06 May SOUL of UTS: a student community leadership program
UTS SOUL Award – a co-curricular, student community leadership program based at UTS Shopfront at the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion – aims to build skills to enable UTS students to enact social responsibility and enhance the capacity of the community sector to drive positive social impact by increasing their access to quality volunteers.
As well as undertaking 90 hours of skilled volunteering within their disciplinary field and semi-skilled volunteering to develop their soft skills, ‘SOULies’ participate in transdisciplinary ‘skill up’ workshops at UTS where topics include communication, project management, ethical leadership, service and ‘Social Issues 101.’
First launched in 2013, students have now logged more than 135,000 hours volunteering with not-for-profit, for-purpose organisations and last year 5.6 per cent of UTS’s total student population were enrolled in SOUL.
Recently reviewed in line with UTS being signatory to the University Commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UTS 2027 Strategy around learning for a lifetime, partnership and community, and delivering positive social change, a ‘new’ UTS SOUL Award is being launched this month in National Volunteer Week.
The program now has three stages – the Badge, Award and Laureate – to build increasing capacity and confidence in students to become changemakers in their home communities and inspire ethical leadership actions.
SOULie Chau Au, who in 2018 was named a NSW Young Volunteer of the Year for his volunteering with Code Club Australia in setting up six clubs to teach young people coding skills, remembers that, on starting out, “I didn’t know how to start a Code Club and I didn’t feel confident.”
“Luckily, through UTS SOUL Award and attending the SOUL workshops I developed skills in starting up a volunteer program. I felt able to take on the challenge.”
“Volunteering is a rewarding and valuable experience,” he said. “This is about giving your time to give something to the community, and what you get back is experience, fun, learning and skills.”