Amidst the rest of your Freshers’ Week excitement, you will all have visited the Freshers’ Fair last week. You had to listen to the offerings of tons of student societies and clubs (if you were not lucky enough to run away from their stalls straight away). Maybe you signed your email — or someone else’s — up for a few of the many different activities crowded under the roof of Exam Schools. With everything going on in Oxford, how have you decided to spend your precious free time?
While many societies have a clear message about what they do, like a film society or a bell-ringing group, this is not always the case for charities. Objectives such as making a difference, volunteering and social change can seem too vague and hard to achieve. Yet at the Oxford Hub, we want to change this view. We connect you with student groups that share your ‘causes’ and interests, empowering you to have a positive social impact during your time at Oxford, enabling you to explore, and challenge, the social and environmental issues that are most important to you.
What is most special about Oxford Hub is that there is no common ‘hub type’. You don’t have to dream about working for a charity, or spending 20 years of your life in South America saving rain forests (though that would be great).
There is only one quality shared by those involved with the Hub, and that is being sensitive to, and aware of, what is happening around us. Just take a look around. Is it homelessness that makes you wish you could make a difference? Or educational inequality? Climate change? Don’t think that you have no power to have a positive social impact simply because you’re a student.
Our ‘Ethical Network’ consists of more than 40 groups working in many different fields, from environment and sustainability to human rights, international development and social entrepreneurship, providing op- portunities to learn about social action at the ‘front line’ and instigate meaningful change. Through volunteering, connecting with campaigns, providing training, and running events and conferences, we believe student-led action can and will make a difference.
Every week from today, the Hub will bring you student-thinking on a challenge we face as a society, via our blog on cherwell.org. Two of our current initiatives may have caught your attention: One Hour A Week, and The Ethical Guide To Oxford. The One Hour a Week campaign, which we’re running in collaboration with OUSU, aims to highlight that everyone has time to make a difference during their time at university.
We have a range of volunteering opportunities that can take up as little as one hour a week of your time. If every Oxford student gave just one hour a week of their time in term, that would be a total of over half a million volunteer hours over the year! Check out onehouraweek.co.uk to see what interests you.
Secondly, on Friday of 1st week (17th October), we are launching the first Ethical Guide to Oxford. The booklet consists of tips and ideas for living a more ethical student life and suggests many cafes, shops, restaurants, green spaces, entertainment venues and more that you may want to explore. You can find a copy of the guide online (via our website), in your JCRs, or by dropping into our HQ above the Turl Street Kitchen. Many of the great places in here are ones you might not stumble across in your daily march across Oxford, and we even cover places in East Oxford and Jericho so people liv- ing out are included too.
The work of the Oxford Hub is varied, interesting, fulfilling, and most importantly, fun. Our key message is that you don’t have to be a ‘charity person’ or tirelessly devoted to ethical causes to make a difference. From as little as one hour a week, you can have a real impact on an issue that you feel passionate about.
So, accept our challenge — take that one hour a week you spend mooching around on Face- book, putting off essay writing, or watching cat videos and use it to get involved. You may not know it before you start, but volunteering can be incredibly rewarding in terms of experience, relationships and skills.