Residents, charities and community groups across the Royal Borough of Kingston will continue to benefit from a bespoke volunteer matchmaking service as Kingston Council recommissions Groundwork London to deliver the Volunteering Kingston project.
The project will continue to run from April 1st 2023 to 31st March 2026 with options to go to 31st March 2027 and 2028, bringing even more local volunteers and organisations together.
Groundwork is a federation of charities mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment across the UK. It shares the council’s focus on creating vibrant, green neighbourhoods and strong communities.
Between 2018 and 2023, the Volunteering Kingston project built strong and lasting partnerships with local groups across the borough. It was instrumental in supporting the invaluable work undertaken by volunteers during the pandemic. Leveraging these strengths, Volunteering Kingston will be introducing more innovative and tailored services to enable people in every corner of the borough to participate in volunteering and serve the communities they call home. Some of these new developments include:
- New training opportunities for new and prospective volunteers
- ‘Pop-up’ and outreach activity in new areas
- One-to-one training and best practice advice slots for organisations working with volunteers
- A multi-partner approach to annual events and volunteer appreciation
- Involvement in the borough’s Community Hubs project
- A four-year volunteering strategy, co-produced with stakeholders
Sarah Whitby, Community Operations Manager at Groundwork London said:
“Volunteering Kingston is committed to creating a positive impact by continuing to play a vital role in bringing the community together and creating meaningful connections through volunteering. We’re delighted our stewardship of Volunteering Kingston since 2018 has been recognised by the new commission, and we look forward to further expanding opportunities and enhancing the experience volunteering gives all those who get involved.”
Leader of Kingston Council Andreas Kirsch said:
“Empowering people and strengthening our communities is a key focus for the council, and volunteering can play a vital role in this. The power of volunteers and volunteering has been clearly demonstrated in the local response to both the Covid pandemic and the current Cost of Living crisis. We are committed to supporting Kingston to be a thriving borough where opportunities to get involved in volunteering and make a real difference to your local community are accessible to all.”
If you live, work or study in the Royal Borough of Kingston, you can find a volunteer role by browsing our current opportunities.
Groundwork London is pleased to announce that the Volunteering Kingston project has been recommissioned from April 1st 2023 to continue providing a Volunteer Centre service within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
Building on the strengths of the experience garnered between 2018 and 2023, including the work undertaken in the pandemic, Volunteering Kingston will be cascading out new services tailored to ensure all parts of Kingston Borough can volunteer and serve the communities they live in.
Sarah Whitby, Community Operations Manager at Groundwork London said “we are pleased our stewardship of Volunteering Kingston since 2018 has been recognised by the new commission, we look forward to further expanding the opportunities and enhancing the experience volunteering gives.
Browse our current volunteering opportunities!
There is a great opportunity emerging from the RBK Library Service. They are inviting individuals and groups to use their library spaces to share skill sets and passion that others would find useful or enjoy. If you have an idea that you would like to share with others but are unsure how to go about it or where to hold it, then read on further to find out more.
The RBK Library Service can offer you the space for free and support you with the setting up and promotion of your idea. Whether it is learning new skills, sharing passion, a one-off or a long term venture, they are keen to hear from Kingston residents who are fourteen and over.
As social distancing is the present priority, initially they can offer a virtual room to develop your idea with the intention of bringing it into the physical space once it is safe to do so.
Some examples of groups that have been set up are craft groups, a book club and Ki Gong. You could also set up a group to support a cause that is important to you, such as the environment or tackling loneliness. Whatever your idea, please contact Giselle at email@example.com to speak further about this.
Mental Health Week 2020 is upon us and with everything going on in the world, it is important we take some time to reflect on our mental wellbeing.
The theme for this Mental Health Awareness week is Kindness. Acts of kindness like simply checking in on an isolated friend or neighbour is time well spent.
It is also important to remember to be kind to yourself. The NHS recommends 5 top tips to look after your own mental wellbeing:
Connect with others
Keep a regular routine and set goals
Manage your social media and news intake
Do things you enjoy & try something new
Look after your body by staying hydrated, eating well and getting daily exercise
Volunteering is another excellent way to boost our mental wellbeing as it:
Provides routine and structure.
Increases self-esteem and confidence
Imparts a sense of fulfilment
There are so many ways we can help ourselves by helping others, this is a great opportunity to volunteer to support the most vulnerable members of our community. Whether that is with a local organisation through the Kingston COVID volunteering scheme or simply picking up the phone and calling a friend or relative to see how they are feeling. Find out more about how you can get involved in volunteering in your borough.
University culture is historically entwined in philanthropy, charity and activism. Students play a focal role in the promotion of social improvement and empowerment; this new generation of leaders have the power to shape the world through social change. Students may not have the monetary means to contribute to charity, but it would be a mistake to believe that financial contribution is the only way to help a cause. How about volunteering? The unique characteristic of volunteering is that it is mutually beneficial:
1. Stand out in a competitive world. Volunteering helps develop practical skills which go a long way in ones’ career. Soft skills and organisational skills are essential in every field, whether that’s communicating the importance of environmental protection or acting as CEO in a third sector organisation.
2. Become part of a community. There is such meaningful difference bought about by the local frontline and this can inspire students to continue to support the community after their academic years.
3. Supplement your learning. Volunteering is a practical way for students to start thinking critically about environmental, economic or social issues.
4. Increased health and happiness. Youth loneliness is on the rise; young people feel less connected to their friends, community and the world around them. Volunteering provides the opportunity to connect with people while making a positive impact.
If you have questions about volunteering, contact us or come and meet us at one of our volunteer advice sessions.
If you are an organisation and believe that a student volunteer would be valuable to you, we can help you with the recruitment and management of volunteers.
