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Geography student wins volunteer award

15 June 2016

Final year geography student, Kathryn Sutter, has won this year’s QMSU Volunteering Leaver Volunteer of the Year Award. Each year, this award is presented to a student in their final year, nominated by their peers, who has shown dedication to volunteering throughout their years at Queen Mary.

For the last two years, Kathryn has been a One-Day Leader, coordinating and supporting groups of QMUL student volunteers at one-off charity events in the local community, ensuring their experience is positive and encouraging their continued involvement. Since August 2015, Kathryn has spent more than 100 hours of her free time volunteering with a range of great causes. This year she’s been blind guide with Thomas Pocklington Trust, supporting people with sight difficulties to access London theatre productions and museums, she worked as a canal clean up volunteer, and has volunteered almost weekly at a local foodbank, welcoming and befriending local foodbank users. Throughout her three years at Queen Mary, Kathryn has also found the time to volunteer at Hackney Winter Night Shelter, a roaming night shelter which welcomes up to 15 rough sleepers a night during winter, volunteering to service breakfast, set up guests for the evening, and even staying at the shelter to support guests overnight.

“Waking up at 4.30am on a Sunday morning to lead a group of volunteers to volunteer with the Homeless at the Whitechapel Mission may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Yet, I can honestly say that my volunteering experiences with QMSU and the School of Geography have been some of the most fun times of my degree! I got involved in volunteering in my first year when I started volunteering at the Hackney Winter Night Shelter - making sure that the guests felt welcome by sitting down to a meal with them, playing games and giving them a much needed listening ear. There is such a nice atmosphere at the shelter and I have really enjoyed meeting very interesting volunteers and guests throughout my three years of volunteering there. Some of the most memorable guests include a refugee from Syria who wanted to become a doctor and young Lithuanian friends who had fallen on hard times. Volunteering at the project has allowed me to consider some of the issues we study in the School of Geography, in reality” said Kathryn.  

“In my second year I decided that I wanted to get more involved in volunteering and became a One-Day Volunteering Leader with QMSU. This has involved leading groups of Queen Mary volunteers to one day events and has been great fun involving volunteering at some really interesting events. These have included the London Marathon, a Hair Show at the Royal Albert Hall and helping Santa’s prepare in Victoria Park’s Santa Run where thousands of runners dressed as Santa fill the park - a very memorable occasion! Looking for another challenge to get stuck into I began volunteering at the Bow Foodbank in my third year volunteering at the shelter each week as a befriender. Along with other Queen Mary volunteers I have really enjoyed this opportunity to get more involved with the community around Mile End. The project even helped me get some inspiration for my third year dissertation based on food welfare.”

“Being awarded the Leaver Volunteer of the Year Award really topped off all my great volunteering experiences! I would encourage anyone to get involved in volunteering even if it’s just every once in a while as there are so many interesting places to volunteer in East London and you meet so many interesting people. I have now secured a one-year internship with the British Social Housing Foundation which does work researching sustainable housing and homeless solutions and I’m sure that all my volunteering experiences were a key part of getting the job! It seems I have caught the volunteering bug and I am sure I will be volunteering for many years to come!”

Bronwen Eastaugh, Volunteering Coordinator at Queen Mary Students’ Union’s Volunteering Service, QMSU Volunteering, said “Kathryn has been an intrinsic member of the QMSU Volunteering One-Day Leader team, a fantastic representative for student volunteering out in the local community, and an inspiration to so many QMUL students. I am pleased to hear that Kathryn will be continuing to contribute to good causes through her new job at a charity in Leicester – good luck, Kathryn!”

Kathryn’s volunteering has all taken place through opportunities provided by Queen Mary Students’ Union.

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