re paired with a child. The child I was paired with really opened up and became less shy. You can physically see the impact you’re having.”

A further volunteer has been involved in Branch Up and Schools Plus but has stuck with the former for their entire time at university.

“I initially started because I was looking at how I could be involved in social action somehow, and I came across Southampton Hub at Freshers Fayre. All the projects sounded great, but Branch Up, in particular, drew me in because of the work they do with children of disadvantaged backgrounds. At first, I didn’t think I would necessarily see that much of a difference from just helping at activity days, however, after working with them long term, I can see the difference it’s made to the children. They’re so much more confident and willing to participate. … The schools also reported that they could really see the benefit to the children and that there had been a real improvement in their home life too.”

Another scheme Southampton Hub run is called LinkAges, which aims to get students to befriend the elderly and combat loneliness. What, for volunteers, are the benefits of this scheme and Southampton Hub as a whole?

One student has been involved in LinkAges since their first year, similarly focusing on the impact you can have on people through these projects and developing your own skills at the same time.

“Southampton Hub stood out to me as it wasn’t necessarily about just raising money, but actually volunteering your time and skills to make an impact.”

“LinkAges taps into very real social problems, such as care homes lacking services for its elderly residents. We provided an opportunity for residents to have fun, whilst connecting them with other people. I feel strongly that LinkAges is filling the gap left by the government failing to provide certain provisions for services that are necessary to tackle loneliness and isolation.”

How can students get involved with these opportunities?

We open applications to everyone every semester, and this is a great way to get involved in social action, in volunteering, or even just developing your own organisational, communication, or interpersonal skills.

Can they still apply for opportunities a bit later on in the semester?

We have applications open all year for Local Action and BioCycle, two worthwhile and important projects. Local Action would require less time commitment, as we hold events every so often for this, whereas BioCycle may require weekly availability.

Great! Where can students find out more?

Check out our website southamptonhub.org/whats-on, for more information on what we do, where we do it, and why.

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