Student volunteers can offer “transformative” support
Published on 30 January 2023
Working with some of the city’s most disadvantaged young people could help to transform the futures of University of Dundee students, a local charity has said.
Gail Thomson, Volunteer Co-ordinator of local charity BeFriends, says that the diverse background of students means they are ideal candidates to provide one-to-one befriending support to young people experiencing difficulties in their lives.
BeFriends is just one local organisation who will be providing volunteering opportunities when the University hosts its annual Volunteering and Work Experience Fair. The event takes place at Dundee University Students' Association on Wednesday 1 February, with students able to meet with the groups offering them the chance to get involved with their work.
Based within Stobswell Parish Church, BeFriends assists dozens of young people throughout Dundee, providing befriending support and a source of social engagement.
“Our work is entirely dependent upon volunteers,” said Gail.
“Students can be ideal befrienders because they come from a variety of backgrounds and have a host of life experience to share with our young people. They can bring tremendous energy to the role, as well as offering empathy and understanding through the provision of a listening ear.
“The support our volunteers provide can be transformative for the health and wellbeing of the young people we assist, many who are vulnerable or experiencing a range of issues and hardship. Few things can beat the feeling of bringing smiles to the faces of the people with whom we work, which is why volunteering with BeFriends is both fun and hugely rewarding.
“Befriending is also a huge responsibility, but this, along with the skills that you learn in the role, means that it is an ideal way for a student to grow their CV.”
The Volunteering and Work Experience Fair showcases a host of local organisations and charities that can benefit from the support of students. Work placement and foreign and summer job opportunities will also be available at the event.
With many employers seeking real-world experience from prospective recruits, Mark McCabe, from the University’s Careers Service, said that the event is a great launchpad for students looking to equip themselves for their future.
“Employers are always looking for motivated, dynamic new recruits, and volunteering is a fantastic way of demonstrating this on a CV,” he said.
“Our students are also a great fit for charities such as BeFriends, as many have flexible study schedules and come from a variety of backgrounds, meaning they have so many experiences to share.
“As well as helping to develop skills that can be used in the workplace, volunteering can be a hugely satisfying experience for our students. By giving just a little time to charities such as BeFriends, they can support valuable work in their community while preparing themselves for life after university.”
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