Sheffield students dedicate 36,000 hours volunteering in the local community

Dedicated students from the University of Sheffield have spent 36,621 hours volunteering to help the local community over the past 12 months.

Students outside SU
  • Dedicated students from the University of Sheffield have raised over £130,000 and volunteered a record-breaking 36,000 hours in the local community over the past 12 months
  • More than 1,800 students volunteered at charities and organisations across the city including food banks, community allotments, supporting young people with mental health problems, working with refugees and helping older people
  • Students have clocked up enough volunteering hours to fly around the world 871 times, watch the entire box set of Friends 416 times, or the equivalent of working a 9-5 job for over 17 years
  • It is the most amount of time that students at the University of Sheffield have ever spent volunteering in a single year

Dedicated students from the University of Sheffield have spent 36,621 hours volunteering to help the local community over the past 12 months.

At a time when businesses and charities have felt the impact of the cost of living crisis, 1,849 students from the University of Sheffield have raised over £130,000 for 180 local charities.

The students also volunteered at food banks, community allotments and worked with refugees, adults with learning disabilities, school children and the elderly.

Action Tutoring - an initiative to support school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds - is just one of the organisations where students have volunteered over the past year. 

Susannah Hardyman, Founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, said: “In Sheffield, only 56 per cent of pupils who took their SATs exams at the end of year 6 this year met the expected standard in reading, writing, and maths (combined) as compared to 59 per cent nationally. With the national attainment gap between free school meal children and their wealthier peers at both primary and secondary levels at its widest in a decade, we are grateful to student volunteers at the University of Sheffield who step up to tutor pupils facing disadvantage in order to help improve their grades, increase their confidence and increase their life chances. Pupils report that student volunteers are fantastic tutors and role models."

Disruption to learning in school caused by the pandemic affected pupils from low-income backgrounds the hardest, as they cannot afford private tutoring and are unlikely to have access to tools and resources to catch up. 

Volunteers from the University of Sheffield stepped up to fill that gap in local communities to provide that additional academic support.

Abi Pearson, a Psychology student who won a volunteering award from Action Tutoring for her dedication and exemplary service to young people, said: “I really love getting to see how my students develop each week and apply their new skills as I find it to be very rewarding. Tutoring doesn’t only mean supporting them academically, but it can help them develop and thrive emotionally too. 

“Giving one hour of my week to help a few more people to do this is something I find to benefit my own well-being too.”

The biggest volunteering fundraising initiative of the year was Bummit, the Student Union’s charity hitchhike. It saw 100 students hitchhike from Sheffield to Ljubljana in Slovenia, raising over £30,000 which was split across three local charities: The Snowdrop Project; Emmaus Sheffield; Sparkle Sheffield.

This year, Raising and Giving (RAG) challenged 38 students to abseil 160ft down the side of Sheffield’s iconic Owen building in aid of the three charities. Collectively, Bummit Committee and RAG raised over £100,000 for good causes this year, an increase of £15,000 on 2021-22.

Students from MatSoc, the student society for the Materials Science and Engineering department, launched a new project to raise aspirations for primary school pupils. The volunteers ran a five-week afterschool science club, with each session focused on different materials, and became positive role models for children who do not often have the opportunity to interact with university students.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "Volunteering gives our students the opportunity to make a real and long-lasting impact in the city and region through sharing their time, skills and enthusiasm.

"Dedicating more than 36,000 volunteering hours to support local schools, charities and businesses shows the pride our students have in being part of the Sheffield community. 

"I would like to thank all of our student volunteers for their important contributions and for making a difference to people's lives."

Sheffield Students’ Union President Lily Byrne, said: “Every year our student community changes, and each time more and more students choose to share their experiences and skills in order to give back to the community. I’m proud to be part of such a group of incredible people, who have such a diverse range of skills and choose to use these to make a positive difference to people’s lives in this city!”

More information about student volunteering can be found on the Sheffield Volunteering Website.