The importance of celebration in a troubled time

Volunteers Week 2022

This year, National Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) coincides with an extended celebration of the 70th year on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II. Manifesting itself with a four-day bank holiday weekend, the country will no doubt dig deep into its reserves of unity to ensure a celebratory mood. Not only this, but these events have fallen in the month of June, which is dedicated to celebrating Communities.

National Volunteers’ Week (NVW) is all about gratitude and so it should be. If ever there was “a time to say thanks”, the theme of this year’s NVW, to volunteers and the groups that come together in our communities, it is now. The contribution of volunteers has ensured our society remained functioning over the past two years of peaks and troughs.

The thought of celebrating may not be appealing right now, while the demand for foodbanks reaches a new peak, being positive whilst millions of displaced Ukrainians look for safety and money is tighter than usual. Personally, whilst I understand this thinking, I believe greater hurdles calls for a greater need for trumpet blowing. June 2022 and the co-incidence of NVW, Communities Month and the Jubilee is one such occasion.

Groundwork London’s volunteering services in the London Boroughs of Kingston, Barnet and Waltham Forest will be celebrating National Volunteers’ Week to show our appreciation to volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort to support their communities. We are working with others to ensure “a time to say thanks” continues later into the month. Events will be held in each Borough to not only mark our appreciation but to be central in strengthening bonds that bind individual volunteers, volunteer-involving organisations and the statutory sector locally. Keep your eyes peeled it will be celebratory and if circumstances allow, fun.


You can find out more about how you can get involved in this year’s Volunteers ’Week on the official page here.

In the meantime, if you are looking to volunteer and start a new exciting journey today, you can discover all our available roles through Groundwork London’s volunteering services below:

Volunteering Kingston

Legends of the Forest, Waltham Forest

Volunteering Barnet

Reflections on partnership


As National Volunteers’ Week 2022 looms on the horizon, I have found myself pondering the nature of partnership and specifically how adversity drives organisations (and people) to answers they otherwise would not have found. Specifically, from a Volunteering Kingston perspective, it manifested itself with the partnership that became Kingston Stronger Together (KST). As we tip-toe back to a world where pandemic viruses are not all-embracing and other issues become dominant in the media it is worth taking a moment to appreciate some of the gains made. 

The KST came together in late February/early March 2020 at the beginning of an unprecedented medical crisis. It started because the then Leader of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (RBK) had a clear vision of genuine partnership for Covid-response and she found the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations willing collaborators. Civic leadership has changed since then and the individuals who were the core elements of that partnership also moved on but the mechanics of partnership remain.  

From Volunteering Kingston’s (Groundwork London) perspective the value in the KST came from the partnership approach and the utilising of resources that accrues from it. By engaging the VCS as equals rather than as sub-contractors (something at the time we hoped to be reflected in the conclusions to the RBK Voluntary Sector Commissioning process review) RBK had been able to garner almost unique levels of service delivery cooperation and ensure a communication cycle unpreceded within the borough. For just under two years, the partnership was central to safeguarding the local community. 

There was a sea of goodwill from within the community of Kingston borough which saw an initial rush of 1200 volunteers for Covid-response.

This, combined with the contribution of informal and spontaneous localised groups, was pivotal to supporting professionals in coordinating the various delivery tiers. Despite an over-supply of willing volunteers (which mirrored the experience of the NHS volunteers) the volunteer experience in the borough rose to new levels and looked like it would continue to do so for some time to come.  

About a year in, whilst others were looking ahead, we understood it was absolutely vital that the core elements of the KST/Hub approach were maintained. 

The organisation’s key to success was retaining the leadership element whilst remaining open to all civic and stakeholder contributors.

The response to Covid-19 demonstrated how co-operative and collaborative approaches can be enacted quickly and become efficient and effective. Between March 2020 to March 2022, the KST proved to work and, in some form or other, it must continue. 

It is now May 2022 and, as needs decline, not all physical manifestations of that partnership are still in play, understandably. However, the KST has made the concept of positive partnership a reality, supported by a massive body of work and experience. The VCS* side is still here and responding to needs. It is still the place where individual volunteers connect to be part of the whole, still being partnership personified. On reflection, it was a massive achievement!   

By Michael Green, May 2022. 


* Including Volunteering Kingston, Kingston Voluntary Action, as well as organisations such as the Foodbank and Voices for Hope and informal contributions from the Good Gym groups etc. 

Delivering goodwill and essential supplies


We spoke to Liam at Alfriston Outreach Service about how they are involving volunteers in their work. Looking forward, Alfriston Outreach Service want to carry on involving volunteers, moving away from short term practical tasks to befriending and volunteer-led activities. With a set of pre-COVID volunteers, the current food delivery volunteers and the future recruits, the Alfriston team is planning ahead and looking forward to welcoming their service users back at the Centre.


