Durham University: University encourages volunteering for all with new online platform

The new platform will enable student-led projects, departments and local charities to register, listing the volunteering opportunities they have available, so volunteers can access all the information they need to sign up and get involved. It will also allow volunteers to create their own profile of interests, skills and experiences and use search tags to match them with suitable projects.

Our staff and students take pride in the level of volunteering support they offer to the local and regional community. In a normal year, they log around 40,000 hours of volunteering time, working with around 250 different charities and projects.

This year DUVO hopes to reach more students and staff than ever before and get them involved in volunteering to the benefit of the local community. They also aim to better support volunteers with the easy to use services, such as tracking volunteering hours, awarding achievement badges and opportunities to access chat rooms.

Student-led volunteering projects

Durham students run a wide variety of projects, including schemes to combat loneliness amongst the elderly, or aid the integration of refugees through projects such as the Durham for Refugees Kids Club. One of the longest running student volunteering projects, CATSS (Children Achieving Through Student Support), trains students to provide respite care and new opportunities to socially at risk children in primary and secondary school age groups.


Staff projects

With a combination of ‘Team Challenges’ and individual volunteering under the employer-supported staff volunteering scheme, Durham staff regularly take part in a range of voluntary work. For example, local environmental projects are supported with beach cleans on the local coastline and garden renovations. Staff volunteers also work with health charities to encourage plasma and platelet donation for the NHS, while others use their volunteering time to complete essential foster carer training, or take on school governance positions.


Volunteering through the pandemic

Durham University volunteering continued despite the pandemic, either remotely, often adapting existing projects to fit the circumstances, or by creating new initiatives directly related to the COVID-19 response. One successful example of this adaptation involved Durham’s largest educational project, ‘1to1 Tutoring’, which used video-conferencing platforms to offer virtual tutoring to 70 tutees during lockdown. This was delivered through scheduled weekly sessions that allowed them to continue learning while out of school and university.

With university life resuming in a more normal fashion this year, the new DUVO platform will create a space for this work to be recognised and expanded within the Durham community. Katie Binks, Volunteering and Community Partnership Senior Manager at the University explained;

“Durham University has always been a leading institution when it comes to volunteering, this platform will enable us to take volunteering to the next level, making it more accessible, creating a user experience and for the first time, truly capturing all of the amazing volunteering that our staff and students embark upon within the community”.

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