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.

The Future of Volunteering

Volunteers together

When thinking about the future of volunteering, honestly, I get quite excited. This isn’t just because I work in this sector, or because I am a volunteer myself, it’s because I have started to see a greater understanding and appreciation for volunteers over the last few years.

The pandemic changed a lot of things for a lot of people, come of which is overwhelmingly positive. A stronger sense of community and supportive environment blossomed, supporting those most in need and this, for me, is the true beauty of volunteering. So many people who potentially hadn’t been touched by the world of volunteering saw how powerful it really is. People who had never previously needed to access services supported by volunteers soon came to rely on them.

Volunteers delivered food to houses across the nation and many organisations developed befriending services to speak to those who were isolated with no contact or company. Even if you didn’t directly come across volunteers in the pandemic, you will have known someone who did, seen them on the news or heard about them from one of your neighbours. Volunteers became an essential part of the community during the pandemic, something that I see living on now.

People who had never volunteered before but wanted to help, who may have been furloughed and had new time on their hands, took to supporting vaccination centres and developed what I like to call the ‘buzz’ that is volunteering. I think if you have ever volunteered you will understand what I mean by that; the joy that you feel. The sense of fulfilment and community that surrounds you can never be replicated. When volunteering myself or speaking to volunteers, there is rarely a grumble or a moan about the hot day, the need to stay just that little bit longer or the sometimes not so exciting sandwiches. Volunteers give their time because they want to. Being a part of something bigger excites and intrigues them which creates this amazing bubble of wonderful characters.

The pandemic has shown us the full power of volunteering. Many individuals have fallen in love with it, while others have continued to do what they have always done. This excitement and drive to volunteer is still evident, people have seen and felt the benefits not only for themselves but for those around them. As more people work from home, change careers, and have new priorities, now couldn’t be a better time to dip your toes into volunteering. Volunteering offers new skills and experiences, increased confidence and the opportunity to help put a smile on someone else’s face.

I am excited to see where this new energy behind volunteering goes and I look forward to meeting so many new and exciting characters along the way.

Thank you to all of those who supported efforts throughout the pandemic, and before! And best of luck to all those joining this amazing community of people.


Parker Hollants, Volunteer Officer – 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 available roles through Groundwork London’s volunteering services below:

Volunteering Kingston

Legends of the Forest, Waltham Forest

Volunteering Barnet

Judith’s story

As we begin to turn the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, we take a moment to hero some of the volunteering champions that have been helping make the national vaccination drive possible. Below is Judith’s story.

When the announcement was made that the New Malden & Worcester Park Primary Care Vaccination Centre had received their first vaccine shipment on 15th January, Judith started volunteering the very next day. A restaurant supervisor with a bubbly personality, back then Judith was on furlough and she was keen to meet new people and gain new skills.

She also saw volunteering as an opportunity to improve her mental health. She describes missing the social element from her regular employment and how its absence had impacted her generally positive outlook on life. “I’m a people person,” she explains.

“I work in a pub and there we get all sorts of people. And to not have that social interaction really put a strain on my mental health.”

Her self-described “dark days” are now well behind her however. “It’s such a positive atmosphere [at the Vaccination Centre]. The Lead GP is always so positive about getting jabs into people’s arms – it really rubs off. And the fact that we’re all really appreciated is probably the best thing,” she reveals, describing coming home after every volunteer shift feeling elated knowing that she’s contributed towards the global effort against COVID-19. Judith also depicts a picture of true camaraderie amongst the volunteers and says she’s developed a true friendship with some of them. “I never thought a lot of us would become so close. I made some fantastic friends.”

It’s probably no surprise she’s connected with so many volunteers considering Judith has taken on a number of different roles since she started volunteering back in January. She’s volunteered as a Traffic & Parking Marshall, a Welcome & Wayfinding Volunteer, she’s been on administrative duties at the check-in desk and even helped at a local surgery to assist with booking patients in to get their vaccines. “As new roles came up I just wanted as much experience as possible,” she explains, adding that it’s allowed her to widen her contact network and enhance her skill set even further.

Now back at her full-time job, Judith hopes to continue volunteering. She describes the experience as fulfilling and heartwarming and recommends others get involved. “I’ve dragged my dad into it,” she says cheerfully.

“He wanted to give back to the community as well, so I dragged him along when there was a gap to fill!”

Would you like to join the Vaccination Programme or volunteer for a local charity? Check out the current openings here.

Want to share your volunteering story? Get in touch!


This article was written by Dany Rubbo, Comms Volunteer at Volunteering Kingston.

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.


Celebrate the festive season with volunteering

The run-up to Christmas is very different this year and volunteering for Christmas is no different. While there are still some volunteer roles that will require in-person volunteers it is likely that most volunteering will be done from home.


Out and about

There will be fewer opportunities to volunteer out and about this Christmas, but there are a couple of ways to volunteer:

Safety first – always following NHS and government guidance. Never volunteer when you are unwell or told to self-isolate, and do not volunteer outside of your home if you in a high-risk group.


From the comfort of your own home

If you’d prefer to do good from the sofa, here are some ways you can show goodwill to all this Christmas:

  1. Organise a virtual Christmas quiz to raise money for a good cause. Lots of big charities create quiz packs ready-made to be used – they are a great way of bringing together extended family over zoom.
  2. Order your Christmas cards from a charity’s website, for example, Cards for Good Causes or from a charity shop.
  3. Sign up to be a telephone buddy and commit to a half-hour friendly conversation with a lonely person into the new year.
  4.  Join Sewing for Kingston and use your crafting skills to make important items – from scrubs for medical staff to face coverings to blankets for premature babies: “Our community are a font of knowledge and are always happy to share tips and expertise via our Facebook group, so I’d encourage anyone who’s a bit nervous about sewing or related crafts to join up and give it a go”.
  5. Become a Street Champion and be a hub for local donations of food.