Alfriston Outreach Service is a Day Centre that offers a range of services such as activity packs, shopping/delivery, prescription pick-up, hearing aid batteries, laundry, crisis support, and technology support to Kingston residents. In the past, a typical day would see many residents walking into the Centre to socialize and interact with other service users. However, since March 2020 they have remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they have been contracted by Kingston Council to provide support for older people such as delivering food and other essential supplies.

Volunteers have always played a key role at the Alfriston Outreach Service Centre taking up everyday tasks to support their services. Although the Centre has traditionally recruited volunteers through word of mouth, they’ve found Team Kinetic (Volunteering Kingston’s volunteer management platform) much more effective for recruiting and managing volunteers. According to the Alfriston Outreach Service, the platform’s user-friendly outlook with simplified interactive features has been a game changer.

It was during the initial days of the lockdown when Liam and his manager found it very challenging to manage the office-based tasks alongside travelling to various parts of the Borough to deliver food. So they decided to recruit for two roles that needed one or two volunteers and received an overwhelming response from twenty-five volunteers who were keen to get out to help those in need and offer their share of service towards the community.


Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do this. Once we got in touch with Volunteering Kingston, everything happened very quickly and it made things run a lot smoother.


The volunteers who came on board to support with the food delivery role have been delivering more than just the essential supplies, they have been delivering smiles, a hearty chat and acting as an observant eye to check on the well-being of the service users. For example, one volunteer reported that a service user seemed a little confused during their interaction, which led to the Alfriston team checking on the resident to make sure they received the support they needed. Alfriston Outreach Service fully appreciates how volunteers have come forward during these tough times to spread goodwill in the community. To further amplify this, there are plans to include the volunteers in an Easter Egg delivery in the coming weeks. We at Volunteering Kingston think that this is a fantastic idea and perhaps the volunteers could dress up as Easter bunnies? Just a thought!


Our Vaccine Heroes

For the last ten months, Covid-19 has changed our lives beyond recognition. It has been the most extraordinary and challenging period that most can remember. The Covid-19 vaccine is the way out of this difficult period – and yet again people who live, work and study in Kingston have stepped up to support their community.

Volunteering Kingston has been recruiting volunteers on behalf of New Malden & Worcester Park Primary Care Network. The volunteers have been welcoming people into the clinic, helping people find the right car parking spaces and making sure that the whole vaccination process runs smoothly.

We have over 70 volunteers give their time and helping protect Kingston.

Here is what some of them have to say:




And a thank you from one of the doctors:


We can’t promise Nandos every volunteering session – but if you need another reason to get involved!


Want to join them?

Search vaccine here.

Contact us if you have any questions or want any support.

Other ways to help?

Volunteering in person is not right for everyone at the moment. Here are some other ways to support the vaccination effort from home:

  • Remind friends and family to wait to be contacted by their GP. Also, remind them to make sure they are registered with a GP.
  • Share trusted information from reliable sources with friends and family.
  • Spread awareness of scams that are circulating around the Covid-19 vaccine. Find out more here.

There are other ways to support people affected by Covid-19.

  • Voices of Hope are a community choir who transformed themselves into a food and support group. Find out how to get involved here.
  • Sewing for Kingston is an amazing group who come together to make things to support the staff and patients at Kingston hospital – scrubs, face coverings, baby clothes and everything else you can imagine. Find out how to get involved here.
  • Find the right opportunities for you on Volunteering Kingston.


Making a difference with a meal

Anna started volunteering with Voices of Hope during lockdown earlier this year. She is a trained chef and after finding herself out of employment, she wanted to make a difference to people who had been disproportionately impacted by the lockdown. She cooked meals that were delivered to people who were usually supported by other services.

As lockdown measures have eased and Voices of Hope (VOH) have been able to reintroduce some of their activities, Anna has continued to volunteer with them. She has especially enjoyed getting involved with the Sisterhood Sanctuary, one of the many community projects run by VOH, for women who have experienced domestic violence, assault, abuse, and mental or physical health challenges. They get together and enjoy different activities such as making cake decorations, beauty treatments and talks from local businesses. Anna cooks lunch for the women at these sessions; she said she loves seeing the impact it has on them.

“Cooking someone a meal makes such a difference”

Do you have a skill that could be beneficial to a local charity? If you’d like help finding a volunteering role, please do get in touch.

Kingston’s community response to COVID-19

We have all been affected by COVID-19 in some way.   With all the stress, isolation and tragic losses of this time, one thing which has been heart-warming has been the way that the community has rallied round to support the more vulnerable members of society. Whether it’s people starting up local informal groups to hundreds of thousands signing to be an NHS Responder, Kingston volunteers have gone the extra mile.

