The scope of St John Ambulance’s student volunteering initiative is really quite impressive; approximately 1500 student volunteers, based at 50 universities, have provided over 80,000 volunteer hours to the organisation in the last year alone. The volunteers work on their university campuses and in the local community to help St John Ambulance achieve its vision that “no one should suffer from the lack of trained first aiders.”
Work begins at a university’s Student Union where a First Aid Society must initially be established. St John Ambulance provide a helpful Guide to walk you through this process, including tips on promoting your society and finding funding. Members are given first aid training, free of charge, equipping them with the skills and confidence to act effectively, including dealing with burns, fractures or an unconscious person.
The bulk of the volunteer work involves attending events (e.g. university sporting events, concerts and nightclubs) to offer first aid and ensure that events are run in a safe manner, but there are many different opportunities to fundraise for the charity and work within the community. Just this week, St John Ambulance student volunteers have been out in force, helping to train members of the Women's Institute in first aid. Meanwhile, student volunteers in Leeds attend the weekly university club night Fruity, offering support and first aid to revellers. In the following video, created as part of Student Volunteering Week, Leeds student Sam Elcock explains how it makes him feel to be able to help his peers in this way, and potentially save lives:
Another example of the great work being undertaken by the student volunteers includes the Clapham Night Hub, which is held in the Methodist Church on Clapham High Street, every Friday and Saturday night from 11pm to 5am. Here, St John Ambulance volunteers work alongside the street wardens to treat individuals from the local night clubs who have had too much to drink, taking the pressure off the ambulance service and saving the NHS over £100k a year by reducing A&E visits and ambulance call outs. The venue also offers a safe haven and a cup of tea to those who need assistance or who have become separated from friends.
Volunteers can decide exactly how much time they would like to give, fitting in with their studies and social lives - speaking of which, many St John Ambulance student volunteer groups organise an active calendar of excursions and events for their members. Volunteering is therefore a fantastic way to develop new skills, build confidence and make new friends, as student volunteer Naomi Parkhouse from the University of East Anglia explains:
“I met a lot of my friends at university through the first aid society and St John Ambulance, and we’ve done things like rock climbing and paint balling together. One of the best things about learning first aid is knowing that if something bad happens you could make a difference, and that’s just a really great feeling.”
Going forward, St John Ambulance are in the process of developing a significant project that aims to support the wellbeing of all their volunteers, including students. More information will be available through their website in the near future.