Places to donate

It has been a very challenging year for everyone, and if you’re in the position to donate, there are many charities in Kingston who will be very grateful for whatever you can spare:

  • As sadly big parties are likely to be out this year, if you are able, why not donate the money you would have spent to Kingston foodbank?
  • Donate to Voices of Hope to help families enjoy the festive season with gift boxes full of presents and festive activities.
  • If you want to learn more about organisations before you make your mind up as to which one should receive your money, you can find stories about the amazing things they have done over the past nine months.


Looking forward to the new year

Want to put 2020 behind you? You are not alone!

If you want to embrace the challenges and joys of 2021 then why not have a look for a volunteer role in the new year. You could improve your admin skills, befriend people who are isolated or get outdoors helping with gardening. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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.

“Being a trustee offers a real and important way of contributing to society”

Richard Williams
Chair of Trustees, Learn English at Home


Learn English At Home (LEAH) provides one on one English tuition to disadvantaged migrants and refugees in the SW London boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, and Hounslow.  Richard initially volunteered as a tutor with LEAH when he retired from his career in the Civil Service. He explained that the experience gave him a “real appreciation of the benefits LEAH brought to migrant communities in the area, and of the needs of and problems experienced by those communities”.

When the opportunity to become a trustee of LEAH arose, Richard jumped at the chance. We asked him about his experience of being a trustee, and more recently, the Chair of the Board. We asked Richard what it really takes to become a Trustee.


What do your responsibilities look like as a trustee?

My main role recently has been contributing to and chairing meetings about the charity’s work and its future strategy.  I chair the Board of Trustees and attend other committees – we run a Programme Development Committee, a Fundraising Committee, and a Finance Committee.  As well as contributing to the charity’s future strategy, I attend fundraising events, speak about the charity’s work to local stakeholders, and become involved in discussions with local stakeholders and funders.  I also line manage the charity’s Director.  I think one of the functions of the Chair is to raise the profile of the charity and to spread information about its work, and I always seek ways of doing more of this.


What has been the best thing about being a trustee?

It has been really good to work with a group of people who are genuinely committed to improving a lot of disadvantaged communities and promoting social cohesion in what seems a difficult time for migrants.  I’ve been impressed by the successes we have achieved, and by the stories our students bring about how improving their English has enriched their lives.


What hopes do you have for the Board’s future?

We are an inclusive Board, although hardly as diverse as our client communities.  I hope that we will be able to enrich the Board with new and more diverse talent in the coming months and years.


How has COVID-19 impacted on your role as a trustee this past year?  

This has indeed been a turbulent year. We have had to change the ways we work in so many ways.  I am proud of the way we have turned what was a face-to-face service into a remotely-delivered one, which continues to benefit many of our disadvantaged clients. Trustees have been very active in keeping abreast of this and acting as a critical friend to the Director as she has introduced these changes. Trustees’ meetings have also become virtual, which presents some challenges in managing a busy agenda. There is a plus side, however, our new ways of working have given us many ideas about how to deliver new and better services in the future, and thereby enrich the support we give to our students – and that can only be a good thing.


Would you recommend becoming a trustee to other people?

Being a trustee offers a real and important way of contributing to society and our local communities – the opportunity to develop and expand networks in the local community, and to develop links, and sometimes friendships with other people working with disadvantaged groups.  The work is interesting and although it takes some time and effort, it is very worthwhile.

Planning your gap year? Why not consider volunteering?

Lots of young people are planning their gap years after a tumultuous six months. A lot of normal gap year rites of passage are not possible at the moment. Volunteering is a great way of making the most of your gap year – it helps you gain new skills and knowledge, as well as providing experiences that will last a lifetime.

Volunteering can also be flexible around other commitments, such as re-taking exams, finding a part-time job and caring for others.

Of course, we have all had to take precautions during this period. When volunteering you should have a discussion to mitigate any risks. There are also loads of roles you can do from home, from helping a charity’s social media to making phone calls to isolated people.


Supporting people and communities

During this period we have seen an astonishing explosion in volunteering from the NHS Responders Volunteers to the informal Mutual Aid groups that have sprung up. Volunteers in formal and informal groups have delivered shopping, medical supplies and provided a friendly ear on the phone.

Past few months have exacerbated and exposed many social issues. Black Lives Matter and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities have encouraged many people to join antiracist campaigns. Loneliness and poverty have also been highlighted and many people have banded together in new and innovative ways to combat them.

If you want to make a difference and give your time to support the most vulnerable in society, you can search here for different causes.



Of course, volunteering is not only about others, but it can also help you gain new skills and experience in advance of further studying.

That could be gaining experience with children or supporting adults, getting admin or marketing experience for your first office job, or in an area of interest such as theatre or the environment.

When applying for your volunteer role, make sure that you are clear about what you want to learn and what skills you want to gain with the organisation. As you are helping them, they should support you in gaining the skills or let you know if that is not possible.



Travelling around the world may not be possible at the moment, but you can still get a taste of adventure and widen your horizons before you get back to studying or start your career.

You might consider full-time volunteering, which involves moving to another part of the country having accommodation and other expenses paid for. Find out more at full-time volunteering.

You might want to set up your own group to show your initiative and explore an area you are interested in. The Library Service can help you with this.


Support and advice

If you want any support or advice about volunteering please get in touch. You can reach us through

Call: 0300 365 9980



Facebook: @volunteeringkingston

Twitter: @vol_kingston

Visit Story Map to learn more about Volunteering Kington.

Doing good makes you feel good

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. 

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!