Feeling charitable? There’s a society for that

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To occupy space as a boring uni student or similarly, to occupy time being bored is not an option – at least, not an option for us at Lancaster University. How anyone here can be bored or boring is beyond me when, according to the LUSU Activities website, there are 100 plus clubs and societies from which you can have your pick.

With options that range from a Freefall (skydiving) Society to a Tea and Biscuit Society to a Power Lifting Society, hopefully you’ve been able to find something that floats your boat – in fact, there is a Canoe Club.

One of the great things about all of these societies, according to Matt Windsor, LUSU Vice President (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies), is that in addition to doing their own activities, many of them raise money for charities.

Windsor defines charitable groups as, “People whose soul aim is to raise money for people who need it”. If you fit this description, you’re in luck. Among those 100 plus clubs and societies, there are four charity societies on campus you may want to consider looking into.

Amnesty International Society

If protecting human rights worldwide sounds like your type of after-school activity, look no further: Amnesty International Society is perfect for you.

“We do a lot of work campaigning, involving raising awareness about human rights and human rights violations that occur throughout the world, in some cases including in our own county,” Amnesty International member Jennifer Pope said. Pope added that the group also actively lobbies governments that are violating human rights, as well as puts on fundraisers for the broader Amnesty International.

Pope says this society has many events taking place this year, including a sponsored ‘sleep out’ in February for a campaign called “Still Human Still Here,” as well as an awareness raising campaign to find out what exactly Lancaster students know about human rights. “One event which I personally thought to be a fantastic success was the fair-trade fashion show which we did a couple of years ago, and which I hope for us to do again this year,” Pope said.

Need further encouragement? Pope explains why she joined this society, “I am aware that I have a lot of liberties that many other people do not share. I believe everybody should be treated fairly and have their human rights upheld. When I joined the Amnesty [International] society it’s because they were actively campaigning for human rights, something which I wished to be a part of, [and] campaigning can be easier and a lot of fun with a group of people around you.”

Amnesty International Society meets Mondays at 6 p.m. in Furness, LT3. For more information, e-mail them at: amnesty.lancs@googlemail.com or find them on Facebook.

RAG Society (Raising and Giving)

Do you have one charity that is meaningful to you, a friend, or a family member? If so you could give back to that charity through RAG.

Every year the members of Lancaster’s RAG branch get to nominate and vote on which local, national, and international charities they will donate to, says Naomi Hall, RAG’s Vice President. What is her favorite charity that RAG has supported? “It’s really hard to pick just one,” Hall said. “That’s why I love the RAG society because you don’t have to pick just one.”

Eileen Davison, RAG’s Publicity Officer, explains that RAG “…was formed in order to give students the opportunity to raise money for charity in fun and exciting ways. It allows students to come together, make new friends and have fun…and best of all, we manage to do this whilst raising money for some really good causes!”

RAG has numerous events including ‘RAG raids,’ where members go to different cities (sometimes in fancy dress) with buckets and collect spare change, bag packing in supermarkets, and volunteering at local homeless shelters. Of course, RAG Week is their biggest occasion – last year RAG raised £5000 for charity! This year RAG Week is Week Six and all proceeds go to the charities North-West Air Ambulance, The Gem Appeal, and Kids for Kids. “Another big event coming up, which was a favorite of RAG members last year, is the Lancaster Beer Festival,” Davison adds. “It’s scheduled from the third to the fifth of March this term.”

Why did Davison join RAG? “It really is a fun society. The first thing I did with RAG was go to Manchester on a RAG raid… dressed as a Dalmatian! There is never a dull moment! Another reason I joined was because I thought it would look really good on my CV. Many universities have a RAG society and therefore it is recognizable to employers. And as well as all these benefits for me, ultimately and most importantly, I’m benefiting those who need it most – those suffering from illness, poverty or hardship.”

RAG Society meets on Mondays of odd weeks (11, 13, 15 etc.) at 6:30 p.m. in Furness, LT2. For more information you can e-mail them at: ragsoc@hotmail.com or find them on Facebook.

Barnardo’s Society

Maybe you adore your younger brother or sister, maybe you love your small nieces and nephews, or maybe you have your own child. Or maybe not! Bottom line, if you’re passionate about children, why not help those in need by joining Barnardo’s: the “UK’s leading children charity” according to their website, barnardos.org.

A relatively new society on campus, according to Windsor, Barnardo’s Society has already been quite active. With a recent pre-Valentine’s Day fundraiser, the society was also a part of the Christmas Festival.

“£411.50 was raised through a raffle at Fylde Christmas Ball and a stall at Christmas Festival,” Kimberley Warrillow, President of Barnardo’s Society said. “At Christmas Festival there was a Wii snow-boarding challenge, pin the nose on Rudolph, guess the name of the teddy, and a raffle of toys that were donated from Mattel.”

Warrillow explains why she joined, “When the opportunity came to set up the society I was keen to do so. Barnardo’s works with children to improve their lifestyles no matter what their circumstance. I believe that every child deserves the chance to reach their potential and that a child should not be in a harmful situation.” Warrillow added, “It is my career aim to work with a charity in the future so I also thought this would be good experience of working with a charity.”

Barnardo’s Society holds meetings fortnightly. For more information you can e-mail them at: barnardos@lancaster.ac.uk or find them on Facebook.

Oxfam Society

Is helping the poor a cause near and dear to your heart? Much like RAG, Oxfam’s goal is to give as much as possible to the less fortunate.

Claire Erskine, Oxfam Society’s Secretary sums up the main purposes of the society: “Oxfam Society raises awareness about issues surrounding poverty and raises awareness about the campaigns Oxfam are doing throughout the year, such as robin hood tax, climate change, health and education.”

According to oxfam.org, this charity describes itself as: “A vibrant global movement of passionate, dedicated people fighting poverty together.” Taking a three-pronged approach, Oxfam’s website states that they, “concentrate on three interlinked areas of work: emergency response, development work, and campaigning for change.”

Who should join? “If students feel strongly about issues surrounding poverty and wish to make a difference, Oxfam is a great charity to get involved with,” Erskine said. “I joined Oxfam society because I want to do something active to help those that are affected by poverty and I think that Oxfam have been successful with their fundraising and campaigns.”

Oxfam Society meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Fylde, C34. For more information you can e-mail them at: oxfamlancaster@gmail.com or find them on Facebook.

Still want to be involved in charitable giving but prefer to do so on your own? Go for it! And get creative! Windsor recalls acting on his own charitable ambitions as a student. Dying his hair pink and then shaving it into a Mohawk, Windsor managed to raise over £350 for children in need. Disclaimer: hair dyeing and head shaving are most likely unnecessary for your own ventures.

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