Students showcase value of volunteering

Occupational Therapy (OT) students at Plymouth University have held a special event to showcase the ‘immeasurable’ value of volunteering. 

From supporting animal charities to helping the homeless, the second-year students showed the variety of ways in which they have helped the community and boosted their own skills at The Value of Volunteering event on 5 May. 

The OT programme requires every student to complete 60 hours of volunteering as part of a second-year module, encouraging them to understand how devoting free time can be effective at enhancing health and wellbeing. 

The module is also designed to help the students develop new skills that can be helpful throughout their careers as occupational therapists, including communication with people of all ages and backgrounds; ability to empathise with another’s situation; and practical skills such as facilitating groups. 

Laura Wren, an OT student who volunteered at Erme Valley Riding for the Disabled near Ivybridge, said: 

“I’d previously been a riding instructor but volunteering with this charity was truly brilliant. I interacted with the service-users in a way I’d never otherwise have learned to, and I had to consider how to communicate with people with different disabilities. I’m continuing to volunteer now that the module’s finished, and it’s fantastic to help other people while improving my skill set.”

Dr Alison Warren, Lecturer in OT at Plymouth University, said: 

“The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists enable this by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do. Volunteering provides opportunities for the students to spend time with communities and get involved with a range of activities.

“Many students continue to volunteer throughout their studies and into their future careers, so it shows the impact that this practice has on our students. The value of volunteering is truly immeasurable, and it was fantastic to see how proud all the students were of their achievements.”