The University of St Andrews Charities Campaign – the official charitable subcommittee of the Students’ Association – is currently asking students to send in their nominations for the local, national and international charities which they will support for the 2018/19 academic year. Before the deadline ends and voting opens, The Saint spoke to the current and new Charities Campaign Convenors and heard about the massive impact of the campaign on their chosen charities, and their aims and hopes for the year ahead.

Fourth-year History student Jamie Minns has served as the Charities Campaign Convenor (SSC Charities Officer) for the 2017/18 academic year, and has now been elected as the Director of Student Development and Activities (DoSDA) for the coming year. As he prepares to embark on this new role, which will see him maintain close contact with the Charities Campaign as a subcommittee, Mr Minns reflects on the achievements of the last year.

“Our 2017/2018 charities have been Save the Children (our international charity), Scottish Refugee Council (our national charity), and Families First St Andrews (our local, Fife-based charity)” Mr Minns told The Saint.  “I’d say that our main goal is to raise as much money as we possibly can for the charities St Andrews students elect. However, alongside that, I hope that we have raised publicity about the three charities. Families First rely heavily on St Andrews student volunteers and I hope that we have raised their profile. Similarly, a staff member from the Scottish Refugee Council visited St Andrews to speak earlier this semester and share with the committee what their work involved”.

The Campaign have an outstanding fundraising history, with Mr Minns highlighting just a couple of examples: “In 2016/2017, the Charities Campaign raised over £74,000 for our three nominated charities. Our events include Race2, RAG Week, CATWALK Charity Fashion Show, and much more. The Students’ Association’s societies and events raised over £150,000 last year for various causes, with the Charities Campaign contributing to nearly half of that total”.

Now, the Campaign are calling on St Andrews students to send in their nominations and get their voice heard regarding which charities should be next to benefit from their appeal. As every matriculated student is automatically a member of the Campaign, it is important that their goals and actions are reflective of those of the entire university.

“I really really hope that you nominate a charity, and then vote!” urged Mr Minns, “At some point next year, I am sure you will donate to the Charities Campaign, even unexpectedly, whether that is by handing your coat over at a charity cloakroom, at one of St Andrews’ fashion shows and balls, taking part in Race2 or buying a Purple Pablo in RAG Week. So please take a second of your time to nominate your chosen charity; your email could make a huge difference to a charity close to your heart!”

The Saint additionally spoke to Niamh Mcgurk, a third-year student of History and International Relations who has been elected as the new Charities Campaign Convenor for the 2018/19 academic year, following extensive involvement in previous years.

“What I’ve most enjoyed [about participating in the Charities Campaign over the last year] is seeing the events such as Race2 and CATWALK, that people have put a lot of time, effort and hard work into, be a great success and raise lots for our charities. It’s always good to see hard work pay off, especially for a good cause.”

This sense of achievement garnered from participation in the Campaign was echoed by Mr Minns when he said: “The thought of going to Barcelona for Race2, or “Paradigm” as a theme for CATWALK, just started off as ideas. Seeing them happen, and be events that students want to get involved with which also raise five-figure sums for the causes closest to students’ hearts, is really special”.

Ms Mcgurk passionately shared her plans to continue the strong relationships the Charities Campaign traditionally build with their chosen charities, and suggested that she would like to see this expand even further, perhaps to include a greater number of joint events and collaborative projects, for example.

When asked about the nominating process currently open to all students, Ms Mcgurk said: “For us, it’s so important to get students involved in the charity nomination process, as we are the charity campaign for the whole university and so we want to represent the wishes of the student body. For students, most people have a cause or charity of some sort that is close to their heart. With one simple email, that charity could be in with the chance of benefitting from our fundraising efforts all year”.

Both Mr Minns and Ms Mcgurk additionally suggested that interested students should seriously consider attending their upcoming AGM, which is to be held on Monday 9 April at 7pm in Beacon Bar.

“Without a doubt, joining the Charities Campaign committee has been the best thing that I have done as a St Andrews student”, said Mr Minns, “I couldn’t recommend getting involved highly enough!”

“Our AGM is a chance to get involved with all aspects of the campaign!” added Ms Mcgurk, “Anyone can run or vote and we will have plenty of wine and soft drinks.”

What is particularly striking about the Charities Campaign is their desire to truly build connections between the university and charities, and engage students’ interest and incentive to participate by valuing their opinions and creating events which can simultaneously raise funds and awareness while providing numerous enjoyable experiences too. You can make a difference while engaging with some of the most popular events in town.

Students can nominate their preferred charity by sending suggestions to charities@st-andrews.ac.uk. Nominations are open from now until Friday 6 April and voting will open on Monday 9 April.

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