It was initially a few friends of mine who prompted my interest in getting involved in SIDshare, and a few months later I ended up as part of the student committee.
SIDshare was established in 2013 as a student-led social enterprise operating as an NGO embedded within the University. Our focus at SIDshare is two-fold. Firstly we endeavour to provide our national and overseas partner organisations with a platform to outsource work to the student body, whilst simultaneously providing Sheffield students will valuable opportunities to engage with the Third Sector.
My first involvement within the Third Sector was working for the income support group of a voluntarily-run NGO. Whilst it was undeniably a valuable experience, I found myself increasingly disenchanted with work in such a saturated sector.
It was only until I began volunteering for SIDshare that I gained an understanding of the importance of inter-organisation collaboration. SIDshare focuses on partnering with small-scale NGOs who potentially lack capacity in certain areas, and thus would benefit from accessing the breadth of skills within the Sheffield student body.
SIDshare’s student members therefore assist partner organisations on a voluntary basis with funding applications, marketing material, event coordination etc.
I once read an article which stated when working in International Development if you think the answer is simple then you are wrong. Partnering with organisations and placing students entails a number of complexities, and I am not suggesting that partnership is a magic bullet of any kind. Yet the simple act of mutual cooperation not only alleviates much of the stress faced by our partner organisations, but also provides students with career-boosting aptitudes.
SIDshare has recently become part of the South Yorkshire International Development Network. Drawing upon similar models, the network involves a variety of organisations within the sector sharing ideas and advice with regards to best practice. It is hoped that over the coming months the network will continue to grow with more organisations involved.
You can learn more about SIDshare on PIN here.
George Barrett is a Masters student in Public Health and International Development at The University of Sheffield, and a current committee member of SIDshare. I have previously carried out research in South Africa and The Gambia.
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