Why I’m a Bristol Volunteer

Almost 2,000 people volunteered for the University in this academic year. We caught up with some of our volunteers to find out more about their roles and what being a Bristol Volunteer means to them.

(Top) Fran Wormald (MEng 2012) supported our Bristol Voices programme

Since moving back to Bristol, I’ve wanted to get more involved in the local community and support students at the University. I can imagine the coronavirus crisis has left students feeling isolated and lonely, with limited opportunities to meet and socialise. I wanted to be a friendly contact for a student during this difficult period.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the student I’ve been paired with. She and I have lots in common and get on really well. We’ve been able to talk openly about our difficulties during lockdown and what we’re looking forward to in the future.

Jonny Coller (BA 2002) presented at Bristol Connects Live: the future of creative industries

Volunteering as a Bristol Connects Live speaker was a no-brainer. I know how intimidating the world of work can seem from the outside. Any way to try to demystify this and help Bristol students make that first step is a worthwhile thing to do – particularly if it might help unearth a future star in my industry (television).

I firmly believe in the importance of paying back and helping the next generation find their way into a career they’re passionate about. I would take great satisfaction in thinking I might have helped someone take that first step.

Ahmed Yasin Jelle (LLM 2020) spoke to prospective postgraduate students about his Bristol experience

I got involved because it allowed me to give back, albeit in a small way, to the Bristol community which gave me so much as a student. Having had a wonderfully fulfilling time during my studies and thereafter as an alumnus, I wanted to paint a picture of what future students could look forward to.

I enjoyed working with people from different departments and learned just how passionate the whole University team is about ensuring that students have an amazing academic and extracurricular experience throughout.

Emma England (MEng 2013) mentors Faculty of Engineering students

While on the Airbus graduate scheme I was involved in various volunteering events. I became interested in educational volunteering with a focus on diversity and inclusion. This particularly resonated with me, being a woman in engineering from a low-income background.

I received two scholarships while at University, which really helped me to complete my studies without having to work during term time, so I wanted to give back by mentoring current students. I enjoy giving insights to the students to allow them to make more informed decisions for their futures.

Xiaoyu Xu (MSc 2020) spoke with prospective Accounting and Finance students online

I met a group of inspiring students and professors on my master’s programme. The study experience at Bristol motivated me to take on a PhD programme in Paris.

I learnt there was a volunteer opportunity during the University’s Open Week, and I thought it was an invaluable chance for me to do what I could for the Bristol community by speaking to potential students. It was an interesting experience and I was happy to have the chance to help them, especially knowing that they are interested in joining programmes in my loved university.

Charles Gunter (BSc 2006, PGCE 2007, MSc 2009), Savannah Coombe (BA 2020), David Richards (BSc 1988, PhD 1995) and Linda Wilson (LLB 1982) curated the Bristol Alumni Network Spring Showcase in 2021.

David (bottom right): It was an absolute pleasure to work as a team for six months to organise the Showcase. We certainly set ourselves a challenge, with plenty of new tools for connecting, communicating and capturing memories.

As a lecturer, it was great to reboot Centenary celebration plans for Geography, with guests from each decade back to the 1950s at an informal event. I was also pleased to promote ways for a diverse range of student groups to connect. We have already seen this come to fruition, with follow-up events within weeks of the Showcase.

Linda (top right): Highlights included a popular and hotly fought ‘University Challenge’ style quiz, and a look inside some of the University’s fascinating special collections as well as a showcase event, featuring 15 student societies who were keen to connect with alumni.

Volunteers can play an important part in forging connections on a peer-to-peer basis. The event and all the planning was very intensive, but it was great to work with such an amazing team of people and I felt I learned a huge amount about networking and connecting in our current ‘virtual’ world.

Charles (left): I enjoyed bringing alumni and students together to celebrate the good work they are already doing and to build new connections. I was really proud of what we produced and got a buzz out of the energy and enthusiasm of each of the groups involved when we “went live”, and to see alumni from around the world engaging with what we planned.

Volunteering is a really rewarding thing to do – you can give as much as you are able to, as often as you want to.

Feeling inspired? Find out how you can get involved and contact the Bristol Volunteers team at alumni-volunteers@bristol.ac.uk with your questions.



1 thought on “Why I’m a Bristol Volunteer

  1. Lovely and inspiring to learn about so many volunteers.
    For me the University was a time of experiencing a community of very diverse individuals who were able to work and study and have fun together. It opened my mental horizons and living in such a vibrant city was a revelation.

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