Helping Hand - 20/09/2021
Helping Hand, a student action group at the University of Sheffield, has been providing outreach support to people on the streets in the city centre for the past few years. The group takes a lead on activities related to homelessness for the student body, organising fundraising and donation campaigns, and helping raise awareness of issues related to people living and begging on the streets.
Before Covid hit, students involved in Helping Hand completed 37 outreach walks, and had 122 meaningful conversations with people on the streets in the 2019-20 academic year. Lockdown changed everything for the group, and working with the students, the volunteering team at University of Sheffield Students’ Union had to adapt the opportunities available for students. A digital offer became the norm, with events switching to virtual, including Bummit, and a planned Sleep Out, and face-to-face volunteering put on hold.
Representatives from both universities continued their involvement with the Street Outreach Forum during lockdown, and Helping Hand continued to share student focused advice and updates via their Facebook page. In March 2020, Steve Clark from the Sunday Centre joined the group for a virtual session, to talk about the 2020/21 winter plan, and the ongoing impact and effects of Covid.
Watch here: https://fb.watch/844TGbN2yK/
As the 2021/22 academic year begins in Sheffield, Helping Hand and the volunteering team are hoping to restart the face-to-face outreach walks, along with offering wider fundraising and volunteering opportunities. The Students’ Union volunteering team will hold their ‘Action Weeks’ during November’ with one of the themes dedicated to homelessness, to encourage more students to engage with the issues and work together to devise practical ways to support services and service users.
We’ll share more from Helping Hand over the coming months, as the volunteers restart their outreach sessions and adapt to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.
Alison Wise for Help us Help, Sept 2021