Taking stock of students’ hard work volunteering

Social Impact Studio staff members (from left) Amal Abdullahi (25) Stefan Prince (23), Maddi...
Social Impact Studio staff members (from left) Amal Abdullahi (25) Stefan Prince (23), Maddi Mitchell (22) and Jesikah Triscott (25). PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
For the first time a group of student volunteers at the University of Otago have kept track of the number of hours of work they have done — and they are jumping for joy at the results.

Social Impact Studio logged more than 42,000 hours of volunteer work from student groups on campus in 2019, ranging from planting to tutoring and cultural activities.

The volunteers, who decided to log their work to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the university, have also measured their work against the 17 United Nations Sustainable Goals.

"It’s a small gauge of what the collective impact of from the university really is," programme activator Maddi Mitchell said.

"We have never tracked volunteer hours before."

She calculated the figure was equivalent to someone working full-time over a 23 year period.

"Our biggest one was quality education, in which we recorded 19, 700 hours," she said.

That was followed by "good health and wellbeing" at 7000 hours, and "life on land", at 5000 hours, which involved work done by student conservation groups.

"Peace, justice and strong institutions" recorded 2000 hours.

Because of the number of volunteer groups operating on campus, Ms Mitchell believed 42,000 was a "fraction" of the true number of hours.

Among the strongest contributors to the volunteer effort were the university’s Maori centre, Otago University Students’ Association and the Aspire programme for schoolchildren.

Next year the studio hoped to beat the current record, she said.

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