National Volunteers’ Week 2023: Celebration and Appreciation

As we are all aware, the Coronation recently passed. Crowds gathered, traditions were upheld (and some slightly modified), the great and the good attended, our media shone a light onto the sideshow of personalities and the weather, in typical British fashion, rained on the parade.  

Kings Charles III dedicated the weekend of his Coronation to the Volunteering Spirit within his realm and The Great Help Out was born. Whilst such events might not truly reflect the breadth of the 24/7/365 volunteering that takes place across the country, if it inspired people to keep contributing to their community – then that is no bad thing! 

National Volunteers’ Week (June 1st to June 7th) follows quickly… Here is a time to celebrate and inspire that comes around every year. It, like The Help Out, isn’t the be-all and end-all of showcasing volunteering – that is done again every day by volunteers on the ground. But it is an annual, welcome, chance to thank and appreciate those whose contribution is one of the most important unifying glues in our society. 

A cost of living crisis so soon after a pandemic has all the potential for discouraging and undermining that glue. What National Volunteers’ Week will helpfully do is give us all an opportunity to reflect and take in the sheer scale of what millions of individual contributions can make. The celebration that we invite you to take part in is the appreciation of the contributing individual. Saying thank you when you see a volunteer between June 1st and 7th is a great thing to do. Appreciating what volunteers do all year is even better. 


Michael Green, Volunteering Kingston Project Manager 

Published by Volunteering Kingston and Volunteering BarnetGroundwork London’s volunteering services. 

Become a volunteer! Browse current opportunities with Volunteering Kingston

Balancing kids, work and volunteering

I volunteered, many years ago, then kids came along and there didn’t seem to be much spare time anymore. As the kids grew up, I’d got into the habit of work filling the time available, so I still didn’t seem to have a lot of time. It was after the covid lockdowns that I realised that I did have time, I just needed to organise myself better and remember what I got out of volunteering. 

 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do; I knew regular weekly slots was best for me rather than ad-hoc. I also knew I’d prefer something that got me out of the house. I’d heard of Anstee Bridge previously and been to a couple of their ‘tea parties’ so when I saw them asking for volunteers on Volunteering Kingston, I got in touch with the project manager, Katherine. 

She and Laura were warm and welcoming from the start and always immensely thankful to all their volunteers. Anstee Bridge works with teenagers who have social, emotional and mental health issues. They are referred by their school and usually attend one or half a day a week to do creative workshops. 

I go in for half a day a week and stay with the same young people for the year. I get to know them and see them bloom as their self-esteem increases, and I get to take part in great workshops like candle making, circus skills and painting. I have the simple role of making these fantastic, but troubled, youngsters feel good about themselves through learning new skills in a safe environment. I am well supported by the staff if there are concerns, but that is rare.  

I really enjoy volunteering at Anstee Bridge. I know I help the young people, but I also help myself by giving myself time away from work emails and stresses of general life. When I’m there, it’s not about me or my worries, so they drift away for a few hours, and I feel better at the end of it. 

I’ve also worked with others to start a charity – Friends of Anstee Bridge – to help raise funds for the projects and artists Anstee Bridge use to help the young people. As the chair of trustees, I can say that trustee volunteers work so hard, but it is also rewarding. It suits me to be involved in both, but whoever you are giving time to you will get so much in return. 


Liz Green, Volunteer in Kingston 

Become a volunteer! Browse current opportunities with Volunteering Kingston

National Volunteers’ Week: Guidance pack for VIOs

Volunteers’ Week is a national campaign which takes place between 1-7 June every year. It’s a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.

Volunteers’ Week is supported and celebrated by small grassroots organisations as well as larger, household-name charities, who together run hundreds of activities across the UK. These activities showcase and celebrate volunteers and the contribution volunteering makes to our communities. As a Kingston Volunteer Involving Organisation, we’re asking you to join us in thanking and celebrating the brilliant volunteers giving their time across our borough.

We have created this organisation campaign pack to support you with communications and volunteer engagement through NVW2023. You will find advice and recommendations for ways to give thanks to your volunteers, including social media templates. We hope you find it useful!

