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"I found that I could make an actual positive difference!"

We asked Holly, a Green Impact Project Assistant (GIPA) at the University of York about volunteering with Green Impact in 2019-20, and what volunteering in 2020-21 looks like!

Why I originally choose to be a GIPA?

Understanding the ever-increasing importance of being environmentally conscious and sustainable I discovered Green Impact through a stall at last year's Fresher's Fair. After speaking with the wonderful representatives I found that I could make an actual positive difference while gaining fundamental CV volunteering experience conveniently and locally on the University Campus.

My experience volunteering in 2019-20

Last year I was partnered up with the Library and Archives team, where I implemented sustainability programs and schemes throughout the library following guidance from the Green Impact team and online resources. From developing a Sustainability Statement to monitoring temperatures, there was a wide range of activities that helped you identify and find solutions to help make your department greener. Not only did this make a positive impact on the sustainability footprint of the library but also made me more comfortable in communicating with staff, who were all so supportive, and I got to feel familiar with the library's resources.

So, why did I choose to take part again?

My project work last year granted me the ability to spot opportunities for improvement and feel productive in a cause that is very close to my own beliefs. I felt respected within my team and made strong connections and friendships. The feeling of making a positive impact on campus and developing important skills motivated me to continue and push myself this year. Green Impact also offers rewards within the program to departments at the end of the year. After achieving a silver with my team I was ready to join again this year and achieve gold.

How will COVID effect volunteering as a GIPA?

The current threat of COVID this year has overshadowed many other global threats and although rightly so, the other issues such as sustainability and the climate crisis are still looming over society. More now than ever, the world is facing the ever-growing threat of global warming. Green Impact allows me to keep motivated and still contribute to green solutions even with the obstacles COVID has provided. COVID also has demonstrated the increasing importance of virtual cooperation, a skill which will be crucial this year for our project. Taking action online this year opens up new opportunities to address outstanding issues. It also allows teams to innovate and develop detailed plans that will be implemented in the future, to make important changes even from the comfort of your own home.

Key skills I have developed and continue to develop this year

I found that being a Green Impact Project Assistant builds upon many skills that you learn about during the York Award. As a student, assigning tasks to members of staff can initially seem daunting, yet this program allowed me to develop confidence and leadership skills. Through the development of my authentic communicator and relationship builder attributes, I feel confident in approaching staff to do tasks while retaining a level of professionalism and respect. It also allows you to practice being independent and creative, running your own events such as when I ran a Fair Trade stall in the library, and also allowing you to develop transferable skills that help build your CV and are brilliant to mention in interviews. I came away last year having made friends for life, and I am looking forward to continuing my personal growth this year. Most importantly, it has meant I can leave my final year feeling that I have left a long-lasting impression on the University for the better.