University of Leicester lauds ‘Volunteer of the Year’

Posted by pt91 at Jun 28, 2012 12:34 PM |
‘Amazing’ PhD student wins the Frank May Cup
University of Leicester lauds ‘Volunteer of the Year’

Sadiyo Siad with Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess and Dr Frank May.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 June 2012

Jpeg image of Sadiyo Siad with Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess and Dr Frank May available from

A tireless volunteer whose unstinting efforts have had an impact locally as well as internationally has won the title of Volunteer of the Year at the University of Leicester.

Sadiyo Siad, a PhD student at University of Leicester was awarded the Frank May Cup and the Volunteer of the Year award at an event organised by the Career Service and Contact Student Volunteers, Students’ Union, to recognise and award students who volunteer in the local community.

Through her efforts, she negotiated an agreement with the government in Somalia to set up the first public library in 22 years in the capital Mogadishu. The library will support students of the universities in Somalia and the general public. Sadiyo have already secured donations of thousands of text books from several publishers around the country and a large donation of books from the Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College in Leicester which will be shipped out to Mogadishu.

Birgit Lewis, Student Volunteering Coordinator who nominated Sadiyo for the award said: “Sadiyo Siad is an individual who have the remarkable ability to engage others. She is the instigator, the ideas person and the inspiration for many others to get engaged. Behind her ideas is a passion for equality and a desire to help women from all backgrounds and ethnicities to have equal opportunities and the rights to achieve.”

Sadiyo said: “It’s really an honour to receive this prestigious award. In my life I have never dreamed to have this much recognition for something which I am so passionate about. I volunteer because I believe that there is something greater than I, and I do believe that I can make a difference and minimise inequity in our modern day. “

Two years ago, at the same time as embarking on a PhD in Immunology and Infectious Deceases, Sadiyo started up a charity called Eva Organization for Women (EOW). Her ethos behind this charity was to empower, motivate and support women and young girls from all walks of life to have a positive impact on the world in which they live. Sadiyo already had a lot of experience of volunteering with vulnerable groups in Leicester, Denmark and in Somalia.  During her undergraduate and Master’s degree here at the University of Leicester, she volunteered with refugees and local community groups helping with legal forms, translation and public health advice.

Last year, Sadiyo organised a student led conference raising awareness of Female Genital Mutilation*, a collaborative project with EOW and the university. The conference was a resounding success bringing together community leaders and religious scholars, health personnel and victims of this illegal but still practiced tradition. The conference is still having an impact as EOW is producing information packs to be distributed to health personnel.

This year Sadiyo organised another student led conference at University of Leicester and also a festival to celebrate International Woman’s Day in March. The conference included talks from lecturers at the university on women’s rights and health and Wendi Momen from Women’s Commission at United Nations who talked about their achievements and future plans.

Within Leicester city, Sadiyo has organised a number of workshops helping women locally who are struggling to find employment developing their skills and creating a CV so that they are able to apply to jobs.

Her work also stretches internationally, she has developed work projects in deprived areas of Somalia to help local women establish and run trade businesses to provide for themselves and their families. Last year she also visited refugee camps in Somalia and women in prison (unlawfully imprisoned) and is collecting Law books to send to the women so that they can self-educate and defend themselves.

As one of her nominators, Qudsia Malik said: “Sadiyo is tirelessly working to help others. Despite being a full time PhD student and a mother of 5 children, she is very committed and dedicated to her volunteering and has made a great difference to the community in Leicester. This is great recognition for the volunteer work she has been doing for many years now.”

Birgit Lewis who also nominated Sadiyo adds: “Never in my experience of working with Contact Student Volunteers, has one individual student volunteered so many hours of their time to help others in the local and the wider community and also engaged so many other students to volunteer for great causes. She truly deserves the Frank May Cup and the Volunteer of the year Award.

*If you or someone you know have been, or you worry that you might be, affected by Female Genital Mutilation and would like to speak to someone, please contact EOW via email:


For more information, please contact Birgit Lewis via email: or call 0116 252 2317

About the Cup:

A valuable Silver Cup was donated to the University 5 years ago year by Dr Frank May and is kept safe in the Fielding Johnson Building.  He also donated a replica of the cup to Contact to award to an outstanding volunteer each year.   The replica cup is engraved with the winner’s name and is on display in the Students’ Union.

Dr Frank May is a retired Leicester businessman who has devoted 60 years to public service. Dr May’s association with the University of Leicester dates back to the 1980’s when he was appointed to the University Council.  Dr May supports the Centre for Holocaust Studies and is a patron of arts and music both at the University and throughout the City of Leicester.

Dr May was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester in 1992, an MBE in 1994 and the Freedom of the City of Leicester in 2001.

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