Download our guidance pack here: National Volunteers’ Week Organisation Campaign Pack

Huge boost for volunteers and good causes as council recommissions Volunteering Kingston project

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.

Volunteering Kingston’s Community Impact Continues: Renewed contract brings exciting new opportunities in the Borough

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!

A bright future for young volunteers

In my pre-Christmas blog, I referenced how in the post pandemic period there had been a seismic shift in registrations away from “time-rich” volunteers and towards younger volunteers. That phenomenon is partly explained by health worries from the older volunteers and a new wave of enthusiasm for supporting the community from the younger end of the volunteering spectrum. This introduces a plethora of mediums we are able to use to communicate effectively with young people. Whether it is school assemblies, Fresher’s Fairs, the usual social media avenues or the latest apps, young people have never been as accessible as they are today. 

Face to face still has its place; we know that from a couple of recent visits to local schools and how the registration numbers rocketed in the days following that outreach. Not only do our team enjoy presenting to a Sixth Form assembly they also appreciate the feedback they get. Volunteering, as an experience, has to evolve constantly to the changing world we live in. On the digital side, the excellent work of our team ensures we maximise our reach and that effort is demonstrated by the profiles we receive. If there is a new digital app on the block we should take advantage of it, the days of Twitter and Facebook domination are over. 

Young people want more control over their time; the trend is towards bite-sized volunteering that makes a difference on the ground. Dozens of administration roles on our Team Kinetic base do not interest younger volunteers so volunteer centres need a full range of opportunities to entice applications. Similarly, Saturday shifts at a charity shop, whilst useful for those looking to experience work environments for the first time, are not attractive to these energetic young volunteers.  

I am not going to say everything in the garden is rosy when it comes to finding young people opportunities. Duke of Edinburgh opportunities for 13/14 year olds are very difficult to secure, mainly because the insurance industry makes life difficult for VIOs to be open to under 16s (and a few VIOs who mistakenly think safeguarding measures are too much bureaucracy) and work is needed to turn that around. Though, overall, it is a good period in the Volunteering sector for bringing in new blood, enthusiasm, and a wave of committed young people who will create a positive impact. The future is looking bright.


By Michael Green

Volunteering over Christmas, from a younger heart. 


I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a Christmas that has had so little joy in the build-up (and I consider the two Covid pandemic Christmas’s). A combination of war in Europe, the cost of living, the state of play with the climate, and even the weather with the recent cold spell seem to be inviting us to have a pessimistic outlook on the festivities. You could say there is no point fighting reality or you could, as I’m about to suggest, think of things from the heart and let that bring a glimmer of joy to the end of 2022. 

Christmas is always an interesting time for volunteering and volunteers. It is during this period that society notices the contribution of volunteers and the voluntary sector the most. The massive efforts put in to ensure rough-sleepers get some relief. The reaching out to the lonely and isolated. The collecting of items to pass on to children who have very little. The food banks bulging with generosity being distributed widely (too widely for a first world country in the 21st century, some would say) to families in need. All these things can be seen and they remind us that we still have a population that wishes to contribute and assist. 

It is also a tradition that people offer themselves up quite at this time of year, engaging in the volunteering activities listed above: a sign that the spirit and drive of volunteering lives on regardless of the harsh realities of the year that is ending. This annual influx of volunteers is made possible by the meticulous organisation and preparation of homeless shelters, toy banks, food banks and befriending schemes. All of them need to plan months in advance to ensure volunteers are trained and DBS checked.  

If there is one part of 2022 that lifts my spirits it is the age demographic change that has taken place. Understandably there has been a noticeable drop in the cohort we used to call “time rich” (retired in old money) since the pandemic. Usually, this would be a cause for concern but actually what has happened is a younger cohort, one we were struggling to connect with pre-Covid, has stood up to more than compensate for the decline in older volunteers. This is a development that raises spirits across the age demographic, even the most jaundiced of volunteer managers will be heartened by this development. 

