Posted on 12 June 2020
The 1-7 June 2020 marked National Volunteers Week and the Department is proud to announce that two of our second year Social Work students, Emily Bray and Brianna Parker, and Nikhita Kataria a first year Social Policy student, have all become Student Volunteering Award Winners.
Emily undertook the volunteering as part of her community placement and decided to volunteer with York Carers Centre as she was interested in their diverse service and opportunities, and wanted to learn more about unpaid carers due to them being a relatively hidden, but hugely important population within York and the UK. The organisations values resonated with Emily due to her interest in social justice, and with the carers centre wanting to ensure that unpaid carers are valued, supported and not prejudiced by their role. She organised and attended social groups, was involved in the one-to-one befriending and listening service, and attended hubs within the community. She spent a large amount of time in the substance misuse service, an area she had little experience of, and gained valuable skills from conducting research and broadening her knowledge. Emily said of her experience, "My voluntary placement at York Carers Centre gave me an opportunity to put my teaching into practice, learn new skills and immerse myself within the organisation. I would recommend volunteering to all students, within or outside of a degree programme, it was a fantastic experience!"
Polly Sykes the Department's Social Work Placements Coordinator said, "It is wonderful to learn that Emily and Brianna's hard work with the Carers Centre in York has been recognised with this award. Emily and Brianna are in our first cohort of Social Work (MSocW) students, who have all undertaken work experience in the community as part of their course. They both chose to work with the Carers Centre, which has given them the opportunity to put their skills to work with a wide variety of people. They have clearly made good use of their time with the organisation!"
Nikhita is a first year undergraduate studying Applied Social Science, who chose the course to complement her interest around social injustices, such as child poverty. Growing up Nikhita didn't know any other young people who were hard of hearing like herself, and volunteering gave her more confidence to be herself around people who have had similar experiences. Nikhita volunteered at Lollipop, a York-based charity that offers support and opportunities for children, young people and their families with any degree of deafness. At Lollipop she was a Deaf Mentor, learning British Sign Language, and she supported the youth group at both drop-in sessions and through external activities. During lockdown, Nikhita contributed by fundraising, participating in online sessions with the youth group and writing blogs for the website. Nikhita said of her experience, "I started volunteering when I was 13 years old and since then have participated in a range of volunteer opportunities. It is a great way to develop skills, meet new people and make a difference." Nikhita feels that volunteering allows students to practically apply theory to a real-world setting, and in the future she would like to pursue a career in the not-for-profit sector.
Congratulations once again to Emily, Brianna and Nikhita for all your hard work.