Students here at SUSU have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for activity days for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Southampton Hub has recently launched their Branch Up programme, which aims to provide activity days to children in the local area. These children will be partnered on a one-to-one basis with student volunteers from the University of Southampton, with the first activity day taking place on Saturday 14 March. Branch Up was originally set up by students in Oxford and has recently expanded to Southampton and London.

Branch Up is a community volunteering project led by Southampton students and supported by Southampton Hub, a local branch of the national charity Student Hubs which aims to inspire, connect and support students to make a difference during their time at university.

Caitlin Ripley, Branch Up Coordinator says, “We’re all really excited to be launching Branch Up in Southampton. Not only will the activity days be greatly beneficial to the children involved, allowing them access to new experiences in a positive social environments, but the volunteers will also benefit from the experience. Volunteering enables the students to develop personal skills, and we hope this will encourage them to take on more voluntary roles in the future, forging stronger links within the community. I’m really looking forward to seeing the project expand and grow and we can’t wait for the first activity day.”

Children will be partnered with their own individual student volunteer, who will become their mentor for the academic year. This encourages the kids to forge strong relationships, as well as helping improve their communication skills. The volunteers are offered training and support by Southampton Hub and each must take a child safeguarding course before attending an activity day, to ensure both the safety and positive participation of the children and help improve their future potential. This project enables them to gain experience with young people, as well as developing useful skills for the future.

One of the key factors of Branch Up is that it must be open to all and therefore free. This is the reason for launching the Crowdfunding campaign via Hubbub, with the aim of raising £700 to cover three exciting days out for up to twenty children. However, unless enough pledges are made, this money will not be received. If you are interested in donating or finding out more about the campaign, please visit southamptonhub.org/branchup or visit https://southampton.hubbub.net/p/Branch-Up/ to make a donation.

If you work for a local organisation or school and are interested in referring a child to Branch Up Southampton, please email BranchUpKids@southamptonhub.org.