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Volunteers’ Week – celebrating our learners who go the extra mile

4 June 2021

This week marks Volunteers’ Week 2021 (1st-7th June) – an opportunity to appreciate the hard work and valuable contribution of volunteers across the country and the enrichment that volunteering brings to our lives. As a college, we encourage learners and staff to volunteer for good causes. This ethos is brought to life by our inspirational learners and the projects they’re involved in alongside their studies.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Podcast

We work closely with our local health board to shape our health and care courses and curriculum to meet the needs of the community, as well as collaborating on work placements and volunteering opportunities to help learners build on their experience and knowledge. This Volunteers’ Week, Level 3 Health and Social Care learner, Marie Isaac-King, took part in a podcast interview with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s (ABUHB) Person-Centered Care and Partnership Manager, Gino Parisi, and Coleg Gwent’s Employer Engagement Advisor for the faculty of Care and Community Studies, Allison Werner, talking about her experience of volunteering at the hospital befriending older people.

Volunteering with ABUHB

Marie explained; “I started volunteering with ABUHB back in 2019 and loved it. A lot of people in hospital are so lonely and they tell me they sit on their own all the time with no one else to talk to. Some of them don’t have family members visit them for weeks and this was before the pandemic. So, going into the hospital, I used to just think ‘I’m really making a difference to someone’s life’.

I’ve definitely gained so much confidence from the experience, I can speak to anyone now. I’ve learnt how to overcome some barriers in communication too – some people are hard of hearing and I’ve learnt ways to overcome this. I’ve gained so many skills from volunteering. I really want to become a nurse at the hospital, an emergency room nurse hopefully. I feel like volunteering has given me so much useful experience for this. I would 100% recommend volunteering.”

Listen to the podcast here!

Charity of the Year

With charities struggling due to the COVID pandemic, Coleg Gwent has pledged to raise £10,000 for a local charity – St David’s Hospice Care.. Earlier this year, we took part in the Big Welsh Brew coffee morning, and the Creative and Technical Studies faculty did their own Lands’ End to John ‘O’Groats challenge last month. Now, our Enterprise and Academic Studies faculty are getting competitive and planning an ambitious challenge of their own – watch this space!

Coleg Gwent Torfaen Learning Zone and St Davids Hospice Care buildings

We’re also looking forward to events sponsored by Coleg Gwent, like the Dalmatian Bike Ride on 26 June – a fun and family-friendly cycle ride starting and finishing in Caerleon with a dalmatian-themed fancy dress. On 9th July, the Kolor Dash Cwmbran has been designed especially for us as a 5k fun run/jog/walk with a rainbow of colour, where learners and staff can volunteer on paint, glitter and foam stations, or even provide a warm-up session at the start and entertainment along the route! Then on 12 September, the Tour De Gwent kicks off, passing several of our college campuses along six carefully designed cycle routes suitable for cyclists of all abilities. So, there are loads of ways to get involved and support this fantastic cause as a volunteer or participant!

Cash4Change Initiative

Our award-winning Cash4Change project enables learners to bid for funding to make positive changes through projects linked with sustainability, the environment, the local community, enterprise or charity. And despite lockdown, charitable volunteering activities have continued with support from the project:

  • Charity support – BTEC Business learners at Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone volunteered for the local Blaenau Gwent Foodbank, while learners at Torfaen Learning Zone sourced hoodies at cost price to sell through a pop-up shop, with all profits donated to St David’s Hospice Care. At Usk Campus, Animal Care learners are raising funds and awareness for the Bullies Out project, while Land-based students supported Pancreatic Cancer through virtual fundraiser events, sponsored walks, sponsored silences, and talk to me sessions, all in memory of Joe – one of the farm tutors who sadly lost his life to the disease.
  • E-sport enterprise – Two learners from our Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone E-sports course are designing and making a line of E-sport-specific clothing as their final major project, using the opportunity to support a local charity and raise money and awareness.
  • Santa’s Grotto – Assisted by tutors Tim, Dan, Emma, Rob and Bobby, Multi-skills learners at the City of Newport Campus helped local restaurant The Llanwern Bull to produce a sleigh and reindeer for their Santa’s grotto, to be enjoyed by the whole community.

Cash4Change projects

  • Helping the homeless – In previous years, the Hair and Beauty department have helped 34 homeless people in Cardiff. Once again this year, they’re planning to deliver care packages to the homeless in Newport and Cardiff with the help of the H.O.P.E charity.
  • Saving the environment – At the City of Newport Campus, our ILS learners volunteered in litter-picking to clean up the local area alongside Can Do and the Gwent Wildlife Trust. At Crosskeys Campus, they’re using Cash4Change funding to purchase wood, tools and resources to make hedgehog houses, bird boxes, planters and mirrors to sell. Meanwhile, at Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, learners are getting involved in the Friends of the Earth sustainability and environmental project, as part of Our Bright Future, a programme funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The past year has been a tough one for many people and charitable causes in our local community and volunteering is more important than ever. So, as a college, we’re doing our bit and supporting learners and staff to volunteer throughout the year. We believe that college life is about more than just your studies (although that’s important too!). So, make it your choice to study a course this September at one of Wales’ top performing colleges – Apply now to get more than just a qualification at Coleg Gwent!