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Students to swap beachwear for high viz this summer

With holiday getaways on hold for many, new research has identified that most students want to ‘do their bit’ and volunteer this summer.

The findings from the charity Royal Voluntary Service identified that 70 per cent of students aged 18-24 plan to spend their summer break volunteering for schemes such as NHS Volunteer Responders.

Many want to help with the vaccination drive to get life back to normal. Of those planning to volunteer, 95 per cent of students are open to getting stuck in on the frontline at vaccination sites over the next few weeks. New recruits will join the nearly 10,000 Steward Volunteers aged 18-25 who have signed up since January.

More than a third of students (34 per cent) believe volunteering will give them the sense of purpose they are lacking and 1 in 3 (35 per cent) want to ‘give back’ after what has been an incredibly difficult year for the country.

On the back of the findings the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, delivered by Royal Voluntary Service and GoodSAM on behalf of NHS England, is calling for students to step forward and help at vaccination sites as Steward Volunteers in their local area. Anyone looking to apply can head to NHSVolunteerResponders.org.uk.  Steward Volunteers support with the efficient and safe movement of patients through vaccination sites, ensuring that social distancing measures are in place and identifying people who require additional support.

As well as supporting the vital vaccination effort, the research claims almost half (47 per cent) of students felt that choosing to volunteer in their summer holiday would provide them with useful and valuable experience. The mutual benefits of volunteering were highlighted in a recent report by Royal Voluntary Service and Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery which credits volunteering with improving job prospects for over half, helping 1 in 3 young volunteers (16-19) get their first job.

Shavaiz Mir, 21, Chemical Engineering Student at Imperial College London. He signed up to become a Steward Volunteer when his lectures went online and he had more time on his hands.

Shavaiz said “Virtual lectures have meant that students like myself have more time on our hands and I wanted to use this time for good. I have so far completed four stewarding shifts at London vaccination sites and have loved each one. It’s super sociable and I have made great friends in the process. Anyone looking for something to give them purpose during their summer break should 100% sign up and give volunteering a try.”

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive at Royal Voluntary Service said “It’s great that students and other young people are now able to get their first dose – and by volunteering over the summer they can help the NHS protect many others too.

Feedback from those who have stepped forward already has been fantastic, with people saying it has boosted their CV as well as being a great way to make friends. If you want to join the team making history and spend your summer doing something both fun and worthwhile, don’t hesitate to join our team at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk.”

Curtis Pritchard (25) who recently volunteered at a vaccination site with brother AJ said: “Having seen first-hand how rewarding and how much fun it is to volunteer at a vaccination site, I can’t recommend it enough. Especially to students who have time to spare this summer, you have the chance be part of something incredible and to join the team helping to get life back to normal. Sign up to support the rollout this summer, you won’t regret it.”

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