Read the email that made my day! Student Volunteering Week 23 February – 1 March 2015

I received a lovely email this morning telling me I’d been nominated for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award by Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative (SCFI). Although I wasn’t shortlisted it was a great surprise and brilliant that they took the time to prepare a nomination especially when I know how busy they are.

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Since I started volunteering with SCFI l’ve met some lovely people, improved my knowledge (especially of social media) and attended a marketing training course specifically targeted at charities. I can definitely recommend volunteering and whether you’re a student or not, there are loads of opportunities available to use the skills you already have, to gain new ones, or to help others and just have fun.

Good luck to the five shortlisted finalists; Conor, Gary, Harriette, Henry and Simon. http://www.studentvolunteeringweek.org.uk

If you are thinking of volunteering and live in West Lancashire, don’t hesitate, contact: http://www.wlcvs.org (who helped me) or elsewhere in the UK https://do-it.org


…………………..Here is the email that made my day!.………………..

Hello Valerie,

Congratulations! You were nominated for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award! The Award is run by Student Volunteering Week, an annual, nationwide campaign that celebrates students like you all over the country and inspires many more students to get involved in social action.

Unfortunately you were not selected by our panel of judges to be shortlisted for the Award, although being nominated is a fantastic achievement and a sign that you deserve to be recognised for your commitment to making a positive impact in your community. We’ve included your nomination at the end of this email so that you can find out who nominated you and why they thought you deserved to be recognised.

We’ll be presenting the Award to the winner today at a special Parliamentary Celebration in the House of Commons in London. 

Congratulations again on your nomination, and all the best as your social action journey continues!

The Student Volunteering Week team


  • Please describe the nominee’s volunteering activity. How have they demonstrated passion and commitment? Who has benefitted from their volunteering? Describe their positive social impact.
    “Val has committed herself to working with us in terms of developing a cohesive approach to our social media. As a small charity her commitment to us is invaluable as she brings with her not only passion and enthusiasm but real skills both in nutrition and social media knowledge. I cannot praise her commitment to us enough.”
  • Please tell us what you think makes this student an inspiring volunteer.
    “Val is giving her time freely and without any cost to us either on a monetary or time basis to us. Val comes prepared for every interaction she has with staff and fellow volunteers and we have found her extremely efficient in her dealings with us. She has worked autonomously and with great purpose in her own time

Nominator: Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative


Volunteering in Tanzania

As I mentioned in my earlier post ‘following in his mother’s footsteps‘ I had two amazing weeks in 2010 volunteering in a nursery school and orphanage organised by the charity Art in Tanzania and the travel company ‘i to i travel‘.

It was an experience I’ll never forget. Travelling on my own to Africa was my first challenge, living in a volunteer house, sleeping in a bunk bed and sharing a room with 3 other students was different, to say the least!

Each morning we walked for an hour to Chem Chem nursery where we spent the morning teaching English (mainly the alphabet and numbers 1 – 10). Then we walked back again in the blistering heat and then to the orphanage in the afternoon to play with the children. It was both exhilarating and exhausting and all the children were adorable.

It was fascinating to learn about the culture, and living on a diet of mainly rice and beans, with some fresh fruit and occasionally goat was a new experience for me. The abundance of food in the UK, our culture of eating out and consuming bigger portion sizes contrasted enormously with my experiences in Tanzania. The phrase ‘living to eat or eating to live’ illustrates the stark differences between the two places and I would definitely encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and volunteer abroad if they get the chance. Learning about a different culture, understanding their nutritional challenges and experiencing a very different diet first hand, was invaluable and something I’ll never forget.

When I’d booked my trip I discovered that the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon was being held whilst I was there, and decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I registered. On race day the atmosphere, the scenery and the people were all amazing and despite the heat I managed to run most of the way and was so proud to get my medal at the end.

The whole trip was truly memorable and I hope my son Matt who’s volunteering in Ghana is loving his experience too.
Enjoy the photo’s.