The QHackney project – a unique volunteering experience!

Catherine Bailey, 2nd year LLB student

Over the past 5 months, QProjects has teamed up with Hackney Volunteer Centre to offer Queen Mary students a unique chance to undertake a 3 month placement at a small but growing Hackney-based charity. The organisations were selected due to their need for a student to come and aid the life-changing work they were doing – these leaders are ones of great enthusiasm and ideas, but in many cases just too much on their plate, many with a staff of only 1!

That’s where we stepped in. Selected through a competitive (but not intimidating) interview process, 10 students were then placed with 10 charities to each complete 12 days of voluntary work, though this could be scheduled as suited both across the 3 months. This flexibility meant this type of placement was ideal for many students with deadlines to consider.

I was tasked with documenting the project to evaluate its success, and I can report they were many. Students had the opportunity to receive valuable training in areas such as writing funding applications from Hackney Centre for Voluntary Services – an area which none had previously encountered, but are now able to teach others about! Students said that this type of training, as well as the other work completed on placement, opened their eyes to the charity sector, with some now considering these careers post-graduation.

Equally valuable would have to be the transferable skills the students picked up, with many saying taking such an important role in a small organisation had improved their communication and organisation, as well as the more specific skills such as ability to understand and create funding applications. During the end of project celebration day at T Rowe Price, a leading city Finance company, they then gained important advice regarding displaying this on a CV, and inspired us with pitches (with help from the experts) about what they had gained from the experience. The workshop was a thoroughly enjoyed celebration of the project, and also provided a chance to network (investment bankers aren’t as scary as I’d imagined!)

But above all, the real success of QHackney was revealed in student testimony of the interesting and eye-opening nature of their placements. Through the training and peer support sessions I have met new friends and many have formed great relationships with their charity leaders, some opting to carry on their placement even though the project has ended. All that is left is to say a big thank you to everyone involved!

To get involved in QProjects and add valuable work experience to your CV, see here.

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