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How I used my King's Service Time: Professor Mieke van Hemelrijck

King’s is committed to building a better world, which is why service is prioritised just as highly as education and research in the University’s mission. Each King’s staff member is entitled to three paid days off per year to spend volunteering with a local organisation or institution.

We're speaking to colleagues from the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine about what they’ve done with their service time and what the opportunity has afforded them.

Professor Mieke van Hemelrijck leads the Translational Oncology and Urology Research (TOUR) Team in the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences and uses her service time to volunteer as a governor for a school in South East London.

Mieke, why did you choose to volunteer for this particular organisation?

I am a governor of the primary school my son attends in South East London. I wanted to give something back to the school because they put a lot of effort into educating and nurturing our children.

Has volunteering taught you any valuable lessons? If so, what are they?

Our primary school recently merged with another larger school, so now I sit on the board of something akin to a school ‘group’. This merger and the overall role I play has taught me a lot, not only about the education system and governance, but also about communication. With the merger we had to make sure all the parents were on board with the changes being made, and the process taught me valuable lessons about communicating change and providing regular feedback – tools that are useful in my work context as well.

Mieke van Hemelrijck

What do you gain from the experience?

The management experience I get through volunteering is valuable for me as an academic, because obviously we need to manage a lot of people in our teams too. So you get exposed to management in a different context, which I think is useful.

The recent merger of the two schools means that I am now exposed to how the senior school prepares its students for university. For me, as someone who sits on the other side - evaluating those applications and interviewing those students for medical school - it’s been really interesting.

How have your colleagues responded to hearing about how you’ve used your service time?

I actively encourage my staff to volunteer and make use of the days afforded us. Since hearing about how I’ve used my service time other members of my team have asked about whether they can use theirs to volunteer at their children’s schools. I’ve also encouraged the headmaster at the School where I volunteer to offer something similar to his staff, so that they can give back to their communities and be inspired in the same way that I have.

Sometimes initiatives like this can become a bit of a tick-box exercise, but I think it’s important to promote this type of activity as a way to engage our staff and set an example. As a team we do a lot of outreach activities as part of our work and volunteering provides an opportunity for learning and stimulates ideas.

Thank you Mieke!

Find out more

Visit the Service Time intranet page to learn more about utilising your service time. The time you can take to volunteer is pro-rated if you work at King’s part-time. If you have used your Service Time this year please record all volunteering hours with King's Volunteering online.

In this story

Mieke  Van Hemelrijck

Mieke Van Hemelrijck

Professor in Cancer Epidemiology

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