Top Tips I’ve Learned for Organising Student Events
Rachel Allison, a student at the University of Birmingham, shares her top tips for organising student events, after the recent Methodist Student Gathering in January.
This January the second Methodist Student Gathering was held at Cliff College, a Methodist College just outside Chesterfield. This gathering of Methodist students takes place once a year and is an opportunity for students from all over the UK to come together and share fellowship and worship away from University life. The 2017 Gathering had the theme “being agents of change” and saw 30 students from all over the UK taking part in various activities, including walks, cake shops and crafts.
In the afternoon we had workshops on topics including: interfaith, evangelism, dementia friendly church and the refugee crisis, which were designed to engage and inspire the students who attended the weekend to go back and make a change in their university. Then in the evening we went to the pub to share stories of faith and being a Christian and specifically a Methodist at University. In the morning we were joined by Jane Leach, an eminent theologian who is regularly on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’. Jane delivered a wonderful keynote speech entitled, ‘The God of Jubilee and the Vocation to Creation and Relatedness’. She then led us in a moving Holy Communion, which centred on the idea of flourishing.
This is the second Methodist Student Gathering that I have organised and this year I was blessed to have help from my friend Nicola. We started planning in September 2016 for the January 2017 Gathering, trying to work out what our theme would be and who we would like to speak. We were very lucky to have the financial support of the Methodist Church who booked the venue and helped us with the booking system which saved us some of the more complicated issues. So our main tasks were deciding on a theme, inviting speakers, organising bookings, and sorting out activities. We chose our theme, ‘Agents of Change’, and set about thinking of speakers who would work well and who could lead workshops. We chose people pretty quickly and sent out invitations and wrote briefs for all of those leading workshops. For the last job before the gathering, we prepared programs, welcome letters, bought small gifts and sorted out workshops. Once we arrived at the venue, everything slotted into place.
Planning events such as this does take time and effort, but it is usually not too difficult if you put your mind to it! I have a few tips if you decide to organise a student event:
- Come up with a good theme to bring everything together.
- When deciding on speakers try to choose people you know or have heard and know will be good and able to deliver good talks and workshops.
- Work in a pair or group when organising. Most students are busy and sharing the load is often helpful and it is really useful to have someone to discuss ideas with and check you’re on the right track.
- While we all want our events to be free, sometimes it is helpful to charge a small fee (£5-10) which often makes people less likely to drop out last minute.
- Don’t get stressed if people don’t book in early! Students are notoriously hard to pin down and often they book in quite late, so be ready to keep booking open until quite close to the event.
- Don’t fill your program to the max, make sure there is time and space for sharing stories and just relaxing.
- Enjoy your event! Don’t sweat the little things, chances are you’re the only one who’s noticed.
Rachel Allison is a student at the University of Birmingham, studying Politics, Religion and Philosophy. She is currently the Interfaith and Ecumenical Rep for the Methodist Society. Find out more about Birmingham Methodist Society here.