To the wonderful people of Kingston,
One of the best parts of my role as Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator has been visiting the organisations we support to see the great things they are doing. My highlights of this year include; lunch with the guests of The Vintage Banquet, poppy making for remembrance Sunday at Kingston Eco-op, coppicing trees at Berrylands Nature Reserve and getting to take home delicious courgettes grown at Hogsmill Community Garden after a morning of volunteering. There are so many other wonderful organisations doing great things in Kingston.
We began 2019 by launching a new volunteer advice session at New Malden and by October we had added another venue at Tolworth Library, meaning we are now present in each of the four neighbourhoods. In June we celebrated Volunteers’ Week with the first ever Kingston Volunteers’ Fair which included an award ceremony presented by Leader of the Council, Liz Green. It was a pleasure to meet so many of you last year and help you discover volunteering as a pathway to your potential; allowing you to share your unique contribution with your community and develop life changing skills.
I’m excited to announce that this year brings some changes to the team! A new Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator began work in the New Year, as I take a new role as Training, Development and Events Coordinator. I’m certain that the new broker, Molly, is going to fit in really nicely to the Kingston volunteering community and I know that she cannot wait to meet all of you.
Thanking you all and wishing you happy volunteering in 2020!
So, what is micro volunteering? This flexible model of volunteering constitutes of small acts of kindness which can take many different forms. Micro volunteering is a way to give back to your neighbours, local or global community, or environment. There is no ongoing commitment or training necessary and these roles can be virtual, remote or in person.
To celebrate Micro Volunteering Day 2019, we made and dispersed seed balls! These balls of clay and compost are coated in seeds and thrown or planted in green areas. Sometimes known as ‘seed green-aides’, this environmental activism emerged from the Guerrilla Gardening movement in New York, ‘Seed Bombing’ or ‘Aerial Reforestation’ aims to populate urban areas with flora, providing food for bees and other insects.
Some other micro volunteering ideas are:
- Offering to do the food shopping or pick up some essential items for a neighbour
- Two-minute litter pick
- Clearing up a local community green space
- Donating unwanted items to a charity shop
- Buying a homeless person a hot drink or sandwich
- Signing an online petition
- Research surveys and questionnaires like Zooniverse
Volunteering is valuable and every minute counts; it’s important that we value every selfless contribution whether that take place over seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months or years.
February ended in a blinding beam of sunlight and from this, March has emerged.
Not only does this month mark the start of spring, promising growth and new life. It brings International Women’s Day (IWD). Both a celebration of women and an opportunity to look hopefully towards a more equal future. The 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, which calls for a more gender balanced world; “Better the balance, better the world”.
We have been thinking about non-working mothers and the potential of volunteering as a path to social enrichment and skill development.
26% of mothers do not work and nearly 1 in 5 parents reported they have deliberately stalled their careers. Taking a step back from paid employment need not mean that any parent sacrifices their personal or professional development. We believe strongly that volunteering can be a flexible means of enrichment, but it is vital that organisations actively create an accommodating work environment for this demographic.
A flexible working environment is the key to making volunteering opportunities accessible for all. Some ways that organisations may do this is through:
- Term time working allows volunteers to take time off during the school holidays means they don’t need to find childcare over these periods and can enjoy time with their family
- Role sharing means more perspectives, collaboration and more creative ways of working. This also allows multiple people to benefit from the voluntary placement
- Working from home establishes trust and allows volunteers to emit travel time from their role. This may also save the organisation money if expenses are offered
- Write full role descriptions to make sure volunteers know that you have an open and flexible working environment and that every contribution is valid regardless of the form it takes
1 in 4 will experience a mental health issue this year. However, despite how common these experiences are, myths and misinformation make it difficult for people to ask for help and the subject often brings feelings of shame or embarrassment. Taking care of mental health in the work place and at home starts with one simple thing; speaking. It’s time to start talking about mental health.
Talking about mental health can seem like a minefield, you might be questioning whether you have the ability to support someone going through a tough time. Whether they are a friend or colleague, you can master the art of talking by learning to listen. Ask questions and try to really understand how they are feeling, this makes people feel acknowledged and cared about.
Once you’ve taken the first step and asked the person if they are okay, and they have said “Yes I’m fine”. Question ‘Are they really fine?’. If you’re not sure, ask twice to help them open up. They might not be ready to talk yet, but communicating that you are there for them and ready to listen means they are more likely to ask for help when they are ready to talk.
People experiencing mental health problems want to be treated without judgement. You don’t need to become someone’s therapist to help them. A message with a silly joke or a funny video can be a spark of light in a dark time. Try keeping up contact with someone, inviting them out to do normal things can help them see a way out of the bad place they are in. Make sure they know that you care.
Talking Mental Health at Work
“Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.”
– Louise Hart
The working environment is a tricky environment for discussing personal topics, such as mental health. How can we foster an atmosphere which allows for discussion about mental health? The key is to make employees or volunteers feel valued and comfortable within the workplace.
- An open door policy means that all employees and volunteers are encouraged to speak freely with any manager at any time. Encouraging a working environment where communication is free and open has advantages to organisations from a business perspective but this can also have a much more personal benefit to all.
- You don’t need to have a solution and sometimes trying to find one can lead you to saying the wrong thing. Try using acknowledgement and appreciation to tackle the conversation; “That must be really difficult for you” or “Thank you for telling me about it”.
- Be flexible to ensure you are creating a comfortable working environment for those with different needs.
- Make sure you understand mental health, take this useful quiz by Time To Change: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-quiz
- Set up a casual activity to encourage your staff and volunteers to talk about how they are feeling. Lots of healthy conversations have been known to start with tea and biscuits.
- Most organisations have a registered provider for counselling-related service – check with your HR department or line manager.