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Aston's ACE volunteers

Friday 30th May

Aston's ACE volunteers

STUDENTS from Aston University are no strangers to volunteering. As National Volunteers Week starts on Sunday 1st June, the Aston ACE volunteer scheme will have been running for one year.

As a part of The Higher Education Active Community Fund (HEACF)*, ACE (Active Community Engagement) comes as a product of the long-established Student Tutoring programme and involves Aston student volunteers supporting sports, drama, art and music in the local community of Aston, Nechells, Handsworth and Lozells.

The aim of the ACE volunteers is to target schools with multiple disadvantages, high proportions of ethnic minority students and low further education (FE) and higher education (HE) participation rates. As a result, the ACE scheme hopes to:

• Build greater links between the University and the local community

• Create new volunteer opportunities for students

• Contribute to the lives of the young people of the local community

• Provide positive role models for young people, whilst aiming to reduce racial and cultural tensions

• Enable students to share their interests and use them to benefit and engage with young people

• Provide a much needed additional resource in inner-city schools

• Enhance student experiences whilst at university

• Increase participation rates of under-represented groups in FE and HE

"I volunteered to support a Saturday Morning Club at a local primary school in Birmingham," said Samina Naz, an ACE volunteer. "I helped the pupils with a variety of activities including ICT and arts and crafts. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience which has encouraged me to take part in more volunteer activities in the future."

The University already has a strong volunteer culture with a significant number of students involved in voluntary activities, particularly in the local community. HEACF builds upon the strong partnership that Aston has with local schools through Schools and Colleges Liaison work, including the Student Tutoring Project, through Local Leagues, Millennium Volunteers and other student volunteer schemes, and with national organisations such as Community Service Volunteers+.

Student Volunteer Co-ordinator Louise Mumford says "Aston student volunteers are excellent ambassadors and a credit to the University. Student volunteering is an important aspect of Aston life, with large numbers of students engaging in volunteering each year. Not only do our students have the chance to make a difference to the lives of local children, they gain new skills, enhance their employability, make new friends and most importantly have fun!"

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Marketing & Communications on 0121 204 4552 or email s.l.hoban@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

*The Higher Education Active Community Fund is a Government initiative to encourage staff and students to engage in volunteer activities in support of the local community. The initiative is located within the Outreach Office and builds upon links with schools and experience of running student volunteer activities. This provides new opportunities for Aston students to engage in volunteer activities supporting drama, arts, music and sports within the local community.

+For more information on these projects, please contact Louise Mumford on 0121 204 3000

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