By running educational services with us, our volunteers fundraise for charities of their choice. Since OxFizz was founded in 2007, our volunteers have raised nearly £1m in charity donations.

We’re proud of the social impact our volunteers have — so from now until April we’ll be publishing blogs on their charities. We hope you find inspiration in what follows.

UniTED

The fifth of these posts comes from volunteer Leo Henghes, who last year helped raise over £850 for UniTED through OxFizz

Leo, how did you get involved with OxFizz?

I was referred to OxFizz through Zoe [a trustee of UniTED], and volunteered by writing newsletters in politics and economics to be sent out to students.

And how did you get involved in UniTED?

I co-founded UniTED when I was a student at Oxford.
The idea was to give more rewarding volunteering experiences to students who wanted to volunteer overseas. Rather than just doing temporary manual service, they could work with their peers in those countries to design start up social enterprises.
This not only makes for more impactful and educational volunteering, utilising far better students’ skills, but it makes for more sustainable volunteering, as UK students can continue to build their venture when they return home, and — indeed — more enjoyable and equitable volunteering, with better cultural experiences and the chance to build long-term friendships.

What is the impact of UniTED’s work?

We are currently supporting 40 social ventures across Uganda, all run by young Ugandans. These ventures work in very diverse areas, but are joined by their social mission of helping the general community or population (as opposed to making a profit).
One venture has successfully lobbied for climate change to be included in the Ugandan national school curriculum. Another venture sets up gardens in schools, and offers the students’ families advise on farming — they recently won a Pan-African award for agriculture.

And who benefits from UniTED’s services?

Our main beneficiaries are the students we support and guide — both in the UK and Uganda. We have designed tool kits to help them start up ventures, helping with things like writing financial projections, which they are unlikely to have encountered before. We make that advise accessible, but also contextualise it to Uganda.
Beyond intellectual support, we also — however cliché it sounds — provide students with a lot of emotional support. We help them through the emotional setbacks that come with starting a new organisation, and reassure them that it’s ok to take a different path to their peers.

What motivates you personally to be involved?

For me, UniTED is about global citizenship — the idea we have duties to people around the world, who we may not even know, but who still have needs.
I think this is best nurtured through developing cross-cultural friendships, and I believe that volunteering is one of the best ways to create those bonds.
Hence, I want to make sure that there are volunteer opportunities out there where students really can meet peers and build friendships. Volunteering is too often a missed opportunity.

What are the barriers to growing your impact?

At the moment, our focus is on expanding. At the start we were an organisation who supported mainly Oxford students, but now we’re looking more and more to recruit volunteers from elsewhere in the UK and overseas.

To achieve this it’s important we convince people of the value of our work — but this is hard to do when our short-term impact is difficult to measure. A lot of what we achieve is educational, and that is obviously very long-term. In the meantime, we’re thinking of ways to show people what we do is valuable and cost effective.

And why should OxFizz volunteers consider donating to UniTED?

The other limitation to expanding is, obviously, money — at the moment we don’t generate very much money per year. Last year we raised around £5000 — £6000 throughout the year, and OxFizz was a considerable chunk of that (nearly 20%)
I think OxFizz volunteers will get the most bang for their buck with UniTED. Our budget is very small and any little bit of money which is contributed to us now will have an exponential impact in the future as we develop our model.
In Uganda, each year 50,000 students graduate from university. But in the economy only 10,000 jobs are created. So there is huge unemployment, and people have to create their own jobs. Any money we raise can help these students lead change in their communities.

Finally, how else can OxFizz volunteers support you?

One excellent other way you could get involved with us to come along to our Ugandan exchange programme this summer! You can read more about it here.

If you want to find out more about UniTED, you can visit their website here or contact Leo on leo@unitedpartnerships.org

If you are interested in fundraising through OxFizz, please contact Lee on lee.robertson@oxfizz.org