[Kat Clements | Contributing Writer]
Carly Benton is Hertfordshire Students’ Union Assistant Student Activities Manager. She is in charge of a number of programmes including the Give It a Go! initiative.
Carly has been working for the University for three years, having taken the job after her gap year. She did a degree in Sports Psychology but, after volunteering herself, she decided that she wanted to work in volunteering. The role has expanded since then to include charity work as well as the various fun and social aspects of the Give it a Go! programme, although she would like to move the focus more on charity.
Carly’s job is hugely varied – the nature of the SU’s volunteering programme means that a huge variety of people, with different passions and interests, work with her on projects – whether they’re one-offs or long-term.
The Give it a Go! programme, which is a programme of events and activities aimed at engaging with students who otherwise don’t have much to do with volunteering or with the SU, is about both having fun and developing skills. Examples of recent events include workshops on developing an online self – useful for graduates looking for jobs – and trips to the Harry Potter studios. It’s about incorporating both societies and charities, and it’s about giving people a chance to try new things without huge time commitments.
“When I was at Uni someone said oh, you should go volunteer with this and I wasn’t sure,” Carly said. “Because when you’re a student you have so much to do, so many other commitments. But I went along and it was related to my degree, sports coaching, and I loved it, and then from there just got involved with other things.”
Volunteering doesn’t have to be boring or time consuming. She gives the example of Jailbreak, the recent event in which students compete to get as far away as possible from Hertfordshire.
Ultimately, Carly’s job is to make things possible for students. The SU’s programme is about facilitating what students want, and that’s why they offer so many programmes and events both on and off campus, and they work to allow any student with a passion or an interest to set up their own events or groups.