This year has been different to any we have previously encountered and we couldn’t have done it without your support! Due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 we moved to remote volunteering and have made a difference to the Winchester community in one of the most crucial and difficult years of our lives.

As this academic year comes to an end we would like to reflect on what we have achieved together.

Here’s an overview of some of the remarkable projects and stand out moments from the past academic year:

  1. We continued to tackle educational disadvantages

School closures, as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, are likely to have widened the disadvantage gap and widen existing inequalities. Our Schools Plus team offered a range of  projects to support students in Winchester, from primary and secondary schools.

"This year we have moved our Schools Plus volunteering programme online. The COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted the disadvantage that is present within education. The move to online learning meant that students who did not have access to this technology were at a disadvantage compared to their peers. Our volunteers created resources remotely for local primary schools, providing children with the opportunity to catch up on any learning they had missed because of lockdowns. In the second semester, our volunteers focussed on creating content which was less academic, and more skills focussed. I led the ‘Transitions to Secondary School’ project, which was incredibly rewarding, and it gave the local children an opportunity to ask the volunteers any questions about their experiences of secondary school. This year really emphasised the need for students to volunteer with young people and I am so glad that this could still be achieved despite the pandemic." Ashleigh, Schools + Coordinator
"I have really enjoyed my time with Winchester Hub. Through Schools Plus I developed the confidence to design my own volunteering project ‘Literacy Links’ and had the opportunity to work with amazing Hub staff and volunteers. I valued the time I spent working alongside hardworking and friendly staff and fellow students! My work with children in Winchester, through the Hub, has inspired me to explore how volunteering can further support the education community." Jess, Schools + Coordinator
Literacy Links programme created by our Schools + Coordinator Jess
"Volunteering throughout the pandemic had been a challenge and I can’t thank our volunteers enough for their continued hard work and dedication in supporting our local schools. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Ashleigh and Jess for being a fantastic team to work with. They have both been so crucial to shaping the Schools Plus project and I couldn’t have done it without them." Harry, Schools + Coordinator
Our Schools Plus Coordinators 2020/21 Jess, Harry and Ashleigh

2. Woolly Matters continued to create to help those in need

Over the past year our Woolly Matters Team has been busy creating knitted and crochet items to donate to those who would find them useful. We recently donated a large batch of crochet octopi to the Royal Hampshire Hospital for their dementia patients to enjoy.

"Being a Woolly Matters Coordinator this past year has helped boost my confidence in my creative ability." Gina, Woolly Matters Coordinator

Our Woolly Matters Coordinators have been running weekly sessions throughout this academic year to allow Winchester Students to come along and learn how to Knit or Crochet.  Our coordinators have also been sharing on our social media how to start learning to knit or crochet and patterns you can follow from home.

"It was definitely a bit of a challenge moving online, but it was great to be able to continue the weekly meetings and continue creating items to donate." Louise, Woolly Matters Coordinator

3. Created Youth Theatre Activity Packs for Children

Whilst many of us have spent the last year inside, our Youth Theatre Coordinators and volunteers have been busy making activity packs for children. There were sent out during the Christmas and Easter holidays to keep children entertained and to help them stay creative.

“This year has been incredibly tough for everyone as well as creative volunteering projects. Youth Theatre has continued to run throughout the pandemic and as a team we have created theatre workbooks for children. Youth Theatre and Winchester Hub has helped me remain connected to the outside world and given me a sense of community. Thank you Winchester Hub, it’s been a pleasure.” Ella C, Youth Theatre Coordinator
Our Winchester Hub Manager Liz delivering the Youth Theatre Activity packs
“This year has been absolutely crazy - in the midst of a pandemic, being part of Winchester Hub has been such a wonderful and rewarding experience. I’ve been able to work alongside some creative and brilliant people and take part in some great challenges to raise money, which has been so much fun. As Youth Theatre Coordinator, it’s been great to work together as a team to produce the activity booklet which was distributed to families across Winchester and I’m thrilled with the end product! Being part of Winchester Hub is something I couldn’t recommend enough - a supportive and great organisation!” Justine, Youth Theatre Coordinator

4. Continued to make volunteering accessible

This year we continued our Give it a Go programme offering one-off volunteering opportunities. We were able to conduct remote volunteering opportunities including:

An Arts and Craft Session in Student Volunteering Week over Microsoft Teams to share positive affirmations and help students mental wellbeing.

Creations made from the arts and crafts session run by Charlotte, our Give it a Go Coordinator

And once lockdown allowed, we carried out a community activity helping the Carroll Centre paint their fences.

We ran a Give it a Go campaign offering Winchester Students the opportunity to write a guest post on our blog running campaigns on “Save the Hedgehogs” and “Environmentalism”. Check out our blog.

