Kayleigh Van Dongen, BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation

I manage GCU’s Soup Kitchen, a team of volunteers who help support homeless people in Glasgow.

We prepare hot drinks and distribute them in Cadogan Street in partnership with Feed Glasgow and Emmaus. The Soup Kitchen gives so many people somewhere to go to talk who don’t have access to ordinary services. They have no benefits and nowhere to go, so, we are there for a lot more than hot drinks. We point them in the direction of other services and organisations who can help, contact shelters on their behalf, or simply offer a friendly ear for a chat. We have seen people who have had difficult times and heading down a slippery slope manage to move on through support. We even had one regular who ended up studying social care.

Volunteering is great. I first got involved as I thought it would look good on my CV and would enable me to join GCU’s Student Leaders Programme, but I have got to know so many people and it’s a nice community to be part of. I spend a lot of time volunteering. I am the Students’ Association’s Ethical and Environmental Officer and work on policies such as working towards the Green Impact Excellence Award, where we focused on food waste. As a former chef, I ran workshops using leftovers as ingredients. I’m also on Senate as International Officer and am part of GCU’s Learning and Teaching and Disciplinary committees. I like to be busy and it’s always interesting.

I am from the Netherlands and am also involved with New Europeans, supporting Europeans living in Glasgow, and am standing as a Green candidate in the council elections.

It’s important for students to get involved. I was a mature student when I came to GCU and found the Students’ Association was a great way to meet people with similar interests. I first got involved with the Freshers Team, which was exciting and I made a bunch of friends. The Association offers so many opportunities to have fun and make friends but you can also join groups focusing on areas such as liberation or women’s rights, so you can be part of something that matters.