- People orientated activities: Activities & outings for children & young people with Autism; integrated circus group; improving numeracy skills in schools; day trips for adults with learning disabilities, breakfast club for the homeless; visiting the elderly and working with mental health patients.
- Environment orientated activities: running a food coop; gardening and decorating services; helping on the Community Farm; awareness raising on global and environmental issues.
- Discovery support activities: running the Brynmill charity shop; fund raising; promotion; trusteeship; building links with international projects.
- It also runs the local Millennium Volunteers scheme, that certificates volunteering of 100 or 200 hours by young people.
Discovery initiative continues to develop positive links
A student-led registered charity which links student volunteers with a comprehensive range of community activities is going from strength to strength after more than 45 years.
Discovery - Student Volunteering Swansea (Discovery), set up at Swansea University in 1966, operates as an independent voluntary organisation and runs a wide variety of local community projects in addition to its charity shop, fund raising and publicity.
These activities include volunteering with children and vulnerable adults in addition to a number of environmental projects.
Christine Watson, Manager, who has been working at Discovery for 18 years said: “Our vision has always been the same – help to enrich the lives of disadvantaged people, challenge discrimination and support disabled people.
We try to achieve this by providing educational opportunities and to facilitate charitable activities in the area. We also regularly work with isolated, vulnerable young people, children and families, older people, disabled adults and children, and people with learning difficulties”
Fellow Discovery member Tiffany Adam, Discovery’s Student President said: “Discovery is unusual in that it is a charity which remains student-led and operates outside of both the University and Students Union.
“It evolved from a Volunteer Service into a Student Community Action group in the late 1960’s and was then restructured in 2003 resulting in its current charitable form, Discovery – Student Volunteering Swansea.”
The restructure came partly in response to the Widening Participation agenda.
Mrs Watson added: “Students coming from a more diverse range of backgrounds had not always had the opportunities of the traditional ‘privileged’ student model. This meant that Discovery had to put in a stronger support system and train students to a level where they could confidently and effectively manage their own projects. Restructuring assisted this process.”
Sarah Huws-Davies, Director of Student Services at Swansea University said: “Discovery plays an extremely important role in enabling the student community to contribute to the support of vulnerable people in Swansea and to the personal and professional skills development of the volunteers. It enriches the cultural life of the University campus and enhances the Swansea student experience. Everybody wins.”
Discovery is overseen by a Board of Trustees of 10 student trustee members, University staff, and five local community representatives. Staff are employed to co-ordinate, support and develop the student activities.
Around 300 students volunteer each year with Discovery, and more than 800 people directly benefit from its services. The organisation estimates that its volunteers annually deliver the equivalent of over £125,000 worth of services.
Volunteering opportunities include:
Discovery recently introduced its own scheme of 50 hour certification signed by Professor Richard B. Davies, Vice- Chancellor of Swansea University and is looking to extend its recognition scheme to integrate with the national HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record) initiative.
For more information about Discovery see: www.swan.ac.uk/discovery
This news item forms part of Swansea University’s support for the second annual Universities Week, which takes place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the universities in Wales and across Britain.
Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives — from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures. Hundreds of events will be taking place around the country open to members of the public, as well as high-profile media coverage and activity across social media networks.