Volunteer Voice: Royal Holloway University

12033224_10153488719887530_2933176886519740249_nAt Royal Holloway, University of London, the Community Action program helps create an active volunteering culture through the college and local community. Working with partners such as Thames21, the Student and International teams lead many projects throughout the year in which we strongly encourage all students to get involved in to help make their time at Royal Holloway more fulfilling and to help make a difference to their university and the surrounding area.

This year was the first year Community Action has partnered with Thames21. The induction session, which ran on Make A Difference Day at Staines-upon-Thames, was a wonderful success. The students worked very hard, and it was very inspiring to see the physical impact they swiftly had on the environment, whilst making it so much fun. It was especially nice to see groups of friends coming out, and first-years coming to meet people, as we fished litter from the river, banks, trees and even the ground by some very enthusiastic volunteers! Our volunteers shifted countless wheelbarrow loads of rubbish, with the help of Thames21’s own Luke Damerum, who supports our project days.

The training we undertook with Thames21 before opening this project to students was wonderfully informative, with clear reasoning behind the need to help clean up our rivers, as well as in depth knowledge as to the impacts the waste can have when left. The River Watch training session also provided us with water quality testing kits which means the volunteers can now document the health of the water.

Our partnership with Thames21 is particularly valuable as it has already allowed students to further their interest in their own subjects, such as Geography, Bioscience and Environmental Sciences, whilst gaining practical experience in cleaning up, measuring and helping to improve the health of an ecosystem.