“This year has been challenging, working to adapt volunteering events to be Covid safe, but everyone at the Hub has been so supportive and encouraging. This has helped GIAG to take place virtually or allow volunteers to participate from home, so that we’ve all been able to enjoy taking part but in a safe way.” Charlotte, Give it a Go Coordinator

5. Fundraised to continue our work this year and next year

Our fundraising efforts this year included plenty of quizzes and lots of active fundraisers, perfect for a year where we were stuck inside for the majority of it! One of our most popular fundraisers was the sponsored walk.

Sponsored Walk

Throughout November 2020, our Winchester Hub committee members took part in their first fundraiser for the hub, our sponsored walk. This fundraiser was significant for us as a committee as the whole of the UK was in lockdown 2.0. Throughout this period, our 2020/ 2021 committee were able to connect virtually through sharing our progress and it was a great way to get to know each other. This was also a really successful fundraiser as we exceeded our target goal of £500, thank you we couldn’t have done it without you and your donations!

Some of our committee members taking part in the sponsored walk (November 2020)

Halloween Quiz

On the 30th October some of our committee hosted a Halloween Quiz evening, a great way for us together and celebrate Halloween whilst also raising money for our Hub.

“I have absolutely loved my time as exec of Winchester hub, especially being able to support everyone and create a close knit community despite never meeting in person. It was great getting to run the Halloween quiz, it was really fun for all involved and we had a great time - it was nice to know that we could overcome the challenges of a virtual event, especially as it was the first time we did it.” Lydia, Winchester Hub President

30 active days

In March 2021 our committee members took on their second fundraiser, this time they stayed active in any way they wanted with an achievable goal in mind for that month. For some of our committee members this was getting their steps in and walking their dog and for others it was doing a daily workout of their choice. This fundraiser was great as we were in lockdown three this time and encouraged us all to keep motivated to stay active while we were all stuck at home.

Some of our committee members and their lovely dogs taking part in our 30 active days fundraiser (March 2021)

Thank you to all of our committee members who got involved with our fundraisers and thank you to those of you who donated this year and followed our progress. We couldn't have done it without you!

6. Awards

Winchester Volunteering and Community Champions Awards

This year a lot of our committee members were nominated for the Winchester Volunteering and Community Champions awards and at the virtual ceremony our Communications Officers Kate Mardon was awarded ‘Creative Volunteering Champion’, fellow Communications Officer Rosanna was awarded ‘Student Change Agent Champion’, Charlotte Rogers our Give it a Go coordinator won ‘Environmental Action Award Winner’ and our Schools Plus Coordinator Jess won ‘Awareness Raising Champion’. Congratulations everyone!

National Societies and Volunteering Awards

Another great achievement for Winchester Hub this year was two of our committee members being recognised in the National Societies and Volunteering Awards. Our Schools Plus Coordinator Ashleigh was long-listed for the 'Extra Mile Award' and our Communications Officer Rosanna became a runner up for ‘The Opportunities for All Award’.

We are so proud of everything this year’s committee has achieved and we appreciate all our volunteers and the difference they have helped to make in this tough year. They are all winners in our eyes!

7. Offered Mental Health Support for Students

During this academic year our Events and Fundraising Coordinator Holly set up Hub Brew, a weekly remote session allowing Winchester Students to come together and talk about their feelings whilst also having a different theme each week.

Graphic advertising our Hub Brew weekly get together
“I’ve found that volunteering with Winchester Hub has helped me get through the pandemic easier as there was plenty to do to fill up any free time. There was also a great support system in the Hub which made it much easier in handling many things. Adapting to the pandemic was made easier with the help of the Hub and we had many successful events run this year.” Holly, Events Coordinator

8. Supported the local community through innovative ideas and helped develop students skill set

Social Innovation Programme (SIP)

Our Social Innovation Programme is a unique opportunity for students to address challenges in the local area. This years focus was helping charities after a year in lockdown.

This year we ran our Winter and Spring Social Innovation Programme and are currently running our Summer cohort.

SIP is the perfect opportunity to allow students to build up their CV with unique opportunities, develop professional skills and make a difference to a local organisation in Winchester.

Some of our SIP sign ups together virtually

Charity Challenge

This year we ran our Charity Challenge in semester one and once term had finished at the end of semester two, with the aim to help produce creative solutions for local charities.

