A buzzing Borough Belles meeting kicked off 2015, as we threw ourselves into volunteering speed dating. Representatives from six local charities and organisations gave up their Wednesday evening to tell the Belles how they can get involved with volunteering this year – and how it will benefit them, as well as the groups (and people) they help out.
In our lovely new venue at Cathedral Street in Borough Market, the organisations set up around the room as groups of Belles had 15 minutes with each, to find out who they are, what they do, and discover what’s involved with volunteering with them. Needless to say, there were some hoarse voices by the end of the night after all the talking!
For anyone who missed the meeting, or wants a reminder of who we met, here’s a speedy taster of each of the organisations…
Looking for new direction? Let’s look together…
Volunteer Centre Southwark helps you find your ideal volunteering match. As well as countering the misconceptions about volunteering, they perform a fantastic service by bringing together volunteers and charities. Alasdair Sladen explained how their drop-in service works: an advisor registers you on their system, which matches your skills with a suitable organisation or project. Whatever your interests there’s likely to be something, including knitting groups, creative arts workshops, and theatre.
Even the busiest Belle could micro-volunteer from as little as half an hour a month. And the benefits range from developing new skills to enhancing your CV, as well as meeting new people and supporting your community. Drop in to www.volunteercentres.org.uk to get advice and find your match.
Fit and friendly – can you keep up?…
GoodGym helps you get fit by doing good. They’re a group of runners that combines exercise with helping the local community – you run to a local project, help out with a physical task like gardening, or at a city farm, then you run back. Becky and Richard explained that they work like any other running club so cater to all abilities, and offer advice on a training programme, teach nutrition, etc. as well as providing active volunteering opportunities. You can also be paired up with an elderly person (or ‘coach’) to befriend and solo run to, which can be even more rewarding.
Group runs are Monday to Wednesday evenings, and if you have a coach you typically visit them once a week. So if your new year’s resolution is to get fit as well as give back, put on your running shoes and head to www.goodgym.org to get involved. And our very own running club – Belles of Fire – are planning to link up with GoodGym, so keep an eye on our dedicated running club page!
Mature person seeks company and support…
Age UK empowers older people to take control of their lives, helping them through financial, emotional and physical challenges. Helen Mangan talked about the different projects volunteers can get involved with – from the garden project, where you help maintain the garden of someone less mobile, and help at home, where you might do shopping for someone unable to get out, to the befriending project, when you may just pop in for a cup of tea and a chat, providing much needed company.
Several of the projects can be undertaken outside work hours, and they range in levels of commitment. Volunteering with older people can be very rewarding, and a great way to build friendships, so to find out how to volunteer with Age UK visit www.ageuk.org.uk/lewishamandsouthwark
Willing to offer a helping hand?…
Hestia provides a range of specialist support services to vulnerable people – including ex-offenders and those with mental health needs – but they primarily offer domestic abuse services. Millie Hinton shared some of the support they give women and children escaping from abuse, through refuges, floating support, and much needed legal help.
Nuria – their Central Volunteer Coordinator – ran through the ways we can get involved. Opportunities to volunteer are many and varied: you could help out at their one off events such as a market or comedy night, provide support based around a skill or interest, or you could just help raise awareness through leafleting. Visit www.hestia.org to find out how you can help this invaluable organisation.
Wanted: people to help change kids’ lives…
Kids Company provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children and young people. Petula Storey explained how children can just walk in to their centres if they need help; there are four centres in south London, where volunteers can make a real difference. They run after school clubs for crafts, sport, computing and homework where you can share your skills. They also run mentoring programmes which can take place at weekends for those needing more flexible volunteering opportunities, although they are a one year commitment.
If you can only volunteer occasionally you can simply join their Volunteer Pool to find out about ad hoc events like wrapping Christmas presents, so to make a real difference in children’s lives sign up at www.kidsco.org.uk
Likes: seaside walks. Interests: environmental issues…
And finally, our very own Belle Emily Smith represented an organisation close to her own heart, the Marine Conservation Society. Anyone who loves the sea should support this organisation: working to protect our seas, shores and wildlife there are three main ways you can get involved. Join their campaign to protect biodiversity, by lobbying the government for Marine Protected Areas of sea; support sustainable fishing by only buying fish from sustainable sources (download their handy Good Fish Guide app which tells you which species to avoid); and tackle marine litter by joining in their beach cleans.
They also run a range of other campaigns you can get involved with, so any water baby Belles should jump in at www.mcsuk.org
Thanks so much to all the organisations that came along – and if you’re a Belle who’s taking up volunteering this year, let us know all about it!
BOROUGH MARKET // LOCATION
VOLUNTEER SPEED DATING // CHARITIES
MEMBERS PACKS // SIGNING UP