Students Staff

6 July 2018

From baking cakes to running a national volunteering organisation

Filed under: News — mh17332 @ 2.35 pm

A psychology student has made her mark on volunteering in Nigeria by founding an organisation which matches potential volunteers with worthy projects across the country.

When she joined Essex in 2016 Rasheedat Olarinoye had no experience of volunteering, but after baking cakes to raise money for Syrian refugees she was bitten by the volunteering bug.

She was soon an active member of Essex Enactus – part of a global student network involving 1500 universities in 40 countries, all working to improve the living standards of millions of disadvantaged people through community projects. Having grown up in Nigeria, before her family moved to the UK, Rasheedat knew there was not a strong culture of volunteering there.

“Being part of the Vteam at Essex made it very easy for me to get involved in volunteering. I knew that many of my friends in Nigeria would be interested in volunteering, but just didn’t know how to go about it. That’s how I came up with the idea of bringing potential volunteers together with projects which could benefit from their time.”

The Volunteering for All website was born. But not content with matching volunteers with projects,   Rasheedat busied herself raising money for a refugee camp in Lagos. In just a week she raised enough money to feed 200 people with a special celebration meal to mark the end of Ramadan and recruited volunteers, including her own mum, to cook and serve the food.

She has since set up three other projects in Nigeria and works with 25 not-for-profit organisations, providing volunteers for their projects across the country, including one which helps disadvantaged children improve their literacy skills.

Rasheedat has got so much out of her volunteering experience, she would recommend other students to follow suit. As she explained: “It’s not just something to put on your CV, you get so much out of volunteering. You meet like-minded people and can get involved in projects which make a difference. There is so much going wrong in the world, but there’s so much you can do to help other people.

“It was like walking into a shop full of candy when I realised the opportunities volunteering offered.”

In her first year, Rasheedat clocked up more than 150 hours of volunteering, earning her a Gold Big Essex  award.  So far this year she has amassed more than 500 hours, including on-going work with Enactus, running Volunteering for All, involvement in the Islam and Psychology Societies and working for Nightline, the support service  run by students for students, which was founded in Essex and now has branches at universities across the UK.




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