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University launches ambitious volunteering project

* 4 November 2002 *

University launches ambitious volunteering project

Communities across Sussex are set to benefit from an ambitious new scheme designed to make the wealth of volunteering possibilities clearer and easier for students to access.

Many students at the University of Sussex already dedicate time to volunteering both on and off campus. However, in the past, this has been done in an ad-hoc fashion.

With the launch of Project V, voluntary positions will be coordinated under one scheme. Project V will set up a dedicated website and volunteer bureau which will allow students, quickly and easily, to access opportunities based on their particular interests. An academically credited course will also be on offer, which will allow to hone thier skills and reflect on their experiences performing voluntary work.

The University of Sussex, based in Brighton, together with the Students' Union jointly bid for funds from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to set up theP scheme.

Project V coordinator, Karen Belton, is keen to dispel some of the confusion that exists over volunteering: "Some people seem to think volunteering is all the classic and worthy image of 'doing a good turn'. In fact a lot of people volunteer and don't even think of it as volunteering because they're having too much fun. Project V is about recognising and making available the full breadth of opportunities out there."

But aren't students who volunteer just CV cramming? Karen disagrees: "People get involved in volunteering for loads of reasons. They might want to help out or learn new skills. Just as painting a community centre can be volunteering, so can doing a bit of graphic design or marketing for a society or charity. Through this people can bolster their CV while doing some really important work."

Volunteering isn't something new to Karen. In the past she has been involved with a variety of community organisations from the Citizens Advice Bureau to Cherish, a youth club for people with learning difficulties: "Volunteering for me has been great in terms of experience and confidence. I really do believe in giving something back and I saw the role here as a good opportunity to raise the profile of volunteering."

* Notes for editors *

Press Office contacts: Benedict Brook or Alison Field, University of Sussex,

Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, or

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