Virtual buddying, the best way for students to volunteer

Volunteering as a student can be tricky. You’re juggling deadlines, reading lists, and lectures – finding time to give back can be tough.

Sense’s Virtual Buddying is an easy way for students to find a volunteering role that they can commit to from the comfort of their own home with one hour a week. Here’s how it works.

A young man with a beard and glasses smiling as he types on a laptop.

What is Virtual Buddying?

Sense matches volunteers and disabled people to meet once a week on Zoom or over the phone.

You might play a game, watch a film, try baking, or craft something. You can teach guitar, learn sign language, or chat about your week. It’s up to you!

The important thing is that it’s all about having fun! The programme is designed for volunteers and their buddies to make friendships and form strong connections. 

Why’s it important?

The coronavirus pandemic and recent lockdowns have worsened social isolation and loneliness – in particular for people with deafblindness and disabilities. Shielding vulnerable people often comes at the cost of social interaction, which is a crucial part of wellbeing and mental health.

Saihan is a participant on the Virtual Buddying scheme. He explains what it means to him.

”It’s really important that Maria is there because she helps me. She’s someone to talk to outside of my family. It’s really nice to speak to someone or play some games or watch interesting films. Thank you Maria, and all the other Sense Buddies out there for all your hard work and dedication!”

Saihan

How does it work?

  1. After you’ve expressed your interest, Sense will call you to get to know you and your interests. This will help the team match you with the right buddy.
  2. Sense will send some e-learning courses to prepare you. You’ll also get access to optional communication courses, letting you learn some British Sign Language and extra communication skills if you’d like to.
  3. Time for your first session with your buddy! Sense will join you on your first call with some prepared activities to ensure it gets off to a great start.
  4. After that, you can schedule your weekly sessions with your buddy at a time that suits. If you’d like to pick up some new skills, you can request arts, sports and wellbeing activity materials from Sense. Want to learn Tai Chi with your buddy? How to dance, paint, or play an instrument? Sense can set you up!

Bethany studies PTUK at Leeds Becket University. She volunteers with Olivia — here’s what buddying has meant to her:

“I just know that on a Thursday I’m going to be laughing at the end of my day. Its just a really positive part of my week. Sense sent a sports kit to us at the start, but we’ve also done dancing and baking. Virtual Buddying has also given me more resources and idea for my other work in family support.”

Bethany

If you’re volunteering with someone under 18, you’ll also need to complete a DBS check.

How can you get involved?

Click the button to fill in a short registration form. Sense will call or email you and then send you what you need to get started.