Student Stories

Learn about the benefits of volunteering from past student volunteers

Why did you start volunteering? What skills did you gain? How has it or will it help you in your employment? KeeleSU wants to hear from you. Email if you're interested in featuring on this page. 


Duwaraga Manoharan - Current student

Since joining Keele, I have been involved in a wide variety of volunteering opportunities. One of the first things I volunteered was with the Trentham Monkey Forest where I helped to clear the pathways of the forest. This was so that there was nothing on the paths such as sharp tree branches that can potentially injure either the monkeys or the humans. I then tried my hand at dog walking - something that I never did before as I don’t have a dog. I was surprised at how calm I was at walking the dogs. I then went on to volunteer within the university student community such as volunteering in the library and with HallsLife. Before I came to Keele, I did not know much about the local area apart from the fact that it was near Stoke-on-Trent and it was in the Midlands. With volunteering, I was able to get to know the local area a bit better. I had the chance to visit the Monkey Forest near Trentham Gardens, Greyhound Gap, an animal charity in Kidsgrove that rehabilitates Greyhounds that are no longer racing and a local care home where I did arts and crafts with some of the residents.

With HallsLife, I was able to get more involved with the Student community. I help out during the Welcome Weeks in September where I provide information about activities such as quiz and film nights that happen throughout the year. These events are aimed to help new students integrate better into the Keele community.  I hoped that these events have helped students settle into their Keele and make the most out of what Keele has to offer. Through volunteering, I have learned to become more proactive, confident as well as improving my communication skills - both verbal and non-verbal. Examples of where I have used this has been on the committee for various societies such as Harry Potter, Sri Lankan, Guide Dogs and the Keele Sci-fi and Fantasy Society (Skiffy). I hope to put these skills to good use after I graduate and enter the world of work.


Ryan Stanyard - Graduated in 2018

"Before University, I was sceptical about the role of volunteering, but honestly, volunteering has been an essential part of my development whilst at Keele. Not only has it sharpened my skill-set, but it has allowed me to work with a range of individuals and teams to make a genuine difference. This has ranged from being part of international initiatives to promote STEM whilst overseas in Malaysia, through to mentoring new students and starting up new Networking initiatives at Keele, representing the university at NUS Conferences, University Challenge, or even things as simple as being a Course Rep (SVR) or Dog Walker! Every difference counts, and what you take from the volunteering at the end of the experience is something you just can't quantify.

What's more, your involvement makes a difference - I spent three months working at the Visitors' Centre at HMP Stafford, where they are reliant on volunteers to provide a safe visitation service for family, relatives and friends of inmates. Our volunteering efforts earned us all the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, myself included! If that's not enough of a reason to get involved, all of these efforts look great on your CV, and you also stack up to earn Volunteering awards here at KeeleSU. Having spent over 2,000 hours on volunteering over my three years at Keele (many many unlogged!) I've attained all of the awards available.

I've made valuable connections, memories and encountered challenging situations that overall put me in a position where I'm leaving with a competitive CV and a broad range of experiences to draw on for future situations, whether this is for formal interviews for further work or study, or additional volunteering in the future. It's safe to say without the volunteering I've engaged with, it would have been all that harder to attain my Master's place at King's College London as well as various Consultancy roles and Internships whilst at Keele."



Elizabeth Fordham - Current Student

“I have always volunteered, I started before university, so it was natural for me to continue at university especially as the team has offered so many different opportunities that I many not have had otherwise.

I think students should volunteer for loads of reasons: It’s fun, you get to meet new people/make new friends, it’s something different (outside of your course/societies), you can do it on your own or with friends/peers, feel good knowing that you have helped people and made a difference, volunteering looks good on your CV, you learn lots of new skills that help in all areas of your life.

It’s easy to sign up and lots of the activities are on campus so you don’t have to go far, plus you can often just sign up for 1 hour.”


Ele Fisher - Graduated in 2018

"Volunteering for Keele Nightline was extremely beneficial in building upon my employability skills, but also helped me make friends and make a difference. Being on the committee as part of the public team enhanced my team building skills and communication skills. Volunteering for a service which is led by students, for students allowed me to think further about the needs and welfare of students within the university community. The voluntary role of social media manager on the public team allowed me to hone my marketing skills to try and engage and recruit students as well as raising awareness of the service.

The overall experience helped to equip me with the skills I needed to go into my current salaried role as Welfare and Internationalisation officer for Keele Students Union. The volunteering allowed me to meet a vast network of people and learn so much from them and their experiences of volunteering, which I can carry forward into my career. I think everyone should volunteer at some point in their life!"



Rebekah Cowell - Graduated in 2016

"In my second year at Keele University I began volunteering for Home Start which is a charity offering 3 hours respite for families with children under the age of 5. I then discovered Children and Families Staffordshire (CAFS) which is a charity supporting families of children with additional needs in the area, by organising a range of activities per week which the children attend supported by volunteers. I also initially volunteered as a mentor at Keele, and then applied and was successful in becoming a Senior Mentor for Life Sciences in my third year. My roles were across Stoke-on-Trent which expanded my interaction with the local community and sparked more personal trips to locations I would never have known existed before. My role as senior mentor especially helped me feel more part of the Keele community in supporting other students and assisting in organising the meet-up events.

Volunteering helped me feel I was making a difference as well as it being thoroughly enjoyable, after coming back from volunteering I always felt I had done something positive and productive outside my usual university work. In all my volunteering roles I felt I was making a difference which also helped me to build my confidence about myself and also helped me to realise what kind of things I wanted to look for in work after university. I will always remember my first volunteering post at Home Start for inspiring my interest in working with children and their families. This has shaped my career to this date where I now work for the NHS supporting children and adolescents with additional needs. Without volunteering I would’ve never realised what was out there and discovered my career."


Georgia Williams - Graduated in 2018

"I was an active volunteer before coming to university and further developed these skills through the Student's Union volunteering scheme and societies. I was involved with Nightline, Keele Mentors, the Education Society, and was a Student Voice Representative. Outside of university I did a lot of voluntary work with the Scouts, the Duke of Edinburgh Award andthe #Iwill campaign. I really felt I grew as a person and learned how to work in a team effectively, improved my confidence, organisational skills and communication skills. On top of my voluntary work, I was also an employee of the Volunteering Department working weekly to support student volunteering and social action. This gave me another opportunity to develop my employment skills and teamwork. My roles with children and young people through the Students' Union and community volunteering such as The Scouts solidified my choice to become a teacher and gave me the required experience needed to begin my PGCE course, after which is hoping to become a primary school teacher."