Of course, if we can persuade those with extensive life experience back into volunteering we would have the best of both worlds. Combining the enthusiasm of the young with the knowledge of the old. Imagine the successful delivery of all the vital tasks needed over Christmas and New Year and the goals that could be achieved this time next year. Volunteering is being reinvigorated by the young who are putting their hearts into it, that for me provides more to look forward to than any lack of enthusiasm generated by the headlines. Christmas 2022 can be enjoyed and all of us at Volunteering Kingston wish you all the joy there is for the festive period.  


By Michael Green

The importance of looking forward

All the challenges of the last few weeks have rather counter-intuitively generated a sense of ambition within the Voluntary and Community Sector that also motivates volunteers. Respect for and contribution to local communities is now wider, it is more action-orientated and has more traction than that bygone age called 2019.

Looking at Kingston as a borough, how it performed, came together, and responded to challenges (lockdowns, needs, vaccinations, new levels of poverty previously hidden etc.) gives us a clear picture of how important it is to maintain and build on the partnerships and successes of our collective work. That includes the volunteer experience. To get there I have laid out a wish list, but first, a caveat: this list is what a possible future could look like albeit relying heavily on reasonable funds, resources and partnerships to make it a reality and success. The purpose of promoting these possibilities is to invite comments and stimulate alternative suggestions.

  • Hubs, e.g. in pubs/shops/community spaces. Take a model of community space as promoted in the 2021 report on Surbiton Resilience “Every-day life in Surbiton” and replicate where practicable across the borough. Volunteers are attracted to helping in their micro-local locations, this would be a brilliant stimulus to that.
  • Food Heroes. Embed the foodbank street collection system that sprung up locally during the pandemic into the fabric of the borough so that it survives and thrives going forward
  • Time-bank/Skills exchange. Create a borough-wide system with a focus on stimulating volunteering in women whose first language is not English. This would both increase volunteering numbers and be a massive boon to the volunteer experience of a significantly socially isolated part of our community.
  • “Friends of” groups. Expand existing groups for parks/open land/under-utilised green spaces, which is being demonstrated by successful models in other localities. Friends of groups tend to tap into individuals not engaged in their communities already.
  • Bringing together a range of volunteer-led sporting activities/clubs under one banner that stimulates physical activity. Sports volunteering could add so much positive value to public health campaigns. This model could equally apply to the local smaller arts and culture groups.
  • Kingston Stronger Together Hub. Evolve it into a Kingston Council funded “Sustainable Volunteering” Hub, requiring both the Council and partners to be involved. Sustainability projects for volunteering by definition will change the borough landscape positively.
  • A social action portal. Create a web-based interface that advertises all social action activities locally no matter how small/micro in nature. This would be really helpful in attracting younger people to activities.

This list is not definitive, as they say, “other pipe-dreams are available” but I commend them to your thinking if, like us at Volunteering Kingston, re-imaging the Volunteer Experience is important to you.

The Power of Youth: Case study of a volunteer

Volunteering and community go hand in hand and, this year, NVW coincides nicely with the Month of Community, which brings together organisations with a range of events in order to encourage us all to think about and join in with activities happening in our local communities.

The overarching theme of NVW is A Time to Say Thanks, with a day dedicated to the Power of Youth. In honour of this specific day, we have spoken with Bjar, a student volunteer. We thought Bjar would be an excellent example of the contribution young people bring to the volunteering community.

As a student, an artist, and an employee, Bjar still finds time to volunteer at the William Morris Gallery, in Lloyd Park.

As a Walthamstow resident, Bjar visited the nearby gallery and after the recommendation from a member of staff signed up with Legends of the Forest to begin a new volunteer journey. This was an ideal volunteering opportunity for Bjar since it related to their artistic interest. Not only that, the gallery-based role could provide the skills and experience that would benefit career prospects in the area.

When asked, what inspired you to volunteer? Bjar answered, when I was getting more into art, I decided to see if it was possible to volunteer at the William Morris Gallery to gain some experience that was related to what I would like to do in the future.

