Queen honours university’s busy volunteers

A STUDENT group at Swansea University has received the highest prize that can be given to a charity – the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Representatives of Discovery Student Volunteer Group received the award on Friday October 17 from the Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan Mr D Byron Lewis.

Discovery QAVSThis tops a wonderful year for the 300 or so students who give up their free time for Discovery. The group has also won the Swansea Bay Awards for Businesses Supporting Volunteering and the Chwarae Teg Agile Nation quality mark recognising superb attitudes and practices on equal opportunities.

‌Also, Discovery’s manager Christine Watson became an MBE in the New Years honours list for services to student volunteering and education and became the first winner of Swansea University’s Mary Williams Award which recognises supporting the career development of others.

The Discovery charity was established in 1966. Last year it recorded 3,910 volunteer hours ­given to benefit the people of Swansea.

Each year about 300 students volunteer across 25 projects serving older people, children and adults with disabilities, the homeless, people with mental health issues including dementia and refugees and asylum seekers.

They also take part in practical environmental projects such as gardening and decorating, running a food co-op and cleaning up the beach. In all, about 2,000 people have benefited from Discovery’s work over the past 12 months.

Discovery also has a summer programme in Zambia, the Swansea-Siavonga Partnership, during which students and professionals from both places work together to improve education and health and tackle poverty. The programme has an impact on over 500 households in Siavonga.

Mrs Watson said: “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.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor for External Relations and Employability, Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, said: “This has been an exciting year for Discovery. The Queen has not only recognised the work of our dedicated students with this prestigious award but also awarded Christine an MBE, in her capacity as manager.

“The University is delighted to receive this award. These opportunities enrich our students’ experience and give them additional confidence, skills and values which they will carry with them into the community and future employment.”

  • For more information about Discovery click here
  • For more information about the Queens Award click here

Discovery projects include:

  • Providing activities and support for children and young people with hearing impairment, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and from ethnic minority, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds
  • Teaching young people with disabilities to surf
  • Acting as classroom assistants at Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn special school
  • Gardening and decorating for people who can’t do it themselves
  • Providing fresh produce for students and university staff at a food co-op
  • Picking litter on the beach and in Penllergare Valley Woods
  • Teaching circus skills to children with Circus Eruption
  • Providing activities and support for adults with learning disabilities, or living with brain injury or dementia
  • Helping asylum seekers and refugees improve their English
  • Supporting the friends and families of prisoners
  • Running creative and social activities for people with mental health issues
  • Cooking for destitute asylum seekers