Link Community Development

Improving the quality of education in Africa

Student Volunteering Week – celebrating our brilliant volunteers

Fundraising Officer Louisa talks about our student volunteering story – from a student society to Link today.

Link owes a great deal to its student volunteers. Not only do hundreds of students take part in our annual Hitch event, raising £100,000s for our work in the process but Link itself grew from a student organisation in Cambridge many years ago. Without the enthusiasm and dedication of thousands of students over the last 25 years, Link would not be what it is today.

This week is Student Volunteering Week, ‘a nationwide celebration of the power and positive impact brought about by the incredible voluntary efforts of students’.  Link is known throughout the student community and beyond as “the Hitch charity”, after our signature student fundraising event the Morocco and Croatia Hitch. Since 1992, nearly 9,000 people (mostly students) have taken on the challenge. One of my favourite things about my job is telling people where I work, to be met with ‘oh yeah, my friend/sister/flatmate/boyfriend/cousin/other did the Hitch!’

The success of the Hitch each year is owed to our incredible Hitch Reps. Each year a new group of around 50 students take on the challenge of convincing other students to join this rather unique event. Through some very creative promotional techniques, endless enthusiasm and inspirational Hitch stories, they have convinced thousands to take on the challenge and fundraise for Link. Hitch raises a huge proportion of Link’s annual income and we simply couldn’t do what we do without the work of our Reps and Hitchers.

Link Community Development began life in 1989 as Link Africa. Link Africa was a Cambridge University based charity with its roots in the anti-apartheid movement. Founded by university students, it began by arranging short term teaching placements for Cambridge students in Kenya and South Africa and some further activity in Lesotho and Uganda.  Short-term placements of a few months at a time became longer-term placements when the students graduated, enabling a shift towards project work. After many years working with various NGOs and Mandela’s post-apartheid government, Link was registered as an independent non-profit organisation (Link Community Development) in South Africa in November 1995. Twenty-five years later, that small student group is now a multi-national development charity, operating in nine countries and actively improving the education standards of thousands of schools across sub-Saharan Africa.

Link as an organisation is a brilliant example of what student volunteering can achieve. From those early days at Cambridge, to this year’s adventurous group of Hitchers, Link’s student volunteers have made incredible things happen and will always be a huge part of Link’s story. To any student who ever volunteered, ‘Rep’-ed or Hitched – THANK YOU. We couldn’t have done it without you.

If you would like some more information about volunteering for Link, then please contact me at


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