As a Visitor Volunteer at the gallery, Bjar covers 4 hour sessions with a break for a snack. Speaking to visitors, answering their questions and handing out leaflets, as well as engaging children in challenges in which they can win prizes, keeps the role interesting and varied.

Bjar says, the best thing about the volunteer experience is “being around an inspirational environment” and since Bjar hopes for art to feature in a future career, it feels like “starting a process and moving forward”. To sum up volunteering, Bjar says, it provides the opportunity for inspiration and learning.

Young people, like Bjar, play an essential role in the volunteering community, bringing different energies and skills with them. Legends of the Forest encourages people from all generations to get involved in their community, as everyone can support and learn from each other. Volunteering is highly rewarding and can provide crucial experience to young people looking to start a career and help build their CV as well as the opportunity to form new and lasting friendships.


If you are interested in volunteering, view our wide range of available roles.

Nothing about us without us – the importance of involving disabled volunteers

Then Barbara met Alan

Many people will have seen the recent programme on the BBC, Then Barbara Met Alan, which explores the history of the disability rights movement and the phrase ‘Nothing about us without us’. It highlights the importance of disabled people living their own lives and the patronising attitudes that charities can have towards disabled people.

What do you think of when you think of a disabled volunteer?

  • A teenager with a learning disability looking for work experience.
  • An autistic parent who wants to use their perspective to help families with autistic children.
  • A wheelchair-using CEO who wants to give their business expertise to help struggling charities tackling food poverty.
  • A person with an anxiety disorder who wants to meet new people and make friends.
  • A marketing executive with chronic asthma who wants to join an environmental campaign.
  • A visually impaired accountant who wants to volunteer as they’ve been told it will help them get a promotion.
  • A deaf student who volunteers at a charity shop because they’re obsessed with vintage fashion.

Disabled volunteers volunteer for as many different reasons as non-disabled volunteers. Take our volunteering service in Waltham Forest, for instance, 13% of volunteers self-declare as disabled or say that they need additional support. That’s a lot of volunteers who are excited to give their time.

If you think of disabled volunteers as one type of person or with one set of needs, then you’ll be missing out on a lot of talent, enthusiasm and perspectives.

For organisations that want to involve disabled volunteers, here are some top tips:

  • Learn about the social model of disability and challenge your thinking about where the limits of disabilities are. For example, when you see someone wearing glasses do you think of them as ‘disabled’?
  • Take care that you use modern, up-to-date language. See this guide for some suggestions.
  • Look carefully at the required skills and experiences for your volunteering roles – what is essential and what is a ‘nice to have’. If you have an autistic volunteer who does not use the phone, but would be excellent at other parts of the role, consider making adaptations.
  • Consider having versions of your role descriptions in large print, audio recording, BSL interpretation and Easy Read form.
  • Provide information for others to make decisions, rather than deciding for them. So, if your building has a step, do not say “not accessible to wheelchair users” but rather “there is an 8cm step”. The volunteer can then decide for themselves.
  • Allow volunteers to give their time from home if possible.
  • Consider, if able, providing travel expenses for taxis.
  • Use disabled people to stock recruitment photos.
  • Money is tight, but when making funding applications consider how you can ask for things that make you more accessible and inclusive.
  • Be willing to have an honest and open conversation about disability and the needs of your volunteers.
  • Accept that sometimes a volunteer’s disability may mean things take longer or are done in different ways.
  • Have a clear code of conduct which lays out clear expectations. Do not tolerate abuse or discriminatory ‘jokes’.
  • Get in touch for specialist support and advice (emails below): Waltham Forest (Legends of the Forest), Volunteering Barnet, or Volunteering Kingston

If you are disabled and interested in volunteering, we’d love to hear about your experiences and how we can improve our service. Please get in touch with one of Groundwork London’s volunteering services: Waltham Forest (Legends of the Forest) –, Volunteering Barnet –, or Volunteering Kingston –


Molly Sweeney, Volunteer Development Coordinator – Legends of the Forest


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 below:

Volunteering Kingston

Legends of the Forest, Waltham Forest

Volunteering Barnet