Opinion | ‘Insta-activism’ isn’t the only solution, organisations still need real activism as well


By Lowri Lewis, Opinion Columnist

Many activist organisations will have seen a drop in the number of people willing to volunteer for them this year. But you wouldn’t think that from your friends’ Instagram stories, would you?

There’s been a noticeable rise in the number of students posting about important issues on their social media over the course of this pandemic. Some even translated that digital activism into real life action by attending in person protests between the lockdowns. But just because we’re all stuck inside again now, doesn’t mean that these organisations no longer need any help. In fact, they need it more than ever.

It’s been so encouraging to see that there are huge numbers of students who care about a whole variety of these causes. And it’s clear that many are willing to put these thoughts into practice - the Summer’s socially distanced protests showed that.

'Volunteering is definitely something worth investing it in' | Epigram / Lucy O'Neill

Long-term, though, there are few who have since made the commitment to actually take time out of their week to volunteer for these organisations. As students, time is one of the few things we’re actually able to donate to these causes. So why is it that we’re so unwilling to give it?

One of the most obvious reasons is the levels of stress we’re under at the moment. Doing a degree always demands a lot of our energy, but doing one during a pandemic feels significantly more draining. It can seem like any additional commitments would just be too much, especially if you’ve got a part time job as well.

If there is a cause that you’re particularly passionate about, however, helping out can actually be good for your wellbeing. Irrespective of how small it is, making a contribution towards solving one of the big problems the world is facing can bring some much needed happiness into our Covid-stricken lives.

It can be surprising how positive of an impact it can have on your life to spend some time volunteering

Many organisations will be happy with however much time you’re able to give them - whether that’s a few hours per week, fortnight, or even per month. It’s difficult to ignore the fact that huge changes could be made if the students who posted infographics on their Instagram stories would give a little of their time to just one of the causes they promoted.

Of course, as an individual, it can seem like doing a small amount for an activist organisation wouldn’t make enough of a difference for it to be worth it. But don’t let that put you off. These organisations wouldn’t ask for your help if it wasn’t desperately needed.

And lightening the load of work that needs to be done is no small thing - it can prevent the burnout of other activists, who might feel overwhelmed by the large number of tasks that need doing.

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COVID-19 has obviously affected one of the most enjoyable parts of volunteering for an important cause; meeting like-minded people. Introducing yourself to and making connections with new people is much harder to do on Zoom, as we all know from our experiences of blended learning this year.

One of the few benefits of this, is that you can explore your options when it comes to activist groups - you can easily just hop on a Zoom to see how you like it. And if it’s not for you, leaving a meeting early is much less difficult than it is in person. If you end up finding an activist organisation that is for you, it can be surprising how positive of an impact it can have on your life to spend some time volunteering for them.

As students, time is often as much as we are able to give. But it’s invaluable all the same. If you feel able to, volunteering is definitely something worth investing it in.

Featured Image: Epigram / Lucy O'Neill

Are you involved in volunteering or any form of social action? Let us know!