During a time of crisis, people come together, and close to home in Kingston, we have seen how very quickly groups of individuals organised themselves to help others. This has renewed our appreciation for the people who give up their time to help others.

Are you keen to join the local pool of COVID-19 responders? We need your support now and as we transition volunteering needs for the long term. Here are some of the ways to get involved in your community:

A creative synergy

Specialist groups, such as Sewing for Kingston, have been making essential kits for key workers to help make wearing PPE more bearable. They are also making pairs of hearts for patients in hospitals who cannot have visitors but can feel connected, in spirit, with their family members.

Feeding people in need

Voices of Hope have supported thousands of hungry people during this period. They usually run projects to reduce social isolation through choirs for people dealing with trauma. With the support volunteers, they rapidly transformed into a food hub, preparing over 10,000 hot meals for those unable to do so. They have also provided a delivery service to as many of the 18,000 people aged over 70 in Kingston as possible.

Kingston Foodbank has been feeding people during this period and is always looking for new donations.

Helping our newest Kingston residents

Growababy Kingston has been delivering baby formula, nappies and baby food for those in need during this challenging time.

Kingston Stronger Together

In Kingston, Over 1,200 volunteers have signed up and they are supporting with food deliveries, driving and befriending people by phone.

This astonishing volunteering mobilisation, informal and formal, shows that volunteers are a key part of the response to the crisis.

As we move slowly from the current period into the recovery period, we can take comfort in the instinct that people give their time to help others. We will be telling volunteer stories throughout Volunteers’ Week. Join us in saying thanks to these heroes this Volunteers’ Week, tell us about a volunteer that has made a difference in your community, either an individual, a volunteer organisation or a local neighbourhood initiative. Tag us in your thank you messages so we can share it with others and use the hashtag #TimeToSayThanks.

This post is part of our Volunteers’ Week blog series.

How to get involved with volunteering from home

As much of our country has turned to working from homemany volunteering opportunities have gone digital too. Volunteering from home and micro-volunteering are not new concepts, however, they have become even more popular in recent months 

Microvolunteering is a bite-sized task or activityoften on a one-off basis and no strings attachedallowing volunteers to donate their time in short, efficient bursts. It could be anything from signing a petition, donating food to a food bank, creating something crafty for a cause in need, taking part in a #twominutelitterpick … the list of possibilities is endless.  

In a time when outside activities are limited, volunteering from home has never been as important and rewarding. Here’s why: 

  • It’s accessible – anyone can volunteer from the comfort of their own home. 
  • It’s achievable – you can give just a few hours, without the worry about travelling or over-commitment. A small act of generosity goes a long way. 
  • It’s flexible – your volunteering can easily fit in around other commitments, it’s a good option for people who work full time and/or have families or caring responsibilities. 

We want volunteering to be accessed by as many people as possible. There are plenty of easy ways to start volunteering from home, here are just a few ideas: 

  • Consider supporting or starting an online campaign for a cause you feel strongly about. Help create social media posts to help spread the word. 
  • If you speak more than one language, offer your skills to organisations that may need support with translation, teaching and training.  
  • Become a befriender! Offer to call someone who may be isolated once a week for a friendly chat. This can be done through organisations such as Age UK or simply with a neighbour or friend. 
  • Dust off your knitting needles or sewing machine and support various causes in need. The NHS is currently in need of scrubs. 
  •  Volunteer for an organisation you care about. You can offer to support them from home with admin, phone calls or social media. 

Have a look at these websites for more ways to volunteer from home 

  • The United Nations has a whole host of online volunteering opportunities, including translation, art and design, teaching and training roles.  
  • Support blind and low-vision people by providing visual assistance through Be My Eyes app.  
  • Join Loving Hands to donate blankets for new-borns, shawls for the elderly or coats for dogs.  
  • The Wildlife Trust is promoting 30 days of random acts of wildness. Download your free pack and do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month of June. 

Volunteering Kingston will be sharing micro-volunteering activities to take part in throughout the week on our social media pages. Follow @vol_kingston for daily ideas for you to get involved. Let us know what you’re doing at home this week Volunteers’ Week using the hashtag #IVolunteer. 

This post is part of our Volunteers’ Week blog series, words by Alice Gray. Alice is a Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator at Groundwork London.

How to include volunteers at home

Most regular volunteering activities will have stopped during this time as a result of social distancing precautions. Please check in with your volunteers regularly, especially if they are living alone. 

If you are able to include volunteers in some way, please ask them if they’d like to be involved. Having something to do and feeling useful is really important for good mental health, especially during this period of social distancing. 

