Matilda’s involvement with Student Action at Manchester
Hi, I’m Matilda Coakley, a third year Religions and Theology student at the University of Manchester.
The University of Manchester provides loads of opportunities for volunteering and social responsibility. Since the start of my second year, I’ve been volunteering with the Student Action society which oversees seventeen different volunteering projects ran by students for the local community, and have really enjoyed getting involved with such a worthwhile and fun society.
In second year, I started volunteering with one of Student Action’s projects, Direct Access, which involved visiting a homelessness shelter for women and cooking them two-course meals each week. We made things like spaghetti Bolognese, chilli, bangers and mash, and things like brownies, apple crumble, and cookies for dessert, making sure to cater to the dietary requirements the women might have had. We would serve the women and speak to them about how they’re doing. The Direct Access project leaders would also arrange socials for us volunteers which was a nice way to celebrate the ways our group was helping to make a difference in Manchester.
I really enjoyed volunteering with Direct Access, so when I saw an advert on the Student’s Union website for a new Student Action co-chair I applied, and was offered the role. I then was re-elected as Chair for this academic year. Being the Chair of Student Action means I’m in a committee that helps coordinate and run the seventeen projects ran by our project leaders. The committee is made up of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Social Secretary, Training Coordinator and then coordinators for each of our project groups: Women, Homelessness, Refugee & Asylum Seekers, Children, Accessibility, Elderly, and Environment. Each of our projects fits into one of these groups and has its own project leaders and volunteers. As Chair of Student Action it’s really nice to see the different ways our projects are helping people and how different people can use their skills to volunteer and make a positive impact, be it using financial skills as Treasurer, organisation skills as a Project Leader or creative skills as a volunteer.
My role as Chair is really varied. I arrange committee meetings where we discuss how the projects are doing, upcoming events and how we can help support our project leaders and volunteers. I also help coordinate our monthly newsletter which our Social Secretary compiles and posts on our Instagram page, which is a great way to acknowledge the achievements of our projects and create a sense of community within the society.
The best parts of being Chair are planning termly socials and attending Societies Fairs. Before Christmas, we held a social in 532, the Student’s Union bar, which committee members, project leaders, and volunteers all came to. I also create rotas for Societies Fairs, which are held each semester to allow societies to promote themselves and recruit more members. I set our stall up with posters and decorations and talk to people about how they can get involved in volunteering which is really nice.
Being part of Student Action has been a really good way for me to get involved in social responsibility. It has made me more aware of the issues faced by people in the local community and the importance of trying to make a positive impact for a range of groups. There really is something for everyone and I’ve really enjoyed getting to put my skills to use to make a difference and meet people at university that want to do the same.