RAG pushes students to reach higher and challenge themselves. Their mission is to aid both charities and build skills that students can use for life
At the heart of Bournemouth University Volunteering is RAG. Raising and Giving is a fundraising body that has raised funds for countless local and international charities.
Lead by a committee of eight, no challenge is too difficult for RAG. From climbing Africa’s highest peak Kilimanjaro to searching for Silverback Gorillas, RAG is all about giving students once in a lifetime opportunities.
RAG was set up in 2011 by the then RAG president Lauren Ellis in order to help charities locally and internationally while also helping further students CV’s. While the fundraising is important, giving student’s new skills and experiences is equally important.
This year’s RAG president, final year politics and media student Doug Tham, feels that fundraising isn’t the only element that will help students develop: “Fundraising is one element and the money going to charity is really good but for me it’s the focus on building the students a career after university that makes it so good. It’s about team bonding, the experience and building self-confidence. The fundraising part especially helps confidence because students will have to speak to strangers and ask for money.”
Last year £183,500 was raised for charity but are even more ambitious this year, aiming to raise £300,000; £200,000 of which they want to donate to their chosen charities.
RAG’s impact can be seen in a new centre they helped fund built between Bournemouth and Southampton by the Children’s Society to support children who have suffered from domestic abuse.
Unlike last year RAG are simply focusing on two charities this year, Diverse Abilities and the Dorset Rape Crisis Centre, in order to devote more money rather than split it four ways like last year. Diverse Abilities are a Poole-based charity that helps families who have loved ones with physical and learning difficulties.
The Dorset Rape Crisis Centre is run entirely by women volunteers to help women and girls who have been raped or sexually abused.
The students are involved every step of the way when choosing the charities. They are shortlisted by the committee and the students vote via Facebook for the charities they want to fundraise for. Doug added: “We chose local charities because we want to show that our money is actually changing people’s lives.”
One of the most life-changing challenges is volunteering in Nepal, South East Asia.
Nepal is a beautiful county with beautiful landscapes, diverse cultures and of course the mysterious Himalayan Mountains.
However Nepal’s dark side is political conflict that results in violence, crime and poverty.
Students had the chance to renovate a school and immerse themselves in the culture and struggles of daily life in Nepal by meeting children and adults in the community.
The Gorilla trek is one of RAG’s newest challenges. Students will have the opportunity to canoe through Uganda’s stunning scenery while searching for Silver Back Gorillas and then finish the trip building a playground for Ugandan school children.
Emily King, a first year English student, is passionate about helping and experiencing new cultures.
“I have done volunteering with children in Africa last year and loved it so wanted to do something else similar. I’m most looking forward to seeing the children playing on our finished playground at the end of the trip and knowing we’ve helped make a positive difference to their childhood!”
The challenge involves fundraising for charity East African Playgrounds that focuses on childhood development in underprivileged communities.
One of the toughest challenges RAG offers is the opportunity to climb Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro.
Located in Tanzania, students complete the amazing feat by climbing 5,895m. At the top students can watch the sun set over the vast African landscape.
Miguel Luigi, a first year Multimedia Journalism student, is hoping to raise £2995. He is raising money for the Hope For Children foundation, an international charity that helps disadvantaged children around the world.
“It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new as well as be able to visit a continent I’ve always wanted to go to.”
Choose a Challenge have taken 4,000 people up Kilimanjaro but for climbers it can be a daunting prospect because of the mountain’s height. Miguel agrees: “It’s exciting since it’ll be a completely new experience for me albeit a bit of a challenging one.”
Despite it’s difficulty Miguel feels the challenge will be worth it for the experience and the charity.
“What’s so great about fundraising is that it’s beneficial for everyone who takes part in it. RAG support many different charities through a variety of different events so there is almost always something for everyone.”
Featured image: Alex Sisa