Volunteering Stories

The Whitehaven Wave - Bob Walley and the Student Volunteers Make a Splash in West Lakes

Bob Walley and medical student volunteers have been undertaking a community consultation in Whitehaven.

The area of Whitehaven lies in the region of Copeland in Cumbria. The area is home to around 70,000 residents (Mid-2013 population estimate. Source: Office for National Statistics.) According to 2011 Census information, the Copeland area population is 70,603 people.
97.3% of which identify themselves as White British.
1.2% White other,
0.5% Mixed/Multiple Ethnic Group,
0.9% Asian / Asian British
0.1% Black / African / Caribbean / Black British
0.1% Other Ethnic Group
(Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics)

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) West Lakes Campus currently accepts 30 International Medical Students from across the globe. This number could be set to increase, meaning there would be more UCLan international students moving to Whitehaven for their studies.  Part of the Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership’s role is to provide the medical students with volunteering opportunities and placements which aim to integrate them within the local community. This gives the student hands on experience through extra curricular activity and valuable transferable skills, through placements and opportunities. Some of the students at Whitehaven already volunteer with community organisations in the town, and as part of their course gain experience through placements at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven. Therefore, the integration of international students within a monoculture was identified as a positive development, helping to support knowledge exchange and build the cultural capital of the town. CVCL’s role was to consult with the community on how the medical students would integrate and support the town.

For this initial community consultation a number of free community engagement event days were set up. Two of these were at the Marina space in Whitehaven, the other was at Whitehaven market on market day. These ran from 12pm to 5pm each day during the first week of the school holidays in July 2018.

UCLan students and St Begh’s Primary School pupils with their community art project



Members of local community organisations were informed or involved, providing activities and information to passers by about student volunteering opportunities, and the training or campaigns that they are involved with. The CVCL activities aimed to begin conversation with local residents about equality and diversity in Whitehaven. To help start this conversation with local residents, an interactive workshop was delivered . This involved the creation of the ‘Whitehaven Wave’, a collaborative art piece that celebrated Whitehaven’s rich cultural history and contact with people from many different cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds from across the world. CVCL also used this opportunity to ask local residents how they would like UCLan to engage with local people.