How to engage Chinese residents and students in local community volunteering while they are working and studying?


The 2011 Census shows that Southwark’s Chinese population is relatively high – over 8000 people or nearly 3% of the population by ethnicity. In order to create a fairer future for all, we, a team of Southwark Council staff and volunteers, aim to improve the Council’s outreach to the Chinese community, including long-term residents and students. One of the objectives of this project is to improve the Council’s engagement with residents, but also to encourage the Chinese community to become a vibrant and visible part of the diverse society that makes up Southwark. So, what if we could engage Chinese residents and students to organise their own cultural event or volunteer in their local community while working and studying? On this blog, we would like show you what has happened until now, and how we began to engage with Chinese residents and students living and working in Southwark.

The benefit for Chinese residents and students could gain from being volunteers include:

      -make more and more local friends, widen your social circle;

      -adapt to the new environment quickly, improve the quality of life in your area

      -build CV, gain important employment skills and references

      -improve your English language skills

      -gain work experience.

      -internship opportunity,etc.

The aim of this project is to explore possibilities how to further improve the community engagement of Chinese residents and students, for example through micro-volunteering in the London Borough of Southwark, and to raise awareness of how such activities can help their own personal development and the community.

What has happened so far: Co-discorvery workshop:

In order to identify the barriers preventing, for example Chinese students, from being volunteers a Co-discovery workshop was held in Southwark Council in August 2014. We also explored what Chinese students might expect to gain from volunteering. The information gained from this workshop is used to shape our further approach to the project, as some but not all of these barriers might also influence Chinese residents.

The seven key insights emerging from the Co-discovery workshop in this stage include:

-The language barrier   

  is a common problem for Chinese students.

-Channel of Information:

  (what ? when? How? Where?).

-Lack of Communication.

There is lack of communication between Chinese students and the local government. When they are in trouble, they do not know what action to take.

-Distinct needs.

Normally, Master programmes in the UK are 12 months long. As a result, the needs for the students to priorities and to focus are very distinct.

-Career motivation. All of them are eager to gain skills connected to their career; it is very possible to use this to motivate them to volunteer.

-Cultural background.

  (cultural identity)


due to a tight timetable, students might only be able to volunteer for half a day or just a couple of hours.

The opportunities of intervention:


–Career Motivation


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If you would like to attend and know more details about the next workshop (Co-develop), which will take place on 28th October 2014, please follow this link and register your interests.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the event and to develop our community together!