Scholar volunteers rise to 35th anniversary volunteering challenge

Scholar volunteers rise to 35th anniversary volunteering challenge

Gardening, teaching, helping animals... Altruistic scholars' volunteering efforts were recognised and celebrated at our annual volunteering awards ceremony at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last week.

At the start of Chevening's 35th anniversary year, all scholars were set the challenge of completing 35 hours of volunteering during the year, and 56 scholars completed this challenge.

But this wasn't the only highlight from another excellent year for the Chevening volunteering programme. It was another record-breaking year for the Class of 2018, with almost 1,500 more hours of volunteering recorded this year compared with last year.

Congratulations should go to scholar Seema Dahabrah, who recorded 387 hours of volunteering this year - more than any other scholar.

Seema volunteered with North East Solidarity and Teaching (NEST), a student-run volunteer project offering free English lessons to the refugee community in the region. She somehow managed to fit this in alongside studying Medical Sciences at Newcastle University.

Seema shared her experiences with other scholars during our scholar volunteers' panel: 'I learnt a lot from the refugees. I was inspired to learn about their stories. Despite the background that they came from, they still had hope and they didn't give up.'

They didn't speak English at all. Seeing them smile, speak English, and be part of the community makes me happy.


Scholars have volunteered with a wide range of causes this year in the UK, reflecting a diversity of passions and interests across the year group. Here are the top four causes:

Scholars also heard from representatives from two charities that Chevening has held volunteering events with this year. Jessica Massucco from Trees for Cities spoke about the importance of her organisation's work:

We’re all about encouraging adults and children to feel connected to nature, to appreciate nature, and protect it as well. Definitely plant a tree if it’s something you haven’t done before. It’s really important for us to do this all over the planet to create a cleaner, greener world for us all to live in.

-- Jessica Massucco, Trees for Cities

There's nothing more British than standing in a field with a spade in your hand, digging away in the snow and in the rain.

-- Ben Coates, Head of the Scholarships Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Grainne Wokes from MHA Hillside Care Home told scholars how important volunteers were to their organisations:

We couldn’t do what we do without the volunteers that we have. At our care home we have 65 residents with a range of complex health needs. Our youngest is 26 and our eldest has just celebrated her 100th birthday.

Well done to all of this year's scholar volunteers. We challenge the Class of 2019 to do even better!