Student Volunteering Week is an annual event celebrating the voluntary work done by students across the UK. Currently in its 18th year, Student Volunteering Week 2019 ran from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 February.

To mark the week, we chatted with the co-presidents of Teddy Bear Hospital – a scheme with over 600 student volunteers at St George’s - Manasvi Dwaraknath and Aamie Patel.

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Fourth-year medic, Manasvi, explained, “Teddy Bear Hospital is a program that initially started in Australia which subsequently grew in popularity and spread to other countries including the United Kingdom. It aims to alleviate childhood anxieties surrounding medical environments.

“In the UK it is student-led and student-run, with many participating universities providing free ‘clinics’ to children at nurseries and primary schools close to them. We have over 600 healthcare students volunteering as part of St George’s Teddy Bear Hospital who run free clinics for local schools.

“Each clinic comprises of a number of stations that focuses on various aspects of healthcare such as x-rays, vital signs and first aid. All stations have been designed to provide hands-on teaching pitched at an age-appropriate level that give children a greater understanding of healthcare and reduce any associated fears. At the end of our clinics each child becomes a mini Teddy Doctor and is awarded a certificate by our very own Mr Teddy!

“I personally got involved with Teddy Bear Hospital during my first year at university; I joined at the Freshers' Fayre initially as a volunteer to go to clinics. I then joined the committee at the end of my first year as Events and Publicity officer and have been on committee ever since, including as Vice President last year and now as co-President with Aamie. It has been a huge part of my university life and has taught me a lot about myself both academically, personally and professionally.”

Graduate entry medic and fellow co-president, Aamie Patel, explains how she got involved with the society.

“I always knew that I wanted to be involved in extracurricular activities at university. I like to dip into various areas of interest, including physical activity, arts and volunteering. While it hasn't always been practical to do these all of the time, the timing and flexibility of Teddy Bear Hospital allowed me to take on volunteering at my own pace. Looking at it as a much-needed break from studying has also helped me fit it into my life

“I joined as a volunteer in my second year and continued doing that until the end of third year. I then successfully applied to be co-president alongside Manasvi in my final year. It's been a bit of a challenge trying to understand everything that goes on behind the scenes but, nonetheless, it has been a great year with the committee and has definitely allowed me to develop.”

If you would like to get involved with Teddy Bear Hospital please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..