Five minutes with St John Ambulance Student Volunteer of the Year

Medicine student Ranvir Cheema at St George's, University of London and volunteer first aider has been awarded as our first Student Volunteer of the Year.

This is the first year we have run the Student Volunteer of the Year award. We want to recognise the amazing contribution students make to our charity's lifesaving work. And as it's Student Volunteering Week, it's the perfect opportunity to celebrate the positive impact students have on their communities through volunteering. We talk to Ranvir about how he first became involved with St John Ambulance and what it means to him.

Ranvir CheemaHow did you hear about student volunteering at your university and what made you want to join?

I stumbled upon the LINKS stall at my university's Freshers' fair and the thought of being trusted to drive an ambulance on blue lights and getting into some of the top events around London for free seemed too good to be true!

What is a day in the life of a student volunteer?

It varies - I am at university during the day and many weekends and evenings are devoted to St John Ambulance activities.

What does volunteering for St John Ambulance mean to you?

Being part of a team that goes out and saves lives, facilitating students at south London universities to volunteer for St John Ambulance and encouraging their development.

What has been the highlight of your time as a student volunteer?

Recently, staring on Channel 4's 24 Hours in A&E was an unexpected privilege! Visiting our LINKS units is undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of my job. I love seeing the passion our volunteers possess and witnessing their fantastic achievement is truly humbling. It's also been great to see the growth that we have achieved in LINKS unit in south London. When I started, the units were fairly small and now, we've doubled the number of units altogether, providing almost 9000 hours of volunteering in 2016.

How has volunteering helped you with your career?

Volunteering with St John Ambulance has allowed me to meet so many fantastic people! Recently, I met a consultant whilst volunteering at The National Service of Remembrance, who kindly offered to supervise me for a university project. Having the opportunity to undertake this at the top hospital where he works was a fantastic opportunity!

How do you manage the time commitment?

Many of our LINKS volunteers dedicate a weekday night o undertaking training at their university based units and then get involved at weekends and during holidays too.

What skills has being a volunteer taught you?

In my clinical role as an event first aider, having the privilege of treating patients has vastly improved my communication and clinical skills, allowing me to develop the skills that are taught at university. My management role has allowed me to work as part of a fantastic team, engaging with senior managers, setting strategy and representing St John Ambulance at various external organisations and ultimately enabling LINKS volunteers in south London to continue volunteering!

Would you encourage others to become St John Ambulance volunteers?

Without a doubt! Volunteering with St John Ambulance has provided me with so many amazing opportunities. If you're at university speak to your student union and find out if a LINKS society exists and how you can get involved. And if you don't have a unit at your university, get in touch and we can help you set one up!



Want to see more?

Some of our student volunteers have been busy vlogging. Take a look at our playlist on our St John Ambulance YouTube channel.