How to get Involved with Activism at Uni
So, you’ve arrived in Liverpool and you’re tentatively ready to take what feels like the last step in becoming an actual, fully-formed person. No-one can lie to you and claim that being a fresher is all about being a well-informed model citizen (cue laugh track). However, it isn’t too early to start thinking about doing things that are not only completely CV-able, but are also A. a genuine help to your local community and B. even, dare we say it, enjoyable.
Whether you have just had that classic University awakening that broadened your political horizons or you have been annoying your flatmates with heated debate since day one, the University can offer you plenty to give you a useful outlet for it all.
Unsurprisingly, throwing yourself into society life is probably the most obvious and widely advertised opportunity that you will come across as a fresher. The Guild hosts a rainbow of politically and socially motivated societies. All the main political parties are represented, with Labour Students alone being one of the largest societies on campus last year. There are also more varied, but worthy causes representing specific issues (Help the Homeless, Friends of Palestine, People and Planet) or identities (Feminist Society, LGBT+ Society). Best of all, almost all will be selling themselves at Fresher’s Fair, making sign up as simple as approaching the person with the right clipboard.
It has to be said that the classic society scenario is a room in the Guild packed with people in a welcome meeting- but by meeting three, it has been narrowed down to an awkward handful. Don’t be put off by this, though. Being eager to take any opportunities and making friends with committee members (they are not as intimidating as they like to think they are!) can lead to all the cliché ‘unforgettable experiences’ you were promised in the welcome brochure.
Volunteer with the Guild
Beyond student-led societies, the Guild is overflowing with volunteer opportunities that can be your stepping stone into a particular area of interest. Would you love to support your fellow students in times of need? Nightline, the overnight listening service, is here to provide you with that experience, as well as extensive training. Passionate about caring for our environment? You can do everything from tending the Guild’s roof garden to helping educate children on environmental issues- and this is just a tiny selection of what’s on offer.
Once again, the holy grail of the Freshers Fair allows you the chance to express your interest, but there is also a list of available vacancies on the Guild website, where you can apply online.
Be active in the City
It can be intimidating stepping outside the already scary uni bubble, but the rewards of exercising your independence can make up for it. As we already know, the Guild has excellent links with a number of organisations, but they are not where activity in Liverpool begins and ends! In fact, the city is full of active organisations that you may never have even heard of that are doing good work and welcome extra help. There are many that host regular meetings, events and protests that work towards all aspects of social change. Some examples include Liverpool branches of Sisters Uncut (feminist organisation defending against cuts to domestic violence services), Merseyside Environmental Trust (raising and working with environmental issues) and Keep our NHS Merseyide (pretty self-explanatory!). That is, of course, hardly an exclusive list.
Sisters Uncut- https://www.facebook.com/SistersUncutLiverpool/
Merseyside Environmental Trust- firstname.lastname@example.org, 0151 794 3137
Keep Our NHS Public- https://twitter.com/KONPMerseyside , 0790 6973019
Have a Night Out
Who’d have thought it? You can sesh and sort of be an activist at the same time. Although your weekly stint to Quids In isn’t likely to help anyone (no, not even you). Keep an eye out for charity gigs and fundraising club nights where your fee will go to a good cause. Nationwide events such as Oxjam have been held multiple times in Liverpool, and fundraisers for more local charities, such as The Whitechapel Centre, have happened in a range of venues known to be student favourites. It doesn’t all have to be hard work!
As a first year, people everywhere are urging you to try anything and everything in the most overwhelming way possible, so it’s pretty unfair to expect you to choose a cause and loyally stick to it. That said, being both passionate and willing to commit is the winning combination with most of these options. Happy volunteering!