Community engagement success

Student volunteering and fundraising has exceeded all expectations this first term - with over 300 students volunteering nearly 8,000 hours and over £9,000 raised for charity. 

One of the goals for this year was to support a wide variety of charities, covering as many of the UN sustainability goals as we could. These goals are set by the UN with the aim of achieving a better and more sustainable world for everyone. These range from ‘no poverty’ to ‘quality education’ and ‘affordable and clean energy’. Through the charity fundraising and volunteering our students have done so far, we have already reached a majority of these goals, a great start to the academic year. 

Our two RAG charities this year are Hillingdon Samaritans and Wycombe Homeless Connection. Both have been extremely vocal in their appreciation of being chosen by our students and are keen to support any events that we run on campus. Representatives from both charities have already attended a Union Council and engaged our students in the fantastic work they do in our local community. We have invited them in again for next term and hope that plenty of students take the opportunity to talk to them and see how they can involved.

With volunteering the term started off well with ‘Give it a go week’ which offered students a range of experiences. This included the Brighton Beach Clean Up on a sunny Saturday in October. 17 students met with a group of Brighton University students and cleared 20 bags worth of litter from the beach. Students gave feedback after the event and they agreed that there was a lot of more plastic than they expected. This has given the Students' Union the idea to run a campaign in the next term around plastic and sustainability. Another popular activity during the week was at One Can Trust, the local foodbank. Students organised all the food donations into categories, ready to be given to individuals and families in need. Mona Gundacker wanted to continue as a regular volunteer and has since become team leader, organising weekly sessions open to all students. 


Mona Gundacker and Lauren O'Shea at the Brighton Beach Clean Up, 

Later in the month both students and staff helped to raise money for Breast Cancer Now during Wear it Pink Week. Our society and club members wore pink to their sessions, donating generously. Our sabbatical officers, with the help of students, cycled 567.1km and raised £265. It was great to see so many people getting involved and putting the miles in.  

We have seen the formation of the Guide Dogs Society this term which came from several students showing an interest in fundraising for the charity and deciding to get together to organise a formal society. We have held elections and now have a fully-fledged committee who are extremely passionate about fundraising. They plan to hold an event with the dogs next term and are in need of support from students who would also like the chance to cuddle with some dogs around exam time. Well done to the committee who have got stuck in and have already ticked off much of their society accreditation.

Georgia Nosal, Charlie Cotton and Lauren O'Shea with members of BNU Dance Club,

To lead on these fundraising events this year we are extremely lucky to have recruited Claudia Waghorne as our RAG ambassador. Claudia attended a student fundraising conference over summer at the University of the West of England and has got stuck in ever since. She has supported all of the RAG events that our students have organised including Netball club’s raffle and Dodgeball 4 RAG. Her ability to speak confidently about RAG to other students has positively impacted student engagement this year and for that we are very grateful. Our first ever RAG week this November raised £800 and has encouraged many more students to organise their own fundraisers.

To continue with the success of student fundraising this term, Lauren Robinson and Alex Cotton raised £1,000 for Movember over the month of November. Their determination and creativity encouraged many of our male students to grow moustaches in order to fundraise, and their ‘tighter and brighter’ fun run engaged many of our female students to get active in aid of Movember. They worked very well as a team and had a great presence around University for the month. We will be looking for new ambassadors for 2019 and would encourage any interested students to speak to Lauren and Alex to find out more. 


Dodgeball 4 Rag, BNU Dance performing before the tighter and brighter fun run. 

At the end of November we had over 30 attend the Big Sleepout at Adam’s Park football ground to raise money for Wycombe Homeless Connection. This event is a fantastic way to raise awareness of homelessness and fundraise for the charity. Bucks students raised over £3,300 for the charity and learnt a lot about the reality of sleeping outside during winter. The event was run really well and there was a great vibe throughout, with both students and general members of the public. We hope to support this event again next year and would love to have another big group of students.

To finish off the academic year we hosted a Christmas lunch for 15 residents of Rye View Manor in our very own venue. Claudia Waghorne was in charge of decorations and Femke Bekker of entertainment. The pair worked well together, recruiting other students to help make decorations, set up and run the whole event. Students from Musical Theatre Society and Cheer provided entertainment in the form of dancing and singing; proving very popular with our guests. The event was a huge success with our guests asking to come back again next year. A big thank you to everyone involved, it would be great to do this again in the future.


BNU Swans at the Big Sleepout, Before the christmas meal for Rye View Manor