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#UniForReading: Reading Students help vulnerable young people in the local area.

University of Reading students have been helping some of the most vulnerable young people in the local area in a new volunteer scheme.

The Community Champions scheme has been created by the University in response to the pandemic, in order to help community organisations in Berkshire when they request it.

So far, 70 students have signed up for the scheme. It works by matching potential volunteers to Berkshire-based charities in order for them to get help.

Already there have been success stories as students have been providing support for children and young people in vulnerable circumstances.

First-year Chemistry student, Romilly Hryczanek, began remotely volunteering for Bounce Back 4 Kids, a support programme for children who have been victims or witnesses of domestic abuse, back in May 2020.

The adoption charity, Parents and Children Together, who provide support for families in a range of ways, run the programme. Like many other charities, this Reading-based charity have been put under increased pressure because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Romilly has been helping out with the programme by compiling and redesigning support literature for the charity. This came after she met with support workers to discuss how she could support them.

Romilly said: “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to help others during this difficult time. I have learnt a lot about domestic abuse and developed my IT skills. I would like to do more with this charity in the future.”

Jay Sidpara, a second year Geography and Economics student, began volunteering with YMCA Reading in June 2020.  The charity, YMCA Reading empowers young people and helps Reading’s most vulnerable 16-25 year olds by providing supported accommodation to those who would otherwise be homeless. YMCA Reading is one of the oldest YMCAs in the world, having been active since 1846.

Jay feels the best thing about volunteering as a Community Champion is “working with great people and having something valuable to do during lockdown” as he has been helping the organisation with their social media. It has also given him ideas for his future as he’s “interested in starting a charitable organisation – seems like the CEO really enjoys the work she does!”

Arlene Kersley, Chief Executive of YMCA Reading said: “We asked Jay for specific help getting social media posts out and to set us up on LinkedIn. He hit the ground running and is regularly posting Twitter and Facebook postings for us and we are seeing increased online traffic as a result.”

For more information on the Community Champion scheme or to see if you can get involved head over to https://www.reading.ac.uk/about/working-with-the-community/yuor-community-champions.aspx.






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