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Memorable year for student volunteers

23 April 2008

Dr Grant, Sam Smith, Allyn Davis and Dr Gibbons

Student volunteers have celebrated a remarkable year which has seen national recognition for their work helping hundreds of people in local communities.

Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Social Justice and Local Government Dr Brian Gibbons attended the annual awards ceremony for Students Volunteering Cardiff (SVC). More than 60 student volunteers received certificates from the Vice-Chancellor Dr David Grant, for their work in organising community projects.

SVC is one of the largest student volunteering organisations in the UK with some 1,000 students giving their time to more than 40 projects in and around Cardiff. These include projects for children, the homeless, the mentally ill, young people with a learning disability, the elderly and the environment. The contribution to the local economy is estimated to be worth in excess of £750,000.

Projects include Weekenders, in which students take children who care for a parent or a sibling for a day out away from their responsibilities. The project is now in its third year and has grown to involve 30 children a month aged 8 to 14 going on trips including ice skating, bowling and rock climbing. Martin Engel, one of the organisers, said: "The children all have a lot of responsibility and less free time than other children their age. They really enjoy the days out and return to their families reactivated."

The past year has seen SVC recognised as the first student volunteering organisation in the country recognised with the national Investing in Volunteers standard. SVC Chair Sam Smith, studying for an MSc in Sustainable Energy and Environment, won the ‘Young Leader’ prize at the recent Leading Wales Awards 2008.

Dr Gibbons told the volunteers: "I am always amazed at the contribution which young volunteers make in Wales and with over 1,000 volunteers, Student Volunteering Cardiff really is showing the way. You provide an invaluable service to people and communities in Cardiff. I am pleased that your efforts are being recognised and wish you continued success for the future."

Among the award-winners was SVC Vice-Chair Allyn Davis, who has spent three years co-ordinating an after-school club in Cathays. He said: "It has been such a rewarding experience, very challenging at times. But it is the times when we come back from breaks, and we see their excitement, and how much they have missed us over the holidays, that all the hard work pays back in dividends."

Sam Smith said: "I have been fortunate to work alongside a fantastic team and see at first hand some of the benefits the projects have in the community of Cardiff."