Nurturing student wellbeing is equally as important as developing academic abilities at Leeds.
And in Rooted – the University Union’s community food project – there has been considerable growth in the number of people seeking to volunteer for this pioneering project.
As an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of University life, Rooted supports local biodiversity, improves employability skills for students and creates strong links between them, the University and the wider community.
Speaking in the greenhouse of the sustainable roof garden – perched on top of the Student Union building – Kate Kirkpatrick, a part-time project assistant with Rooted, said: “There is an incredible sense of calm and wellbeing here, which students find really attractive. It can be daunting moving away from home to University. You can get stuck in the bubble of student life, but this is the perfect escape from all the academic pressures you can face. We have also been able to refer students on to other appropriate services, if needed, such as the Student Advice Centre.”
Second-year English and Music student, Liberty Anstead, first volunteered more than a year ago. She has enjoyed the experience so much she is now preparing to take up a year-long work placement with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Liberty said: “I come here because it’s so relaxing and meditative.
“I absolutely love working with Kate and the rest of the team. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. It’s such a nice escape from being sat at a computer studying. It’s definitely the best thing I have done here. It has also expanded my horizons, introducing me to other organisations I have got involved with, like the Real Junk Food Project.”
Volunteer drop-in sessions are staged twice a week, and are also open to staff and the general public.
Kate added: “We find this creates a really nice mix of people, from all sorts of backgrounds and age groups. People come along for as little as ten minutes at a time between lectures. We have loved having Liberty as part of the team, and now she is helping us develop our salad growing enterprise, which is very exciting.”
This success story is just one example of how the University of Leeds has achieved its ranking of third in the UK in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. Find out more here.