There are many opportunities to get involved in charitable fundraising, community outreach and social advocacy at Oxford. If you’re keen to get involved, the Oxford Hub is an organisation that works to connect students with causes they care about. The Hub is responsible for a wide range of causes, so you can find volunteering opportunities that appeal to you, whether that’s working with special needs children or growing vegetables in a community garden. Oxford Raise and Give (RAG) is the charitable fundraising campaign which runs lots of brilliant events to raise money for its student-elected charities. Raising money for charity could involve going on a blind date with another student on Valentine’s Day or trying to get as far away from Oxford as possible within 36 hours without spending anything (that’s Jailbreak).
Schools Plus is an Oxford-based charity where students can sign up to spend a couple of hours a week helping pupils with lots of different subjects at different levels.
I decided to get involved because I want to be a teacher when I leave Oxford so I was looking to get some experience in this area. There are lots of different opportunities, but this one just appealed to me the most. It's so fun working with the kids and getting on know them throughout the project. The best bit is probably when you have a child who really struggles and suddenly they make a breakthrough - its inspiring seeing how hard they work and knowing that you played a role in getting them to understand their work.
I would recommend Schools Plus because aside from the feel- and do-good aspect of the volunteering, it's also great to get out of the centre of Oxford for a bit - it provides a little relief from the intensity of the Oxford term! It’s also very rewarding to see the pupils progress with your help.
I am a befriender with the student-led organisation Linkages, linked with the Royal Voluntary Service. After a short training session, I was matched with an elderly man, living alone in Oxford. Every Sunday, I visit him for a cup of tea and a chat.
I got involved with Linkages when I picked up a leaflet at the Oxford Hub on Turl Street, emailed the organiser and was signed up for training within a week. My best experience with Linkages happened while I was away from Oxford during the summer: I wrote a letter to my befriendee so that we could keep up our weekly communication. His reply showed true delight and gratitude, which was really satisfying.
Befriending an elderly person who would otherwise be alone is a rewarding way to spend some free time. As well as making new friends and enhancing communication skills, volunteering with Linkages provides a valuable opportunity to escape the sometimes claustrophobic “Oxford Bubble” and experience a world away from essays and tutes!
When I saw an advert for Environment and Sustainability Coordinator for the Oxford Hub, I decided to apply without really knowing much about it, which turned out to be an amazing decision that has really changed my life at Oxford for the better. My best experience so far has been running a beehive-making workshop with a local organisation, and I’m really looking forward to being involved with the Oxford Climate Forum in November 2015. I love the Hub because it’s so welcoming and multi-faceted. I’m on the committee, which is loads of hard work and fun, but there are lots of different options that let anyone who wants to make a difference in social action or environmental sustainability get involved to a greater or lesser degree. The Hub is associated with over 50 student-run groups and projects, so there’s something for almost anyone, and everyone involved is passionate and really friendly! It’s perfect for anyone who wants to be more involved with the greater Oxford community and create positive social change.
I’m involved with RAG Casino – a mobile casino, run by trained croupiers who volunteer their time in exchange for entry to balls (balls one of those fancy Oxford things which sound kinda daunting but is actually super fun and really just a big party). All the money made from hiring the casino goes to RAG (Raise And Give), the student union's charity branch. Oh, and no one actually gambles any money - every ballgoer receives 50 chips, and whoever ends with the most wins a prize!
I found out about RAG Casino at the Freshers’ Fair, went to a training session, and from then on was hooked! My best experience so far was staying up way past sunrise playing ‘who can name the most Harry Potter characters’ with another croupier, after the hugely extravagant 700th Anniversary Exeter Commemoration Ball, which we got to go to for free!
All in all, you make really good friends, learn to work a casino, get free entry to balls and help charity!