Here are some ideas of things they can do to stay involved: 

  • Proof reading of documents or other admin tasks that don’t involve sensitive data. 
  • Undertake free online training for something that will be useful when current precautions end. 
  • Supporting with social media. 
  • Researching advice, resources and positive things to share with service users during the current crisis. 
  • Film themselves providing training for a skill – for example cooking, home-based exercise or basic DIY. This could be shared with service users if appropriate. 
  • Film themselves talking about the value of being a volunteer and ask others who can volunteer to give their time. 
  • Volunteer by video call. 


If your volunteers don’t use the internet or are not tech-savvy, they could: 

  • Write about being a volunteer and encouraging others to volunteer. 
  • Come up with ideas for future fundraisers, trips, activities etc for when the current precautions end. 
  • Write thank you cards (obeying hygiene precautions) for funders or people volunteering now. 
  • If they have been volunteering for a long time, they could write a history of the organisation and how things have changed. This could be posted on the website. 
  • Become a penfriend or phone buddy. 


Volunteering with other organisations: 

  • If you can’t involve them and they want to volunteer, advise them to contact Volunteering Kingston and we will try and find the right role for them. 


Let us know if you have any other ideas or would like any support. 

Staying safe when supporting others

If you are going to volunteer either as part of an organised volunteer response team, with a local or mutual aid group, or running errands for a friend or neighbour it’s important to take the following precautions for your own safety but also to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


  1. Let family and friends know what you are doing 
  2. Maintain a safe distance of at least 2 metres – about 3 steps – from the people you are helping 
  3. If you are dropping off shopping for someone please don’t go inside the premises
  4. Try to volunteer during daylight hours
  5. Follow social distancing guidelines and don’t volunteer in large groups
  6. If possible, volunteer in pairs but staying 2 meters apart
  7. Support friends and family by phone or video call
  8. Keep washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  9. If you are volunteering outside use hand sanitizer as frequently as possible
  10. If you join a local group supporting others be careful when sharing your personal data 


If you have any questions, concerns or you are worried about any individuals, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to support you and make referrals.

Other precautions you should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when volunteering are:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • Try to avoid close contact with other people
  • Avoiding public transport where possible


The most important thing to consider before volunteering is to make sure you are healthy enough to volunteer. You also don’t want to risk making someone else unwell. Please follow NHS advice and stay home if you have either:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

Stay safe, stay healthy!

Coronavirus Information and Advice

Coronavirus (Covid -19) is making the headlines world over. Here is some information about what we are doing in light of the pandemic.

We are taking steps at Volunteering Kingston to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and advice on how you can keep yourself and others safe.

As a preventive measure, we are suspending all our Volunteer Advice Sessions for the time being. We will keep you informed of the latest updates and developments in the coming weeks.

Our other services are still very much up and running, the best ways to reach is to email:

We will keep you updated with what volunteering opportunities there are available at this time through our website, social media and volunteer newsletters.

It can be overwhelming to assess all the information coming from various sources. For credible information, we strongly recommend you to follow instructions and guidelines issued by verified sources such as Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response and NHS

The uncertainty around this pandemic might cause stress, anxiousness and social isolation. If you feel coronavirus is affecting the mental health and wellbeing of yourself or someone you know, please read the following guidelines for some advice.

What can I do to help?

Register on our volunteering platform if you’re looking to get involved in supporting others. Shortly we will be introducing a search function where volunteers can register their interest in volunteering specifically to help with the COVID- 19 response.

Alternatively, think about supporting your local food bank by donating items. Or donate to a charity who are already helping those in need of extra support such as #helpinghands

Informal or Micro volunteering

Call or Skype a relative or friend who you know is on their own or maybe worried.

Do you have a neighbour or relative who might be having to stay at home? Could you drop off a roll of toilet roll or essential items? Use this printable ‘Kindness card’ and post it through a trusted neighbour or relative’s door. Please be sure to take sensible hygiene precautions as well as taking care of your own health and safety.

We understand that people will be taking informal volunteering action and you may want to get involved with  small local action groups that are popping up in local communities across the country. If you do want to get involved with a local action group we would again encourage you to do so taking sensible precautions and responsibility for your own health and safety. Please read our advice on how to stay safe while volunteering.

Before volunteering, please make sure you have considered your own health, any caring commitments you may have and who you need to make aware that you are volunteering.

If you know of something happening locally or want to set something up yourself please let us know.

How can you help as a business or workplace?

Consider printing off some of the ‘Kindness cards’ and give them out. If possible, allow some flexibility if staff are volunteering – e.g. allow staff a longer lunch break to check in on a neighbour. Or consider holding a food bank donation drive in your workplace.

We will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks with further service updates and developments. Stay connected, stay safe.