Students, staff and alumni are celebrating a decade of International Volunteering at Leeds Beckett University.
Over the last ten years, 1,240 students and 226 staff have visited 22 countries around the world and worked on 32 projects as part of Leeds Beckett’s International Volunteering programme.
Since its inception in 2006, the programme has raised more than £150,000 for charity and given a staggering 151,629 volunteering hours to projects worldwide.
From teaching in India, sports coaching in South Africa or building playgrounds in Uganda, the International Volunteering projects have opened up a whole new world of possibilities to Leeds Beckett staff and students.
International volunteering programmes have helped students and staff to challenge themselves in experiencing different cultures as well as building resilience and gaining practical experience and giving something back.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of International Volunteering at Leeds Beckett, an event is being held at the Carnegie Pavilion on Thursday 21 April. Organised by Leeds Beckett hospitality students as part of an assessed module, the event begins with a South African drinks reception before continuing with an internationally themed menu.
Hosted by Leeds Beckett Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Smith, the event will see senior colleagues from Leeds Beckett attend alongside volunteering colleagues from the University of Leeds and Cardiff University and representatives from the British Council, in addition to charity partners such as Tibet Relief Fund, Think Pacific and East African Playgrounds.
Gareth Brown and Peace Studies graduate Sarah Kenning will be sharing their volunteering stories at the event as well as Brenda Longstaff, Head of International Partnerships at Northumbria NHS Trust & Health Education England, who has developed of Department of Health policy in support of international volunteering at Northumbria NHS Trust & Health Education England.
Gareth Brown, who graduated in 2013 from BA (Hons) Sport Business Management after volunteering in Sri Lanka as part of his studies at Leeds Beckett, explained: “I had such an incredible experience when I volunteered in Sri Lanka in January 2012. Many of the skills which I developed both in preparation and during the trip have had such a positive impact on my career and life as a whole now. It will be great to speak to the volunteering team and listen to stories from others who have also had the opportunity to complete similar trips.”
Current Leeds Beckett student and one of the event organisers, Luke Jenkins, added: “As hospitality students working as part of an events team, it has been an exciting opportunity and a great honour to help the university’s international volunteering celebrate their 10th anniversary."
Speaking about the tenth anniversary, Andrew Disbury, Director of the International Office at Leeds Beckett, said: “Reaching ten years of International Volunteering is a great excuse to bring together a diverse range of friends and partners for a celebration of this milestone. Listening to our Leeds Beckett colleagues, alumni, and current students sharing their experiences of international volunteering projects reminds us of the scale and scope of activity that have been possible in the last decade, and the impact Leeds Beckett Volunteering has been able to have on the people with whom are charity partners work, which is the most important factor. However the reflections of our volunteers past and present also remind us that there is a huge impact on the personal and professional life of the volunteer, and that volunteering can benefit the volunteer’s whole organisation too.”
Leeds Beckett first ran a volunteering project overseas during 2006, in Poland. This involved a group of 10 volunteers working at a community school to teach English and provide art therapy for a not-for-profit organisation who aided disabled members of the community. The project was established from a link with a partner university and social science lectures. The international volunteer programme expanded rapidly in 2007/2008 as 100 bursaries were provided and 12 project links were developed through a combination of faculty contacts, partner universities and alumni.
On Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April Leeds Beckett’s International Office is teaming up with Carnegie Great Outdoors and running their eighth annual abseil event down the side of Portland Building. On the Saturday more than 100 Leeds Beckett student volunteers will be abseiling in their international teams to raise money for the respective charities. Students who have accessed Leeds Beckett’s independent international volunteering bursary and members of the local community supporting local charitable groups will abseil on the Sunday.
Both days will be a fantastic challenge for staff, students and community members alike, raising much needed funds for worthy causes.