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Graduate wins award for dedication to helping others

Posted on 27/11/2009

Rob Birks

At the ‘Vinvolved’ awards ceremony held in the 02 arena last night (26 November), Royal Holloway, University of London graduate Rob Birks was hailed the South East’s winner of the ‘Vinspired’ award for his volunteering work while studying at the College. Rob graduated from the Department of Media Arts last summer and in his final year alone completed more than 180 hours of volunteering.

Rob himself has suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyellitis, commonly knows as ME, where sufferers experience chronic fatigue both mentally and physically. The condition left him house-bound for two years but Rob managed to beat the illness and decided in his first year of university that he wanted to give something back to the community.

Rob says, “I wanted to put my new-found health to good use and volunteering gave me a chance to do that. The volunteering programme at Royal Holloway is great and it really gives you a chance to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise get to meet.”

He has special memories of working with the Spelthorne Disabilities group where he met and worked with so many “happy, smiling” children. On being told he had won the award, Rob says, “I was very surprised. I knew I had been nominated but I didn’t think it anything would come of it.”

Vinvolved is an independent charity that aims to inspire a new generation of young volunteers. They fund and support voluntary organisations all over England to create inspiring and diverse opportunities.

More than 850 Royal Holloway students are registered with the College’s Community Action volunteering programme. Community Action volunteering exists to connect, train and support students and staff seeking to volunteer in the local community.

Rob attributes the success to Volunteer Manager Phil Simcock, who sits down with all students to find them the right project for them. Rob says, “Phil is fantastic, he really listens to what your needs and helps you and the people who you help get the best out of the programme. We are very lucky to have Phil coordinating the team and a large part of the credit of my award should go to him.”

To find out more about volunteering at Royal Holloway, visit: http://www.rhul.ac.uk/services/volunteering/


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