Oxford students need to stop complaining about how busy they are and make time to volunteer

It’s about time that Oxford students started giving back to our local community more- and stopped using tute sheets and crew dates as an excuse

Oxford students are charitable, on the whole: RAG raises enormous amounts of money each term, there are loads of successful charity events in Oxford, and everything from student access schemes to mental health awareness campaigns are run or staffed by student volunteers. I’m saying that students who volunteer in Oxford do a seriously great job and Oxford Uni students more generally do care about charity.

I think we have a problem in Oxford whereby it’s easy to think that you’ve done your bit for society by giving a few pounds to charity and sharing causes on Facebook. We tell ourselves its because we’re already mad busy with sport, work, and a vibrant social calendar. I think we’ve all been guilty of falling into the trap of thinking that we’ve done enough; It’s a mistake I’ve often made myself.

Oxhub volunteers: not in a library or Park End, and not complaining either


The main excuse I’ve heard from friends to explain why they ‘can’t’ volunteer is time. Of course you can’t give up an hour a week, you’re at one of the best universities in the world and you have an essay/problem sheet and two crew dates this week. Bullshit. How about you spend one fewer hour sharing and liking videos of important causes on Facebook from the comfort of your bed/room/house? There is value in awareness of problems in society, and discussion of these problems online and in-person can lead to better understanding of the issues, but that’s as much as it’s possible to help on social media.


Share videos about homelessness: great you’re making people aware that it’s an issue, but if it’s actually something you care about then help at a charity for the Homeless in Oxford (for example, Oxford Gatehouse or Crisis Oxford or Oxford Homeless Pathways). If student welfare is something you care about then don’t just bewail the lack of mental health services for students, get involved with Peer Support or the Mind Your Head Campaign or Oxford Nightline. There are access schemes in colleges or Target Schools if you care about educational inequality, Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre if you want to support female survivors of sexual violence, and brilliant teaching schemes with children and adults in Oxford (Schools Plus or Jacari or KEEN or FELLOW) .

You can put in as little or as much time into volunteering as you want and there’s  very few people who actually ‘can’t’ spare at least an hour in a week if they could just be bothered.

If you’re a blues-rowing 6th year medic in Out of the Blue, then fair enough, I’ll admit you’re pretty busy. Yes it’s a cliché but volunteering is rewarding because you’re making an active difference to local life and it’s fun because you meet awesome, different people no matter what you’re doing. Go for it.

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