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The Discovery Student Volunteering Group at Swansea University has been awarded the coveted Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by Buckingham Palace.
Discovery is a volunteer-led organisation which aims to enrich the lives of people in Swansea through volunteering. It has been established since 1966 as a Charity and last year Discovery recorded 3,910 volunteer hours in its annual report: this equates to a little over 2 years of voluntary work contributed to services to the community in the City.
Projects are run and facilitated by 300 students whose aim it is to enrich lives of adults and children with disabilities, mental health service users, refugee and asylum seekers, homeless people and many more. 400 people have benefited from Discovery’s work over the past 12 months.
Discovery has also forged a Swansea – Siavonga Partnership link with Zambia, a not-for-profit charity organisation established in 2008, which aims to build relationships across different cultures and maximise income generation through sharing experiences and learning, supporting children through education and making the best use of the environment to improve health through nutrition.
The partnership provides opportunities for both students and professionals in both Swansea (Wales) and Siavonga (Zambia) to share knowledge and skills needed to tackle the issue of poverty.
Christine Watson MBE, Manager of Discovery, commented:
“I am delighted that the Discovery group’s hard work and determination has been rewarded with this distinguished award. Discovery is an inspiring organisation that seems to motivate all those who invest in it.
I have especially enjoyed working with students from Swansea University over the past 20 years, building on their ideas and enthusiasm as they donate their free time to benefit disadvantaged people here in Swansea and - over the past four years - village women and children living in poverty in Siavonga, Zambia.”
As well as making a real difference to the lives of many people, students who volunteer gain valuable skills which enhance their employability. Being part of the Discovery team adds value to their CVs as they gain valuable experiences that are readily transferable to the work environment.
Above all, students become adaptable and resilient; those who work with refugees and asylum seekers, or on the Swansea-Siavongo project, demonstrate increasing intercultural awareness.
Pro-Vice Chancellor for External Relations and Employability Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott said:
“2014 has been an exciting year for Discovery. The Queen has not only recognised the work of our dedicated students with this prestigious Queen’s award but also has awarded Christine, in her capacity as Manager of Discovery, an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list this January for services to Student Volunteering and to Education in Swansea.
The University is delighted to receive this award in recognition of the excellent student voluntary service group, Discovery. These opportunities enrich our students experience and whilst studying with us gives them additional confidence and skills which they will carry with them into the community and future employment”
Discovery envisages a community where people are treated as equals and are not discriminated against or disadvantaged by society by enriching the lives of adults and children with disabilities, elderly people, those suffering mental health issues and refugee and asylum seekers in Swansea in order to fulfil their potential as empowered individuals and as members of groups and communities.
It offers new experiences and opportunities through a broad range of student led activities in the community leading to increased mutual understanding and equality. Discovery also actively supports students to be aware of their personal development and the impact on themselves and the lives of others through their involvement in community-based activities.
All its volunteers attend mandatory ‘Start Here’ training & complete an Enhanced CRB check before volunteering. Volunteers can also attend additional training.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK.
- Tuesday 24 June 2014 11.59 BST
- Monday 2 June 2014 17.30 BST
- Public Relations Office