One of our Charity Challenge cohorts

9. Communication Team Successes and Achievements

Over the past year Rosanna, Kate and Ella have been working hard behind the scenes bringing you the social media content you see, your weekly newsletter and blog posts covering a range of topics. During our time as a Communications team for Winchester Hub we have worked effectively by switching roles each month, which also meant all three of us over the past year have become confident in a variety of communication methods and built up our skill set. As a team we were able to really evaluate our brand on social media and asked our other committee members through online polls what they liked about our social media so we could improve further. We also jumped on relevant trends where possible and shared a TikTok video on our Instagram made by our communications officer Rosanna. We also tried to mix up the content and design of our newsletter so it stays entertaining for our subscribers and our communications officers Kate and Ella have provided you with a variety of blog posts on topical subjects.

“Although there have been difficult times in the past year, the remote nature of university and volunteering has opened lots of doors for me. As someone who suffers from social anxiety, I never expected to be able to feel confident in my abilities. But, volunteering as a comms officer for Winchester Hub has made me feel like this. I have learnt so many new skills to prepare me for the world of work. And I have met the best people. It was a pleasure to work there.” Ella D, Communications Officer
"To think, over two years ago I was recommended to apply for Schools Plus coordinator, but instead I saw 'Communications Officer' advertised and knew this was a role I could develop in. Too right.  The skills and confidence I've gained through my social media and comms work with Winchester Hub are immense, so it's incredibly sad that this is my final year.  My highlight for 2020/21 was the Charity Challenge. I'd never had the confidence in 1st or 2nd year to take part, but working with Move Momentum to problem-solve their fundraising brief was so rewarding, and proved to me I'm capable of stepping out of my comfort zone and making an impact." Rosanna, Communications Officer
"Being part of the Winchester Hub committee was one of the best decisions I made in 2020. Although as an organisation everything has been running virtually this year I feel I have made friends for life in my Communication officer colleagues and my wider Winchester Hub committee members. As a Media and Communications student my role with Winchester Hub has provided me with some lifelong useful skills for my industry and helped me grow in confidence. I loved taking part in the committee fundraisers, (especially the sponsored walk, after starting off November in self - isolation) and the 30 active days fundraiser, once again taking part in this in a national lockdown which encouraging me to stay active and motivated.
And in the end to be recognised as ‘Creative Volunteering Champion’ at the Winchester Volunteering and Community Champions awards topped it all off. WOW! Thank you Winchester Hub for providing me with such a valuable volunteering experience."  Kate, Communications Officer

10. Staff Reflection

Our staff team have been the guiding force throughout this past year to keep Winchester Hub going, here are some reflective thoughts on how they think the past year has gone.

“This year has been a challenging year in more ways than one, but I have been amazed by the dedication, creativity and passion of this years Winchester Hub committee. Not only have they thrived during a pandemic, but they have continued to produce high-quality, engaging volunteering opportunities for all. My personal highlight has been watching the committee tackle the walking challenge in November! They didn't let lock down get them down, but bonded over walking 600km as a team. A HUGE achievement.” Sorcha, Programmes Manager
"I joined the Winchester Hub staff team as Projects Officer in January yet in those very few months, I have been impressed by how well the student committee and my colleagues have adapted to the pressures of a socially distanced world. In my role, I have the pleasure of supporting students directly in creating change which gives me the added benefit of experiencing their commitment and energy even in the toughest of times. So many times have I left a call with a student and thought about how I can learn from their knowledge and confidence. I can safely say, the students I have worked with have supported me in my role to become a better Projects Officer." Aaron, Projects Officer
The biggest thing I've had to learn this past year is to be comfortable with uncertainty. As a Hub Manager you need a strong sense of direction, with COVID-19 and the reduced capacity of our staff, volunteers and community partners, it was impossible to give a sense of certainty to our work. Being faced with the inability to plan even for next month no matter the time of year made my role certainly more challenging! However, some things in my role thankfully remained the same. I still got to engage with our amazing volunteers and local community (albeit online), who are fundamentally the reason I am in this job. Personally, it was these continued personal relationships - the continued enthusiasm, empathy, and fun - that outweighed the anxieties over uncertainty and retained the enjoyment of my role alongside this challenge. We've still managed to achieve a lot! We've engaged over 100 student volunteers to date (with more to come over summer) and benefited over 500 people in the local community. Aside from these numbers, I think our biggest achievement is coming together, bringing our whole selves to our work and sharing in our struggles, to show to both the local and university community that students still certainly have the power and drive to generate positive impact - despite what has probably been the hardest year of all our lives.” Liz, Winchester Hub Manager

It’s not been an easy year but we are so proud of everything we have achieved and we are so thankful for our student committee, volunteers, community partners and to everyone who donated to our fundraisers this year.

Earlier this month our 20/21 committee met the new committee and we’re super excited to see what next academic year brings!

If you didn’t get the chance to volunteer with us this year, we will be back in September, fingers crossed with more in person volunteering opportunities!

Thank you for interacting with us and following our journey! Your 2020/21 Communications Officers Kate, Rosanna and Ella x

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