Want to find out what it’s like to volunteer for a Widening Participation project? Take a look at our Spotlight Stories where student societies, activity groups and sports clubs tell you how and why they got involved. If you'd like to tell your story, take our short interview and let us know what it's like to be part of a Widening Participation project.
Spotlight: KCL Pharmacy Society
Long Yip & Suyee Chan - Community Outreach and Charity Officer & Treasurer
Tell us about the outreach event or programme your society runs?
KCL Pharmacy Society created a four-week outreach programme for year 10/11 students at ARK Globe Academy. As a Wednesday after-school club, the students were split into four groups with our volunteers and given a case study concerning a current healthcare issue. Our volunteers support and give advice to the students throughout the programme and the groups of students delivered a presentation regarding their case study’s healthcare issue.
Why did your activity group or sports club get involved with Widening Participation?
We found that there were not many opportunities to inform students about pharmacy and other healthcare degrees besides the big courses such as medicines and dentistry. Also we wanted to raise awareness on global healthcare issues which are currently prominent and encourage the students to pursue university. We wanted the students to seize as many opportunities as they are offered so that they feel prepared when deciding on universities and UCAS.
We also wanted to create an activity that complements the pharmacy degree by developing teamwork, leadership and organisation skills, as well as engaging with the community outside of university. These are beneficial for MPharm students because they are aspects that recruiters and interviewers ask applicants for examples of.
What advice would you give to an activity group or sports club that’s interested in WP outreach but isn’t sure what they’d like to do?
If we were to give advice to ourselves last year, we would say to create a novel and unique outreach programme that no other societies/organisations can offer. Also create a programme that you are passionate about and it is a programme that you would sign up in an instant. There’s no point if you are not enthusiastic about the programme. If you are excited about it, the students will be more engaged in the programme. Finally KCLSU is your friend. They will help you and guide you in times of trouble so don’t hesitate to contact them if any issues arises.
What WP outreach does your activity group or sports club have planned for this year?
As the academic year is coming to a close, we are looking towards the next year to continue to develop KCL Pharmacy Society’s outreach towards the community. The teacher who is partnered with us at ARK Globe Academy has expressed keen interest in continuing our global health outreach programme in the next academic year. We are planning to introduce a new outreach programme where we will create a STEM afternoon for primary school students. It will involve teaching them about the science to make a paper aeroplane fly and have a paper aeroplane competition for the best aeroplane which flies the longest distance.
What skills do you think you’ve gained from being involved in WP outreach?
We have gained so many skills whilst we were involved in WP outreach. We developed our communications skills as we talked to different groups of people and incorporated their feedback and ideas to create a programme that makes the most of both volunteers and pupils. Our interpersonal skills have been refined as we created rapport with the volunteers and students to promote a safe and great learning environment.
Through being the programme leaders, we learnt how to manage and support our volunteers effectively and directed them through our training sessions and the group work during the projects. We have also developed a sense of professionalism and the ability to be assertive and fair especially as our volunteers were representing the pharmacy society and King’s College London as an institution.
What has been your proudest WP moment?
I am really impressed with how our volunteers are interacting with pupils, I have seen the wisdom and professionalism shown by mentors to support and inspire pupils. Both volunteers and students are making the most of the time they have together, from discussing the public perspective on depression to researching the science behind antibiotic resistance. We are around half way through our programme and I am most looking forward to the finished presentations and the mini graduation ceremony.
Spotlight: Kings of Sport Day (KCL Rugby)
- William Brown, President of KCL Rugby Club
Kings of Sport was a day for local, white working class boys to come to King’s, meet students, and learn what the university has to offer them. The day included presentations on university life, tours of King's campuses, 2 hours of football and touch rugby, and a Q&A session with current King's students. My role was to run the touch rugby session and then take part in the Q&A.
On a personal level, I think it’s really important that university is made more open to more people, particularly white working class boys who experience several barriers when trying to enter university. Sport is a very useful way of breaking down barriers and getting to know people, and this was crucial on the day so that the boys could find out what day-to-day life is like as a student that plays sport. Not all of them were looking to apply to King's, but it was still important for them to find out more about university life.
My favourite moment was during the rugby session - lots of the boys were scared of playing because they hadn't played before, so they started to complain of 'injuries' that they'd picked up during the football earlier in the day. A few even decided not to play rugby. But by the end, everybody was involved and the mysterious injuries had disappeared!
It was an extremely rewarding day. Running a touch rugby session for boys who hadn't played very much rugby before was certainly a challenge, but we had a lot of fun along the way. I'd say it was my leadership and communication skills that were tested, and I certainly feel I've improved in these areas as a result.
It was also a great experience for the other guys involved, and as a club, we are always looking for new ways to give back to the community. It’d be an ideal annual event for the rugby club because lots of our guys are looking to get involved in coaching, so this is a great place to start.
Want to get involved in WP Outreach too? Email us for more information.
Click title links below to read past Spotlights: