Category Archives: Helping the community

Amazing people doing great things locally, nationally and internationally and opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved with community projects.

SVA Big Give on 4 March

On Saturday 4 March 2017, during UC Orientation Week, the Student Volunteer Army is heading to South New Brighton, Christchurch, to carry out a large-scale volunteering event called the SVA Big Give.

The SVA Big Give vision is to see 1,000 UC students, as well as community members and groups, event partners and sponsors, sports teams and politicians, including the Mayor of Christchurch.

The project location is Rocking Horse Road Spit in South New Brighton, a suburb that was badly hit by the earthquakes and which has dealt with other major blows in regards to insurance and sea level rise.

SVA Big Give volunteering will involve:

  • restoration of the dunes
  • repair of walking tracks on the spit and beach access-ways
  • weed control
  • removal of rubble from earthquake-damaged seawalls
  • the creation of a new picnic table area.

The event will be a great opportunity for students to get stuck in, meet new people and make a real difference in the community. SVA will also provide all volunteers with a free BBQ lunch at a central hub set up in the reserve, with entertainment from a number of kiwi musicians.

This is the first time the SVA Big Give’has been run and it will be the largest mobilisation of volunteers since the initial earthquakes – we hope you will join us to be part of SVA history!

If you’d like to come along, register on Facebook or download the SVA app from the app store.

Downloading the app:

  1. Search ‘SVA’ on the app store
  2. Download the free SVA app
  3. Login with the same details you used to sign up to SVA at clubs day or create a new account
  4. View our upcoming events and join the Big Give event
  5. At the event, show us your QR code to scan in to get your volunteer hours credited (your verified hours can appear on your Co-curricular Record and if you are in a hall it will contribute hours to help your hall win the interhall volunteer shield).

Big Give

UCSA HELP Volunteer applications closing soon!

UCSA HELP volunteers are a team of up to 12 senior Law, Psyc and Social Work student volunteers (3rd year and above) who are the first port of call when students visit the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team.

They conduct the initial interview, then go on to assist the team to find the best course of action. They also get the opportunity to discover the inner workings of UC’s policies and assist in drafting documents and information sheets.

If helping out your fellow students while gaining some awesome experience sounds like something you’d be interested in, then fill out the application at and send it along with a cover letter, CV and academic transcript to any time before 5pm on Friday 25 November. You will need to have your referee send their letter separately through to this email address by the same date, in support of your application.

Volunteers will be required for two hours per week during term time, throughout the academic year. All successful applicants will need to attend a client interviewing training day which will be held prior to the semester’s start (on a Saturday in February 2017).

Any questions please contact Catherine at

Healing the world, one student at a time


Associate Professor of Community Engagement Dr Billy Osteen, Director of the UC Community Engagement Hub at the University of Canterbury, talks about students coming from around the world to help heal Christchurch.

“What happens when you immerse students from Europe, New Zealand, and the United States into the exciting and innovative atmosphere of post-quake Christchurch through the University of Canterbury course CHCH101: Rebuilding Christchurch?

In addition to their completion of over 1500 hours of service with 15 different community partners each semester, University of Canterbury (UC) students leave the course with Healing Proposals that seek to improve specific aspects of specific communities. For many students, their Proposals have prepared them to make a difference and ready to respond to opportunities when they presented themselves.

Two former CHCH101 students who particularly illustrate this in quite different, yet related, ways are Jessica Weston and Felicity Powell.

Jessica was a student at the University of Illinois who spent the first semester of 2013 at UC. During her time in CHCH101, Jessica was inspired by meeting Jason Pemberton, one of the original leaders of the Student Volunteer Army, and devoted her Healing Proposal to establishing something similar back home. Little did she know that she would be in the same position as the UC SVA leaders a few months later when she was back in Illinois.

In November of that year, Jessica’s hometown of Washington, Illinois, was devastated by a tornado causing thousands of people to lose their homes and possessions. She quickly went into action on her university campus and within a week of the disaster had collected and delivered thousands of dollars of necessary supplies.

Jessica attributes her actions to her time at UC.

“CHCH101 gave me the urgency and empowerment to do something to help my hometown when disaster struck. I walked away from CHCH101 a better person for many reasons. I fully understood the power young adults could have in their communities and in disaster relief efforts. I understood how to take my talents and passions and contribute them to a greater cause.”

Felicity was a UC student who took CHCH101 during the summer school session in 2015. During her time in CHCH101, she focused on the intersection of individuals and their communities and environments. This interest led to a shift in her studies toward a focus in Geography, which was especially evident in her Healing Proposal of an interactive guidebook to Christchurch.

Her intention was to create a way for people to be engaged with their surroundings and with those around them. Starting with one mock-up book, Felicity has now started a company and created nine versions of the book for students and teachers from Australia, China, Japan, Nepal, UC, and the US who have been in Christchurch for service-related experiences.

Like Jessica, Felicity asserts that her CHCH101 experience was instrumental in these achievements.

“I took CHCH101, which is a course all about Christchurch and community engagement. It turned my life upside down! As part of the course I drafted an interactive guidebook to Christchurch – six months later I started a company called Re:Edit with it. Now I’ve produced nine books, helped teach courses and workshops, and I ran a successful fundraising campaign. I couldn’t have done it without the support from UC.”

 Jessica, Felicity, and the more than 700 students who have taken CHCH101 have not only served as great UC ambassadors through their service in the community during the course, many have also gone on to make significant impacts in communities both near and far.”