UN students volunteer in local community

Date 11.11.2015

Close to 100 of the University of Northampton’s Occupational Therapy students spent a day volunteering for local causes last week, as part of National Occupational Therapy Week.

The Week, initiated by the College of Occupational Therapists, saw Occupational Therapists (OT) and OT students all over the country promoting what their profession does, and how they enable clients to achieve health and wellbeing. At the University of Northampton, students and staff from the BSc Occupational Therapy programme decided to mark OT Week by volunteering, with help from the University’s Changemaker Hub.

The staff and students joined local organisations and charities around the county, undertaking a variety of activities, including conservation, working in a charity shop and tidying graveyards and canal towpaths. Other students helped organisations to set up social media platforms, and many worked directly with charities and groups – supporting elderly people, deaf people, children, young people, those with mental health needs, people with breathing problems and the homeless. Some students also assisted with relief efforts for the European migration crisis.

Students and staff used their problem solving, communication skills, team-working skills, initiative, clinical knowledge and expertise and even their outward looking attitudes to generously give of their time, enthusiasm and hard work!

OT students sweeping leaves

Volunteering at St Peter’s Church, for the Churches Conservation Trust.

Jenny Devers, Occupational Therapist and senior lecturer at the University of Northampton, said “Everyone reported having a fantastic time! Some had never volunteered before, some had. New skills were learned, they got to know others on their course better, they felt fulfilled and were generally amazed how their efforts made such a difference!

“The University of Northampton promotes and supports us to get involved with local organisations. Through the Changemaker hub, students are credited for their volunteering and encouraged to recognise how their experience will develop their employability skills. By volunteering for Occupational Therapy week, students and staff have discovered first-hand the benefits and the difference that volunteering can make, both to themselves and to the clients they will work with throughout their professional lives.”

Occupational Therapy student Ceri Goldring spent the day at Bradlaugh Fields where she undertook a mobility audit. She explained: “While volunteering we made a list of possible improvements that could take place to improve the accessibility of this open space in Northampton.  Some of the things we spotted may not have been picked up on by the Council or the Trust who manage the park. Our audit may have quite an impact on park users if any of our points can be actioned. I’m looking forward to getting feedback from our report.”

Julia Jolley, Community Engagement Advisor at the University of Northampton, commented: “The OT department here have always actively engaged with community volunteering and I was really impressed with the students that I met during the day. I tried to offer a wider variety of opportunities from conservation work, working with the deaf community, accessibility audits for the Canal and Riverboat Trust to volunteering in charity shops.

“The students will all gain Employability Points for the hours they committed, and have the opportunity to reflect on their skills and create an action plan towards developing them further.”

For further information about studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Northampton, visit the course page or contact Pat.harding@northampton.ac.uk. For further information about volunteering through the Changemaker Hub please email changemakerhub@northampton.ac.uk. For a gallery of images from the day, visit our Facebook album.