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Supporting volunteers to make a difference

The Durham University Volunteering Awards 2020 took place in late June, to recognise staff and student volunteers and their contributions throughout the year.

Each year, over 2,000 students undertake volunteering; giving a total of almost 40,000 hours of their time. This is up from 1,000 students volunteering for a total of 14,000 hours just four years ago and earlier this month, Student Volunteering and Outreach received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award for community volunteering in the UK.

In addition, last year over 400 University staff undertook volunteering; giving over 6,000 hours of their time. The University supports staff colleagues to volunteer up to five days per year in during worktime, with full pay.

Last year was a record for how many staff volunteered, how many hours they volunteered for and the impact they had. Volunteering hours were up nearly a quarter on the previous year and the number of active staff volunteers increased by 16%.

Jennifer Smith wins Staff Volunteer of the Year

The University’s Volunteering Awards honour the best in student and staff volunteering, with this year’s awards being held remotely via Zoom and Facebook on Wednesday 24 June.

The Staff Volunteer of the Year prize went to Jennifer Smith, Instructional Design Officer here at the School, who organised hampers to be packed for distribution by the charity Feeding Families and ran a ‘wear your pyjamas to work’ day to raise money for the cause.

Jenn said: "I couldn't have done it without my amazing colleagues and students who always get involved."

Feeding Families

Professor Susan Hart, Executive Dean of the Business School, said: “I would like to congratulate Jennifer, not only for being nominated for an award but for winning! Like all volunteers, Jenn did not volunteer to get an award or any recognition, but I have to say this is very well deserved. Jenn has contributed to several initiatives over the years, with one being something the School contributes to each year. This is the Feeding Families initiative, which supports families in need at Christmas, and was first brought to my attention in 2017 when Jenn decided to share her idea with the whole School.

Jenn was overwhelmed with the number of people in the School that wanted to support this worthy cause, providing 17 hampers in the first year of supporting this charity. Following the success of the initiative in 2017, Jenn decided to contact the Staff Volunteering and Outreach (SVO) team to open this up to the whole University. Since then, the University have continued to support Feeding Families and have exceeded expectations each year.”

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