Home to volunteering at Essex SU
Do good, feel good and make lifelong friends
From animal welfare to art, creative writing to teaching – there’s a variety of projects for you to get involved with.
You’ll meet others, gain transferable skills and give your CV an upgrade while helping the local community.
Oh, and did we mention we’re award winners too! In 2023 VTeam were awarded the King’s Award for Voluntary Service*.
Be a part of something. Join our family of student volunteers.
Welcome to VTeam.
*the highest national award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
WHY SHOULD I VOLUNTEER?
Whether it's with animals, children, refugees or simply doing litter-picking, volunteering makes huge difference to our local community. It’s a great way of making new friends, gaining skills and experience, and boosting your wellbeing.
Volunteering with VTeam opens the door for two awards that recognise your hard work and dedication. These can be listed on your CV, making you more attractive to future employers.
- The Big Essex Award - the University’s employability and skills award which aims to help identify all the skills you've developed during your time at Essex
- The Volunteering Awards - our annual awards night where we recognise the year's best Session Leader, Communications Officer, Project Leader, Regular Volunteer and more
LOG YOUR HOURS
If you want recognition and awards for your volunteering you need to log your hours.
Big Essex Award units can’t be verified without the hours logged on Gradintel as evidence of your achievements.
Hours logged also helps us demonstrate the massive impact we make both out in the community and on campus.
Plus, when you graduate and you want to demonstrate your skills and experience to employers, you can use your logged volunteering hours as evidence of all the amazing extracurricular stuff you achieved. VTeam can provide evidence of volunteering to employers, you just have to log your hours.
Watch these videos for help on how to log your hours:
Head here for more help logging your hours.
VTEAM SUCCESS STORIES
Obvs we're going to tell you VTeam is the best, so here are some past students to tell you what they think.
Member of Lend a Hand
Member of Lend a Hand
Member of RTP
Member of Einstein
Member of Art Club
START YOUR OWN PROJECT
If you have a particular passion you want to explore, get in touch about setting up an opportunity in this area.
START A NEW project
VTeam is part of your SU membership! If you’re a current registered student at Essex, then you’re basically already part of VTeam. You can join our regular projects and one-offs simply by signing up through your Gradintel account. As soon as you’ve completed that step we send you all the information you need to take part.
Whatever the project, you just need to register for it through Gradintel. VTeam projects are split into two main types – Regular Projects, and One-Off Projects. Our Regular Projects are run by student exec teams (or ‘committees’), and generally take place once a week. When you register for one of the Regular Projects, you’ll be emailed by that project’s Communications Officer to welcome you and explain next steps. You’ll be asked to read and acknowledge a Volunteering Agreement which covers basic conduct and expectations. Some projects will require further training - for example, our schools-based projects require all volunteers to complete a bespoke safeguarding course. Once you’ve completed those initial steps, you’ll be marked as ‘Ready to Volunteer’ and you’ll be contacted on a weekly basis by the Communications Officer to invite you to sessions. One-offs are different in that they are single events, and they are managed by permanent staff in the VTeam office. When you register for one of these, you’ll be contacted by our team with any further steps. You’ll also be sent a calendar invite which you’ll need to accept. Before you take part in any VTeam project, remember to collect your free t-shirt from SU reception!
The first thing you should do is get in touch with us! Although we generally try and recruit the following year’s VTeam Committees between term 2 and the summer, there’s never a bad time to apply or make an expression of interest. We sometimes have available roles during the year too, where some projects don’t have a full team. Playing a leading role in a VTeam Regular Project is an extremely rewarding way to spend your time at Essex. Our projects have a huge benefit to the community on and off campus, and it’s a brilliant way to gain transferable skills and experience, as well as to make new friends and build relationships. You’ll be part of a wider community of Essex students who play pivotal roles in making a positive difference to the world around them. If you want to know more about all of the available roles and projects, then drop us an email – we’re always happy to meet with students to discuss options in detail too.
If you’re taking part in a one-off then don’t worry, we’ll log your hours for you! We take a register of all the students that have taken part, and we then log hours for all participants on Gradintel. It’s the same for regular volunteers taking part in regular project sessions. Unless you hold an exec position – e.g. Project Leader, Comms Officer, Session Leader – then we will log your hours for you. For any other activities or roles that are voluntary, but aren’t managed directly by VTeam – e.g. Peer Mentors, Sports and Society Execs, any external volunteering – you’ll need to log the hours yourself. Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to log hours. If you ever need any support with logging hours, please feel free to email us.
Gradintel is the name of the platform that Essex, and many other universities, use to track and record extracurricular activities and achievements. Chart My Path sits within Gradintel, and is the name Essex University uses for the scheme that tracks and records any volunteering or extracurricular achievements. It’s where students can discover and register for activities, and where you submit relevant activities for verification towards the Big Essex Award and gain recognition for the activities you complete that show up on your digital transcript. It’s easiest to think of Gradintel and Chart My Path as essentially the same thing – Gradintel is the name of the service and website, and Chart My Path is basically the Essex-specific name of the service provided through Gradintel. All Essex students are automatically given a Gradintel account. You need to activate your account using your Essex email address. When you first start at Essex, you should find an email in your inbox which prompts you to activate your Gradintel account. You need to activate your account before you can do anything else. If you think you haven’t been given a Gradintel account, or have any questions about Gradintel or Chart My Path, please feel free to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, absolutely! There are a few ways that volunteering can be recognised through Big Essex Award. For general volunteering, there are VTeam 3, 4, and 5 unit activities. As you log more volunteering hours, you become eligible for more units. There are also units attached to volunteering roles – for example, if you are a Project Leader for a VTeam Regular Project, there is a separate set of units to recognise this. This is the same for voluntary roles in leading sports clubs, societies, and Rebel. These role-based units require you to have volunteered a certain number of hours, but any hours you do over and above this requirement can then be logged against the VTeam 3,4, and 5 unit modules for Big Essex. If you do volunteering outside of the University – for example, if you volunteer with a local organisation like Guides and Scouts – then you can log these hours under the ‘Community / External Volunteering’ activity on Gradintel. You can get recognition for any volunteering you do during your studies, not just the volunteering that you do through the SU or University. We’re all too aware that all the Big Essex Award stuff can be confusing, so if you need any clarification or guidance you can always check out their website - or email them email@example.com
For any international students who are studying here under a visa, you may be subject to restrictions on the number of hours of work you can do in a week. There is a lack of clarity on the absolute definitions and differences between work and volunteering, or “voluntary work”. In cases where, for instance, you are restricted to 20 hours of work, there is a chance that these hours might include volunteering, depending on the nature of the activity. If you need help understanding your visa terms and conditions you can always talk to SU Advice. There’s also immigration and visa information available on the University’s own website. Feel free to get in touch with us at VTeam if you want to find a way of volunteering on a regular basis that could fit in with any time constraints or limitations imposed by your visa conditions.
The Volunteering Exec is a group of exceptional students who work to better represent the needs and wants of students specifically related to volunteering at Essex. We have representatives for each area of activities, as well as reps for Parliament, Accessibility and Welfare, and One-Off Projects and Events. They seek to improve collaboration between different strands of our student community, and act as points of feedback and information on volunteering for students. If you are interested in being part of the Volunteering Exec, or would like to know more, please drop us an email.