Profile: Hannah Smith

It's Student Volunteering Week, so we had a chat with RAD president, Hannah Smith, about volunteering, fundraising, and why you should get involved!

To start off, can you tell us a bit about you? What course are you on, and what year of study are you in? What made you decide to study in Cornwall?

I do Zoology with Study Abroad, and I’m in my fourth year now. I came down to Cornwall because Exeter looked like a great university and Zoology only runs on this campus, so I didn’t get to pick between here and Streatham. I did my Study Abroad in Tasmania, and after going away for a year, I didn’t want to come back!

Can you tell us a bit about RAD? What sort of projects and events have you run in the past?

RAD is the raising and donating society on campus, where all the fundraising and charity work that goes on around campus is collaborated together and all the events run through it. We hold events for students to take part in, and students can also approach us with their own ideas, and we can help them with fundraising, finding volunteers and promoting their events.

One of the events we ran this year was LOST, which is where we take the students two hours away from campus in teams in a blacked out van, and then they have to hitchhike back to campus as quickly as possible. We’re also running Jailbreak later this term, which is basically the opposite; students have to get as far away from campus as they can in 36 hours. We’re always fundraising for a specific charity, and we have our charity of the year – this year it’s Mind, the mental health charity.

We also run challenges abroad. We’ve had trips going out to the Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro, and with East African Playgrounds. We’ve got ones closer to home too, such as the London to Paris cycle and the Budapest marathon. On top of that, we’re running the Rally4ShelterBox, which is a 370km relay around the Cornish coast raising money for the charity ShelterBox.  

How did you first get involved with RAD and student volunteering?

Myself and Amanda founded it in our second year, because while we had fundraising happening on campus, we didn’t have a society for it. I saw some of the fundraising events happening and I wanted to get involved, and then I was talking to Kristy Wallace in the FXU, and she proposed that we set up a Raising and Giving society.

What does volunteering mean to you?

I think it’s just an opportunity to give your time up for those who need it, whether it’s a group of people or the environment, and to make a difference. You also get to meet like-minded people and try new things, and you get to gain new skills that you might not have had the opportunity to develop otherwise.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite experiences that you’ve had volunteering?

Definitely Rally4ShelterBox. RAD have taken it on a couple of times now! It’s got a legacy; a lot of people who have done it before come back to Falmouth to take part in it again. You get to use any form of man powered transport, whether it’s running or swimming or kayaking, and we are sponsored by Skinners Brewery, so the baton that you pass on is a Betty Stoggs beer bottle.

This week is Student Volunteering Week; why do you think that it’s important for students to get involved with RAD and volunteering projects while they’re at uni?

Volunteering at university gives you opportunities in a whole other dimension which your degree alone doesn’t; you’re immersing yourself in new experiences, gaining skills you can use on your CV, and you might realise a passion for something you never even considered before. And it’s all for free!

Does RAD have any exciting events coming up?

We’ve got the Rally4ShelterBox in May, and Jailbreak on the 1st April. We’ve also got a RAD quiz in the first week of March; these are the main three events we’re running this term.

And finally, what would you say to any students who want to get involved with RAD, but are worried about balancing volunteering with uni work, and all of the other stresses of student life?

Volunteering doesn’t need to have a long term commitment. With RAD, we’re always looking for new people to get involved, but you can choose events on a one-off basis, so you don’t have to commit yourself to doing volunteer work in the long haul. But you really get out of it as much as you put in – I really feel like everyone can do it.

This profile was organised with the help of our Women’s Student Officer, Mackinlay Ingham.