#UniForReading: Reading students helping most vulnerable local young people

Design, light pale green, shapes, green and blue overlapping

Our students have been volunteering during lockdown to help some of the most vulnerable young people in Reading.

Our Community Champions scheme was set up in response to the pandemic and based on requests for help from community organisations in Berkshire.

70 students have signed up to the new scheme which matches potential volunteers and Berkshire-based charities to help meet local needs. Students Romilly and Jay have both have been placed with organisations providing support for children and young people in vulnerable circumstances.

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

The programme is run by Parents and Children Together, a Reading-based adoption charity which provides a range of support to families. Like many charities, PACT was put under additional pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Romilly met with support workers at the charity on Zoom to discuss the support she could provide. She has compiled and redesigned support literature for the charity and hopes to do more.

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.”

Helping at the YMCA

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

Jay has been helping the YMCA with their social media and said the best thing about volunteering as a Community Champion is “working with great people and having something valuable to do during lockdown.” It has also given him some food for thought in the future: “I’m 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.”

You can find out more information on our Community Champion webpages.#UniForReading

The University of Reading is proud to be part of the town of Reading and makes a valuable contribution to the local area. We work closely with local community groups and organisations to support the wider objectives of the town.

Find out more about the ways that the University works in partnership with Reading organisations here and businesses here, and the economic and social contribution that the University makes to the Thames Valley region here.

Join in the conversation on social media using #UniForReading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *