Student Volunteers’ Week: Make New Friends

Student volunteers week: make new friends

Embark on a fulfilling journey of friendship and connection through the power of volunteering. 

Each activity offers a unique opportunity not only to make a positive impact in your community but also to forge meaningful bonds with like-minded individuals. 

Whether you’re teaming up for a neighbourhood clean-up or collaborating on a charity event, cherish the camaraderie and shared experiences that come with working towards a common goal. 

Embrace the joy of building new friendships and fostering a sense of belonging as you navigate this rewarding journey together. 

Ready to make a difference? Find out more and sign up to volunteer at Volunteering Kingston.

Embrace the Spirit of Giving in 2024: A New Year’s Resolution for Volunteering 

volunteering

We hope you had a wonderful festive season. Whether you celebrated with family or took a break to unwind, as the stress and excitement of December fade away, it’s time to embrace the opportunities that the New Year brings. 

The beginning of the year often sparks a renewed interest in giving back to the community, and this message shamelessly aims to encourage everyone to consider volunteering. It’s a time when people reflect on resolutions like being more active, quitting smoking, or losing weight. The January individual, full of aspirations and positive energy, is a familiar archetype that many of us can relate to. 

volunteering

Volunteering locally provides a unique avenue to channel this New Year positivity. By registering with Volunteering Kingston, you open the door to countless possibilities. If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors, we offer opportunities in ecology, environmentalism, and climate-related activities. Don’t wait for spring—dive into the deep end and let the winter season bring you a refreshing sense of joy. 

For those driven by the desire to help others, your contributions are more than welcome. While the festive season often highlights the needs of the homeless and destitute, the reality is that the demand for support, advice, information, and care persists throughout the year. January, in particular, can be a lonely month for some, and any effort to alleviate that loneliness is greatly appreciated. 

The essential roles performed by numerous voluntary and community organisations locally rely heavily on the dedication of volunteers. New enthusiasm acts like a ripple on a pond, reaching both long-time volunteers and those who benefit from their services. Your unique personality and motivation, no matter the trigger, contribute to the diverse range of volunteers that make a difference. 

So, why not sign up today and let’s collectively make 2024 the best year it can be? Your involvement can be the catalyst for positive change, making a meaningful impact in the lives of others and fostering a stronger, more connected community. Together, let’s embrace the spirit of giving and make this year one filled with compassion and connection. 

Register as a volunteer or browse available positions today!

Organisation Spotlight: Save the World Club (Trustees Week Edition)

trustees week. save the world club. kingston

To celebrate Trustees Week (6-10 November) we are highlighting the valuable role that Trustee Volunteers play in the volunteering sector. 

Organisation: Save The World Club

Name: Hugh Williams

Tell us a little about your organisation:

Save The World Club’s mission is to encourage positive environmental action and self-empowerment. We achieve this through our three main pillars: Food re-distribution, circulation of second-hand goods, and the mosaic murals all over the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames that we’ve made in conjunction with local artists and the community. 

The charity was originally founded in 1986 by Des Kay, who is still a Director/Trustee/Volunteer to this day. We are based in a warehouse we like to call “The Circulatory”, a building whose purpose is to promote a more circular economy to prevent wasting resources and improve the environmental impact of the things we use at the end of their lives. 

trustees week. save the world club. kingston

Why are Trustee Volunteers valuable to your organisation?

Trustee Volunteers are important to our organisation as they play an important role in both, deciding what direction would be most suitable to achieve the charity’s goals, and also as direct leadership on the ground for those who want to help but need to know where to start.

What does the Trustee Volunteer role involve? 

The role of Trustee Volunteer with Save The World Club is a varied one.

At its least involved, it could be as little as helping decide high-level planning and direction for the charity and taking part in board meetings once every two weeks for around 2 hours. On the more involved side, it could be to support the direction and needs of one of our teams from finance, HR, administration, food provision & collection, or even outreach. The more involved could be as much as 6-8 hours a day 5-6 days a week.

Training for a Trustee Volunteer is as diverse as the role you chose to take charge of. Taking into account where you’d like to be, and what training that entails, is just as much a part of being a Trustee/Director/Volunteer with us as the training we think you need to do your role well. 

What skills or experience are needed to become a Trustee Volunteer?

Patience, an open mind, the ability to step back where needed, and the confidence to step up when something is wrong. While all of these are desirable, a mindset open to learning/developing active and caring leadership to build a better space for everyone is a must.

Do you have any Trustee Volunteer role vacancies currently?

Yes!

We are open to interest in almost any area for our Director/Trustee volunteer opportunities, with a particular interest in becoming a treasurer. While we do have a fundraiser and grants Director/Trustee Volunteer, the applications leave them little time to compile accounts for our financial reflection.

Contact Tariq Shabbeer (Director/Trustee – Secretary General) [Tariq@savetheworldclub.org] or Hugh Williams (CEO) [Hugh@savetheworldclub.org].

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for your organisation?

Our roles are very flexible and so long as you have a good mindset, the roles can be both incredibly rewarding and equip you with valuable skills. You get to support vulnerable and local people while also saving both your wallet and the planet together with a fantastic team.

trustees week 2023

Unveiling Hidden Heroes: Changing Perceptions and Celebrating Trustees

trustees week 2023

Welcome to our blog, shining a spotlight on the unsung heroes of change – trustees. 

These incredible individuals are the heart and soul of nonprofits, guiding the ship toward meaningful impact. Trustees play a vital role, not just in boardrooms but in the very fabric of society, fostering transparency, innovation, and accountability.

trustees week 2023

As we celebrate Trustees Week (6-10 November), let’s explore the immense value these volunteers bring to our communities. Traditionally, there’s been a reluctance to put a price on freely offered commitment, especially at the trustee level. But times are changing, and the tide is turning.

Ever wonder why the incredible economic contribution of volunteering is often overlooked? Well, so have we. Enter a recent game-changing study by Works4U, led by the insightful Dominic Pinkney, titled “Monetary Value of Charity Trustees.” Brace yourselves—it’s a real eye-opener!

Starting with Sherry Anderson’s wisdom that “volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless but because they are priceless,” the report unveils the true economic magnitude of volunteering in England and Wales—£324 billion, a staggering 14.7% of the UK’s GDP. Let that sink in. To put it in perspective, that surpasses the NHS budget for 21/22 (£190 billion). And the good news doesn’t stop there.

Drilling down into the world of trustees, the report reveals their value at £33.17 billion, equivalent to 1.7% of GDP. Think about it—more than the total value of manufacturing in 2022 (£31 billion)! With the average number of trustees per organisation being 6, these figures are awe-inspiring.

But what does this all mean? It means change is on the horizon. The report not only advocates for recognising the economic value of volunteering but suggests a dedicated government department for the entire Voluntary Sector. A world where Trustee roles are championed on the same scale as business, sports, and culture. While we might not see it overnight, a shift in attitude toward the sector is certainly on the cards.

Excited to join this movement? The good news is that new trustees are always in demand. If you want to join this impactful journey, become a volunteer or a volunteer involving organisation (VIO). Volunteering Kingston is ready to help you maximise the value of your contribution.

Paralympian becomes Chair of Trustees at Kingston Association for Blind

In this illuminating case study, we delve into the remarkable journey of Roy Frank Smith MBE, a dedicated individual committed to supporting visually impaired communities. 

As the Chair of Trustees for the Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB), Roy’s story is one of inspiration and selflessness. With a rich history in sports, including participation in the Paralympics and an MBE for his contributions to Disabled Sport, Roy’s transition from competitive sports to community service is a testament to his unwavering passion for making a difference. 

As we celebrate Trustees’ Week (6-10 November 2023), join us as we explore Roy’s role, responsibilities, and impactful achievements, including empowering visually impaired individuals to get involved in sport.

trustees week kingston association for blind

Volunteer: Roy Frank Smith MBE 

Role: Chair of Trustees

Organisation: Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB) 

Tell us a little about yourself:

I live in New Malden, now retired, but I have been volunteering for various sight loss charities for the last 50 years. I took part in the Paralympics and have been involved in both the summer and winter Olympics. I have run Marathons and Half Marathons to raise money for the sight loss sector. I received the MBE from the Queen in 1991 for services to Disabled Sport, and I had the privilege of being a torchbearer in the 2012 London Olympics.

What inspired you to become a Trustee?

I had so much fun taking part in sport as an individual and in teams, I wanted hundreds more people in London and Nationwide to be able to have the same amount of fun. The rewards from watching visually impaired people of all ages enjoying a wide range of activities are immense. I have been involved as the chair of British Blind Sport and Chair of Metro Blind Sport and Social Club for the visually impaired for over 30 years. Over thousands of individuals have befitted from the clubs I have been involved in. My passion, in the long run, is to see the fun blind children have running, jumping and throwing and all blind and partially sighted people of all ages enjoying a wide range of activities.

How did you find out about the volunteering role?

When I stopped competing nationally and internationally, I looked at how I could support local visually impaired charities. I contacted the Royal Borough of Kingston who put me in touch with KAB. In June 2023 I became the Chair of Trustees therefore passing on some of my administration and fundraising skills including networking and coaching contacts.

Tell us about your Trustee role.

My role is to coordinate with the CEO and other trustee members, meet with new members and volunteers and provide essential awareness training, especially for members with recent sight loss. To ensure that we have enough funds to support the activities we provide and try and increase our income so we can increase our services and activities to over 4,000 people living with sight loss in this borough. All information is sent out in the format of the members’ choice e.g. large print, audio, talking newspapers and accessible website.

Please, tell us about your most memorable experience as a Trustee volunteer.

Organising one-to-one swimming lessons for blind and partially sighted people who cannot swim. Finding the funds from Sport England and Royal Borough of Kingston to book training pools and one-to-one coaching has been enormously rewarding. It has fulfilled so many members’ dreams of swimming for the first time. We have also inspired members who have lost their sight later in life to regain their confidence to go back into the pool with one-to-one coaching with separate lanes in the pool, thus avoiding the fear of collisions and people jumping into roped-off areas.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a Trustee?

Sit in at a few meetings first, go along to some activities, meet the members, check out our newsletters and see what a difference you can make to the visually impaired community.

Can you sum up your experience in three words?

Life changing experience

If you have been inspired by Roy’s experience, consider becoming a trustee with Kingston Association for the Blind or check out other opportunities in Kingston and become a volunteer today.

Spotlight: Kingston Buddy Scheme

What does your organisation do? 

The Kingston Buddy Scheme is a befriending project which matches volunteers with a buddy who has learning disabilities or autism. The scheme has been running for over 20 years and has been a positive experience for many dozens of service users and volunteers alike. Great, lasting friendships have been formed.

Why do you want to involve volunteers in your organisation? 

Volunteers who can spare a few hours a month to meet their buddy are the lifeblood of our scheme – we cannot function without our volunteers and we are hugely appreciative of everything they do and bring to our scheme.

What volunteer role/s do you have available? 

We need volunteer befrienders who can spare a few hours a month to take their buddy out to leisure activities which they might otherwise not be able to attend. We provide full training for our volunteers and we reimburse their expenses.

Find out more and apply here!

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for your organisation? 

Do it! Our scheme is so rewarding for our volunteers. You will make a huge difference to your buddy’s life and you will gain great life experiences along the way.

Spotlight: Volunteering with Dyscover

Dyscover charity - supplied image

Thinking about volunteering in Kingston? Find out more about local organisations and their volunteering opportunities with our Spotlight series!

What does your organisation do in Kingston? 

For almost 30 years, Dyscover has been providing long term support and opportunity to people with aphasia and their families. Aphasia is a neurological condition, acquired through stroke, brain injury or a rare form of dementia and is very isolating and frustrating. Aphasia affects a person’s communication, including their ability to find words, construct sentences and understand language, both written and spoken. 

We work to inform, support, and empower people with aphasia to manage their communication disability and to re-engage with life. We create an aphasia friendly environment in which people feel included, valued, and have a sense of purpose. 

Daily sessions are led by professional speech and language therapists, supported by a team of volunteers, and designed to help people adjust to living with aphasia. We help our members to develop strategies for communicating, maximise abilities and provide help and support for partners, carers, and other family members. 

Dyscover charity - supplied image

Why do you want to involve volunteers in your organisation? 

Volunteers are an integral part of Dyscover, making up 80% of our team and we could not provide our crucial services without their support.

What volunteer role/s do you have available? 

We are looking for new volunteers to join the team at our Kingston group. Volunteers support our members (who have aphasia) in a structured and therapeutic conversation group with Speech and Language Therapists. The group is designed to help our members adjust to life with aphasia, develop different communication strategies and regain confidence. 

Who are you looking for? 

We look for friendly, positive individuals keen to learn about aphasia and want to make a real difference to our members. No previous experience of working with people with disabilities is needed as full training and ongoing support are provided. 

When & where?

Kingston Quaker Centre on Tuesdays at 9.30am-12.30 (term time only)

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for your organisation? 

If you are considering volunteering with Dyscover, you can chat with our Volunteer Coordinator and arrange to go along and see the group in action which is the best way to learn more about what we do and how our volunteers support our members. We are a very friendly and welcoming team. Our volunteers tell us that it is a hugely rewarding role and that they really get so much from volunteering with us.

Changing trends in volunteering are affecting us all

corporate volunteer day

The content of this article is taken (and edited) from The Conversation. It provides a lot of food for thought! 

The original article can be found here.

“The number of people taking part in volunteering in the UK is decreasing. This is bad news, but it is not surprising. 

The social restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 do explain some of this decline. Of course, we went out less, and some regular volunteering was cancelled. The pandemic did also create new opportunities for mutual aid and informal helping out, and for people to become involved in helping deliver local services to their friends and neighbours. But there has been a longer-term fall in volunteer numbers that pre-dates COVID-19. 

There are good reasons why people do not volunteer. They may have work commitments, childcare or other caring responsibilities. They may not know how to get involved, or not feel welcome. And the obstacles that prevent people from volunteering are likely to have become more significant over the last few years, in particular, due to the cost of living crisis. 

The government has monitored volunteer participation in England since 2001. Between 2001 and 2013 the number of people taking part in volunteering each year in England remained fairly consistent – maybe even increasing slightly. Around 40% of people said they volunteered at least once a year and around 28% volunteered at least once a month. 

However, after a peak in 2013-14, volunteer numbers have fallen. The latest government survey found that only 16% of people in England took part in formal volunteering once a month in 2021-22. 

Similarly, a report by the Charities Aid Foundation shows that the number volunteering has been in steady decline for the past five years – down 1.6 million people since 2018. Another survey, carried out in 2022 by the National Council for Volunteer Organisations, shows declines in various voluntary activities. 

Taking part in volunteering is also generally affected by age. Young people aged 16 to 25 may volunteer through school, college, or university or through social clubs because they have the time and are motivated to get skills and experience to benefit them later on. 

There is a drop-off in participation during the transition from youth to adulthood when people move into work and acquire more caring responsibilities and so have less free time for volunteering. There is then generally a gradual increase in volunteering with age as people regain spare time – and a second drop-off as people move into old age and are more likely to be burdened by poor health or cut off from social connections. 

The evidence on barriers to volunteering also shows a relationship between volunteering and social advantage. Wealthier, more educated, more socially connected people have more opportunities to volunteer than those living in more challenging social circumstances. 

This perhaps better explains the gradual decline in volunteering over the past decade or so. As people’s lives have become more challenging as a result of falling living standards and rising costs it is not surprising that they do not have the time, money, or motivation to volunteer. 

If the cost of living crisis in the UK continues, it would not be a surprise to see volunteering numbers decline further. People will have to continue to focus their attention and effort elsewhere. 

This is a problem – because volunteering is beneficial to those doing the volunteering as well as the cause they are supporting. Volunteers can gain skills, experience new cultures and communities and increase their employability – and research suggests volunteering improves mental health and reduces mortality risk. 

If particular groups of people – such as people with disabilities and people from ethnically diverse and socially disadvantaged communities – are less able to volunteer, then they miss out on any benefits. 

The whole notion of volunteering could widen rather than reduce social inequalities: the gap between the most well-off and the poorest. Growing inequalities already have negative effects on the health and wellbeing of many people and their communities. 

Over the past decades, there have been multiple attempts to support UK volunteer numbers. These include David Cameron’s coalition government’s Big Society and The Big Help Out as part of the coronation celebrations. 

However, the focus of these strategies and programmes is inevitably on individuals – trying to tap into their personal motivations – rather than addressing the deeper social issues that affect participation. 

Getting more people volunteering again means making sure people have the time, energy, and inclination to get out and help out in their communities. This will be stymied if they are having to worry about paying bills, getting a secure job, finding good quality childcare or waiting for a doctor’s appointment. It is unclear whether participation rates will recover until broader social inequalities and issues are addressed.” 

So, lots to consider here. We, who live in a perceived wealthy area, are not immune to this decline and must be as involved in the solutions as those areas where the relationship between economic contraction and declining volunteering is clearer. Answers? Why don’t you tell us? 

Michael Green, Project Manager at Volunteering Kingston

Celebrating Volunteering and Discovering the Power of Giving

National Volunteers Week (June 1st-June 7th, every year) was a tremendous success, and here at Volunteering Kingston, we are constantly reminded of the invaluable contributions of volunteers. We believe in spreading this celebratory spirit to all organizations engaging with their communities.  

That’s why we’re thrilled to extend a warm invitation to the upcoming Discover Volunteering in Kingston event, set to take place on Thursday, July 20th, at the vibrant All Saints Church in Kingston, from 6pm to 8pm. 

The Discover Volunteering in Kingston event, inspired by the previous year’s Big Thank You gathering, is designed for everyone eager to explore local volunteering opportunities and express gratitude to those already making a difference. This event is a collaborative effort with partners like The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Kingston Hospital, Kingston University, Kingston Voluntary Action, The Kingston Pound Project, and many others, all contributing to its planning. With such fantastic support, we hope to welcome a remarkable number of residents to join in on the festivities. 

What can you expect at the event? It will be an exciting multi-layered affair, including: 

  • A Volunteer Fair, showcasing selected volunteering-involving projects 
  • Networking over tea 
  • Heartwarming entertainment, with singing performances 
  • An inspiring sewing corner exhibition run by refugees 
  • A unique volunteering exchange tree 
  • A keynote speech by the esteemed Leader of Kingston Council, Cllr Kirsch 
  • Plus, we’re still working on other fantastic surprises! 

The best part? This event is entirely free to attend! We can’t wait to see you there! 

Let us know you’re coming by clicking the Eventbrite link here: bit.ly/DiscoverVolunteeringinKingston. 

Join us in July 2023 for a day of joy, connection, and the celebration of volunteering in the beautiful community of Kingston! 

Discover Volunteering in Kingston Event – Everyone Welcome!

Volunteering event in Kingston

Are you interested in volunteering, but just don’t know where to start? Join us and discover the amazing opportunities available in Kingston!

Whether you’re looking to give back to your community, gain new skills, or meet new people, Kingston has something to suit you.

There are so many ways you can make a difference, so join us for the chance to meet with local charities and organisations and learn about the different ways you can get involved from the people who know best.

All are welcome, so come along and discover how you can get involved and make a positive impact in Kingston!

To register your interest in attending, please reserve a spot via our Eventbrite page.

Date: 20th July 2023

Location: All Saints Church Market Place Kingston upon Thames KT1 1JP

Cost: Free

Time: 18:00 – 20:00