Eggs, in many baskets.

Easter, with its moveable dates, its complex mixture of general holiday, sporting weekend, chocolate centric themes and occasionally the first sign of proper spring weather, is a reflective time. This year’s Easter weekend was no exception. In volunteering terms, Easter does not have the focus that Christmas and New Year period can generate. Nevertheless, Easter is a good representation of the wide range of volunteer opportunities that take place or are available.

Flexible Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering is no longer just turning up twice a week at the same place and performing a regular service. Today, volunteers want more variety, Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIO’s) are interested in more flexible volunteers, the range of skills required and experience needed is so much more eclectic than was the case even just five years ago. Volunteers don’t put all their eggs in one basket anymore.

Whilst the 2020-2022 Covid centric experience wasn’t where groups like GoodGym were formed, it was where that flexible responsive nature had a positive light shone on it. Likewise with bite-size and micro volunteering, it was the ability to positively contribute without having to commit to set hours/days which attracted a new cohort to the positives of volunteering. As articulated in blogs past, the age dynamic for volunteers has shifted markedly since 2019, whilst it is easy to just note the decline in “time-rich” older volunteers it is a mistake not to acknowledge the balancing that has taken place with younger, more pro-active volunteers stepping up.

Like all supply and demand situations, there is always a slight lag between the request for flexible volunteering opportunities, or multi-micro volunteering, and the availability to meet those requests. VIO’s however do seem to want to meet the expectations of a new approach, however it tends to be the traditional structures, delivering for communities already, that get priority. Balancing the two is key to ensuring volunteering stays relevant and popular – taking for granted that there will always be volunteers waiting would be a mistake. As anyone who checks in regularly at the evolution of opportunities, from static to organic, will continue in 2024, and the more the merrier for this new approach.

National Volunteers’ Week: Being the Change

Our annual celebration of all things volunteering will soon end… National Volunteers Week (June 1st-7th) will be back in 2024, but what will be different – both for us in the sector and the communities we support? If we have learnt anything from the history of the last 15 years, it is surely that change comes at you fast! The question is; how do we ensure that we can be the change we want to see? 

Whether it’s celebrating and inspiring or strengthening the diversity of contributions; we can’t be static in the 51 weeks of the year when we’re not in ‘celebration mode’. Whether for national campaigning groups, service delivery organisations, mutual aid or every town and village’s version of Beazley Street Community Association; the need to be the force for positive change is paramount. Politics and Governments may try to influence direction, but it is the experience of volunteers – seeing the reality of people’s lives – that matters. That should always be the most influential player in change.  

Covid and the cost of living crises opened our eyes to how vital the ‘on-the-ground’ capacity of volunteering is. With that comes power and responsibility. This power is already manifesting itself with a new, more collaborative approach towards our sector, from Local and National Government. The responsibility it brings is to ensure that it is never taken away again. We are serious players in serious times. 

In a world where the loudest voice isn’t always the most perceptive or productive, and where attention spans can be short, it is imperative that our experience helps shape the future and ensures any change is helpful. We do that best by continuing to be ourselves. Volunteering is the quickest and most effective way to bring change. Whether small scale or the first step in a thousand-mile march: our contribution is needed everywhere.  

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

National Volunteers’ Week: Diversity is a strength, our strength

A friend of mine texted me in advance of meeting up in a pub recently. They felt the need to explain the diverse characteristics of their friend (who was considering joining us). Those characteristics seemed no more unusual than is the welcome norm in places like London.

I reflected on this and felt that, whilst the pre-explanation was unnecessary, the fact that diversity is the norm is something to reflect joyfully on. 

In volunteering, diversity has existed for a long time. Yes it, like all aspects of our society, has taken time to evolve and becomes more inclusive as we can learn ways of best practice. But the reality is, the range, issues and diverse clients of voluntary organisations, the issues those organisations are embedded in, and the range of clients served have meant volunteering has always been an outlier for progress and change. Long it may continue.   

What volunteering has shown again and again is that as diversity becomes second nature the strength of the sector, and the individual driving forces behind that strength, grow exponentially. Signposting, social prescribing, opportunities for all, reaching out to the seldom heard or seen, welcoming those displaced…  All these cascade engagements and understanding, which then allows for enhanced contributions and shared experiences across a wide range of diverse backgrounds. A virtuous circle we can all enjoy. 

National Volunteers’ Week (June 1st to June 7th) will celebrate the strength of diversity – and rightly so. Ultimately, when we celebrate that diverse strength in volunteering, we are celebrating ourselves. 

We are all diverse, all different, all unique in so many ways; and we contribute to a united strength that is unsurpassable. 


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

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

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

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.

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

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