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.
Oxford Student Union (SU)
The SU has a number of initiatives to help you get involved in your local community. From the SU Student Community Warden scheme to campaigns focusing on the environment, education and social, there is plenty to get involved in. For information about campaigns, contact the SU’s Vice-President for Charities and Community.
If you’re passionate about fundraising for charity, the SU’s Raise and Give (RAG) is the place to go. RAG is the society 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 Giving What We Can, Education Partnerships Africa, Students Supporting Street Kids and the Oxford Food Bank.
The Oxford Hub
Oxford Hub is the centre for local volunteering at Oxford. If you're looking for an opportunity to get involved in the local community, there are over 22 student-led projects to get involved in. You can support young people with their learning in local schools, help run a local sustainable food growing project, or organise activity days for young carers in Oxford city. There are opportunities to suit all interests but if there isn't something that's right for you, you can get help to set a new project up.
Oxford Hub has its own home at 16-17 Turl St, housing a cafe bar restaurant (The Turl St Kitchen), as well as a cosy lounge and events space open all day during term-time. To find out more, visit the Hub in person or online.
Working across the community
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.
It surprises many to know educational attainment in Oxford secondary schools falls well below the national average. Over 200 student volunteers work with young people in city schools to enable them to reach their full academic potential. School Plus volunteers offer one to one or small group support for pupils in a number of academic subjects as well as offering occasional one off events for visit days in specific subject areas.
Branch Up runs activity days for local children from a range of challenging backgrounds. Volunteers organise regular activity days for up to 15 children a session in term time, matching them with a dedicated mentor for the day. The initiative places a high value on one to one relationships fostered through the project, allowing the children to benefit from positive adult relationships that they may not have in other areas of their lives.
Work-based student volunteering
Oxford Student Consultancy
The Student Consultancy is a programme of learning and development activities that links students to local Oxfordshire businesses and community organisations. The programme provides employability skills training and work-based experiences to undergraduate and postgraduate students and an opportunity for local SMEs, charities and community organisations to access free consultancy services.
Students from all disciplines and year levels participate in the programme and work in teams of four to address a strategic issue or business problem affecting the organisation. Since it was started in April 2009, more than 750 students have participated in the programme and worked on over 250 projects including: Community Action Groups, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford City Council Housing, Oxfam, Pegasus Theatre and the Oxford Playhouse.
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.