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Student Switch Off volunteer impact

July 1, 2020

Student Switch Off ambassadors are key to promoting and embedding sustainable behaviours across their residences, achieving carbon reduction as well as building transferable skills for themselves.

A group of Student Switch Off volunteers wearing their branded t-shirts

Student Switch Off, our student sustainability campaign, ran in 30 UK and EU universities in 2019-20, reaching nearly 100,000 student and saving 830 tonnes CO2 in participating residences.

As part of the campaign, nearly 400 student volunteers were trained as Student Switch Off campaign ambassadors to raise awareness on sustainability issues within their own university residence. The training covers practical tips for sustainable living, as well as communication techniques and project planning activities, but it's up to the ambassadors themselves to plan meaningful and engaging activities to influence their friends and flat-mates over the year.

"I volunteered for student switch off as I wanted to able to help the environment by giving hints and tips to hundreds of students on campus on how to save energy. During my time as a volunteer, I developed my communication skills as I had to convey the views and values of student switch off in an easy and understandable manner for all students in order for them to take the advice on board" Brunel Ambassador.

According to our ambassador surveys at the end of Terms 1 and 3, 90% of ambassadors took more action to be sustainable themselves in their residences as a result of Student Switch Off, and 86% encouraged friends and flatmates to do the same. 91% of ambassadors identified new skills they were able to develop through their volunteering, including communication, organisational skills, team-working, leadership skills, and creativity.

For the first time in 2019-20, ambassadors in the UK were able to apply for microgrants of up to £50, sponsored by Endsleigh Insurance, to implement their own sustainability initiative in their hall or college.  Over the year ambassadors applied for microgrants to run a range of activities including awareness raising stalls, events, competitions and promotions.

At the University of Nottingham, a group of five ambassadors worked together to hold an energy-themed quiz raffle to raise awareness on the financial cost of energy wastage across campus, whilst raising money for charity and offering sustainable prizes to raffle winners. Student Switch Off was a recognised module for the Nottingham Advantage Award, providing both formal recognition for volunteers as well as event management and communication skills.

 "As a result of this project, I am more convinced that I want to make sustainability a key element in my career: I will continue to find opportunities to volunteer where I can, as well as using my science degree to work on greener solutions for our future." Imperial College Ambassador.

During 2020-21 Student Switch Off will be developing our ambassador programme further with many new elements planned, including training to conduct residence audits and implement the resulting sustainability recommendations, national virtual meet-ups, and new online learning modules.

If you are interested in bringing Student Switch Off to your campus, please contact Jade.Monroe@sos-uk.org.