Oxford offers so many different ways to get involved no matter what your cause or passion and the amazing friends you’ll make along the way mean that the time spent volunteering will be one of your best experiences at university.
Working in the Community
Oxford Student Union (Oxford SU)
If you’re looking to do volunteering but don’t know where to start, have a look at Oxford SU’s Volunteering Portal. There you will see opportunities from charities, community groups, and other organisation which you can sign up for. Once you start volunteering you can log the hours you volunteer and the skills your gain along the way, which all go towards milestone awards. When it comes time for you to start thinking about your CV and job, you can download a report as evidence of all the volunteering you’ve done to show to potential employers.
Oxford SU also has a number of initiatives to help you get involved in your local community:
If you’re passionate about fundraising for charity, the SU’s Raise and Give (RAG) is the place to go. RAG is the group that has it all – hitch hikes, sports tournaments, talent shows, street collections and the prestigious RAG Ball. All the money raised goes to four charities elected by students each February. Charities that have been chosen to benefit from RAG include Oxfordshire Mind, Keen Oxford, Meningitis Now, and Beat Eating Disorders.
If you’re interested in access work then Target Schools is the group for you. Target Schools run four shadowing days for sixth form students to experience ‘a day in the life of an Oxford student’ with an Oxford undergraduate. All safeguarding training is provided and you can take part in as many or few days as you can.
Do you have a passion for radio presenting, technical support, or journalism? Oxford SU has a recording studio which is home to the SU radio station Oxide. You can sign up to present a show or join the committee. If journalism is your thing, you could become an editor or writer for the long running (since 1991) newspaper the Oxford Student - which produces a new issue every week of term and is sent to all Oxford colleges.
There are positions available in all of Oxford SU’s campaigns; LGBTQ+, Disabilities, Women’s, Class Act, International Students, Suspended Students, and Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE). The campaigns organise research projects, do lobbying, and are the community hub for the students they represent. All the campaigns can be found online.
If you want to get involved in the democratic running of Oxford SU, you could run to be the Chair of Council and oversee the fortnightly Student Council meetings which make SU policy, hold Sabbatical Officers to account, and discuss the most important issues facing students at Oxford. Alternatively you could run to be an Oxford SU Returning Officer and look after the Annual Elections which see over 20% of the Oxford student population participating to choose the leadership of Oxford SU. There are many other opportunities including Elections Committee, Scrutiny Committee, and Steering Committee, which all work to ensure Oxford SU is working for its members.
If you have an idea which doesn’t fit into something Oxford SU currently does, they can still support you and help you make it a reality. SU Projects are proposals to Student Council which receive staff support, space on the SU website, and a start-up fund. Check out the SU Projects page to submit your idea.
Oxgrow and the Hogacre Community Cafe
Oxgrow is a community food growing initiative built on the site of a former college playing ground. Oxgrow now acts as giant community allotment, maintained by volunteers from both the student and permanent resident community. Oxgrow enables volunteers to learn more about food growing and to increase the amount of food grown locally in Oxford City. In 2013 a group of student volunteers also worked to redevelop a disused pavilion on the site into a community cafe to serve the local community and to generate income for Oxgrow and the rest of the Hogacre site.
Oxford Hub aims to make Oxford a better, more equal place for everyone. It’s the centre for local student volunteering as they run such a wide range of volunteering programmes. For example, you can support local young people with their school work, give English Language support to Oxford residents, work at a non-profit refill shop that reduces plastic waste, and much more. If there isn't something that's right for you, Oxford Hub can help you set up a new project too. To find out more and get involved, check out their website, sign up to their newsletter or visit in person at 36 Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HU. Read about two of their programmes below:
Educational attainment in Oxford schools often falls below the national average, so many children don’t reach their academic potential despite there being a top university on the doorstep. Join over 150 students tackling this by volunteering with School Plus! Give rewarding 1-to-1 support for state school pupils aged 7-18 in an academic subject you feel comfortable in.
OxUnboxed is tackling the plastic problem together one packet at a time, helping to keep Oxford, the world and its oceans clearer of plastic waste! OxUnboxed is a non-profit refill shop where people bring in their own containers to buy their food, drink, household items and more without being wrapped in single-use plastic. Join the OxUnboxed team behind the counter by volunteering with them at 36 Little Clarendon Street.
Work-based student volunteering
Get real-world client work experience on Oxford Careers Service’s programmes
The Oxford Strategy Challenge
The Oxford Strategy Challenge provides Oxford students with real-world client work experience and development opportunities across eight key employment skills: team working, communication, initiative, creativity, planning, leadership, self-management and business awareness.
On the programme, you also have the opportunity to develop skills in working effectively as part of a remote team, managing a client relationship, collecting data under time pressure, reacting quickly to unexpected changes, and summarising and presenting your findings to a client.
The Student Consultancy
Once you have successfully completed the Oxford Strategy Challenge, you can sign up for The Student Consultancy. This 4 to 6-week programme invites past Oxford Strategy Challenge participants to address a strategic issue or business challenge for a client organisation, and allows them to gain more in-depth consulting experience.
The Micro-Internship Programme
The Micro-Internship Programme provides Oxford students with convenient, short-term learning and development opportunities based in the UK and beyond. The programme offers a large volume of placements in a variety of employability sectors, and take place in the vacation periods. Micro-internships are voluntary, full time work experiences that last between two and five days.
Oxford Legal Assistance (OLA)
Oxford Legal Assistance (OLA) is the first pro bono programme at the University of Oxford open to undergraduates as well as the University's first programme involving practical legal work for the benefit of people living in the local area. OLA co-ordinates a range of projects with Turpin and Miller, a local legal aid law firm, and the Oxford Citizens Advice Bureau where second year Oxford Law undergraduates can both develop their practical legal skills and help the local community.