21st June: A Community of Practice: All VCS practitioners welcome

Do you work / volunteer with Children and Young People in MK? Do you offer support for their mental health and sense of wellbeing?

Such work is rewarding but can be demanding. We know that within the Voluntary and Community Sector in MK there are many groups working in this field and over 20 of us met last month to discuss forming a Community of Practice.

The second meeting will take place on:

FRIDAY 21st JUNE 9.30am – midday at Service Six, Chapter House, Coffee Hall, MK6 5EE

A Community of Practice is where people expand their knowledge and personal development of a certain topic or focus through meeting (face- to- face and on-line) to learn together, share information and be challenged, enjoying occasional presentations and workshops and doing whatever they decide to expand their professional understanding and influence.

On FRIDAY 21st JUNE we will be planning a programme based on the themes identified at our first session .

1.Promotion – how do we promote our services and understand more about what other organisations are delivering in our area in order to co-operate  and make new relationships? What are the variety of, and best practice, methods for getting our messages across and influencing future plans within our service and across agencies?

2.Quality Standards – what does co-produced ‘best’ look like? How can we co-produce plans and services with CYP? How could we use data, models and knowledge we co-produce with young people to influence commissioners, funders and inter-agency debate so that high quality holistic services can happen?

3.The Local Offer – how can we use experience, knowledge, data and research to foster resilience in young people experiencing physical and/or mental challenges?  How can we build CYP confidence and ability to contribute to co-produced support?

Whilst the primary goal of a CoP is to expand individual knowledge and practice, only if people at a strategic level are involved in some way can individuals try out and embed their ‘new’ knowledge, and influence change. So we will be planning how to involve people at a strategic level, such as managers and trustees. Managers and trustees – do come and join us!

A closed Facebook (somewhat darkly called a “secret group”) where you can raise questions, issues and contribute to discussion before (and after) June’s Workshop is also being set up.

Please do get in touch if you want to know more or want to come along on Friday 21st June.




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#VolunteersWeek: Grandmentors


Grandmentors is an innovative volunteering project where older volunteers use their lifetime of skills and experience to support and mentor vulnerable young people leaving the care system. It is a flagship national programme that has won multiple national awards.

The programme is run by Volunteering Matters, a national charity working to fulfill their vision of a society where everyone can participate in their local community through volunteering and social action.

These young people who are out of employment, education or training (NEET) often need a guiding hand and role model to support them to find work, continue their education or begin training – ultimately giving them the skills and self-belief to lead successful and independent lives.


Volunteers meet with a young person each week to boost their confidence and work towards goals which are unique to each young person. Volunteers support where they can to help these young care leavers find their feet and reach their full potential. All volunteers are given full support and training throughout their time on the project.


  • Be aged 50+
  • Good people and communication skills, patience
  • DBS (criminal record) check will be performed
  • Long-term commitment (min. one year)
  • Based in Milton Keynes


As a volunteer you’ll receive:

  • Full training
  • Ongoing support including monthly mentor support meetings
  • Reimbursement of your expenses Expenses


Through using my wisdom, experience, patience and creative mindset my mentee and I were able to focus on their new direction in life


The Grandmentors project appealed to me as it gives me the opportunity to work with young people who both need and want support.  In a role where I would be able to share my knowledge and experience. I also hope that in doing so I will inspire others to volunteer.


I decided to become a Grandmentor in order to give myself a feeling of renewed pride as well as giving me the opportunity to have an involvement in the local community where I live



Our Grandmentors give their mentee the pen and let them write their future



You can access the role through our Simply Connect volunteering platform – please follow this link to apply.

You can find out more about this innovative volunteering programme on: volunteeringmatters.org.uk/opportunity/grandmentors-mk or follow Volunteering Matters, including Kelly Israel, Volunteer Manager of the programme in MK, on  social media.

Facebook: facebook.com/volunteeringmatters
Twitter:   @volunteering_uk

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#VolunteersWeek: Sailability MK needs volunteers – Can you help?

Enabling the freedom of sailing to all at South Caldecotte Lake, Milton Keynes

Sailability Milton Keynes aims to promote and encourage recreational and competitive sailing for people with disabilities, with the objective of improving their quality of life. Their volunteers help people of all ages to participate and enjoy sailing. They are based at Milton Keynes Sailing club, South Caldecotte Lake. Your donations help provide boats, equipment and support their volunteer instructors. They welcome people of all abilities: sailors and non-sailors.

Why does the community needs Sailability MK?

When people are impacted by a life changing accident, or illness or if they have learning or visual impairments, Sailability MK can help these people establish independence and freedom. People of all ages are able to enjoy sailing in Milton Keynes. Thanks to generous donations and sponsors, they have 8 boats especially designed to be stable and suitable for people with range of abilities. Their special hoist can make getting into a boat simple and straightforward.

Sailability MK’s impact on the community

Sail days provide a mixed social group where all participants, including volunteers, have an enjoyable time, providing a medium for greater confidence in the wider community. Through our links with the Royal Yachting Association, they can offer development and support for people who want to achieve excellence to international level, or simply potter around in their boats. http://www.rya.org.uk/sailability

Volunteers needed

Help rig, launch and sail our boats on Saturdays and some Wednesdays. Contact Tim on 0791 008 6743 or e-mail: sailabilitymk@gmail.com

To find out more about Sailability MK, visit their website: www.mksailability.com. You can also follow them on social media

Twitter: @SailabilityMk

Facebook: facebook.com/SailabilityMK

You can also watch videos on their YouTube channel – here.

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#VolunteersWeek: Volunteer your home as a sanctuary

Sanctuary Hosting service Coordinator, Elaine, came into the office the other day, and said this:

‘I introduced a guest to a new host today and it never gets old after so many times and years, it blows me away every time when a volunteer host family says to a complete stranger: ‘My home is your home, help yourself to anything in the fridge’.

That is it really – in a nutshell.

Sanctuary Hosting offers the chance for homeowners in the Thames Valley to give a bed to someone seeking a new life in our community. And they do.

Since they started in 2015, 80 people have volunteered to open up their spare room to a stranger. Sometimes for a few nights, sometimes for a few months- it’s up to the host. And for them, it’s a question of humanity and the recognition that we all need a safe place to lay our head, and some of us who have it can offer that to others who don’t.

Madeleine has hosted nine ‘guests’ since 2015 when the refugee crisis hit a peak, with the terrible images of a little Syrian boy washed up on a Mediterranean beach. She said it was a tangible way to help:

It’s more than just ‘doing good’. It’s quite deep. It’s about equality and respect, and all those things. You’re living it a bit, rather than just reading about it or thinking about it.’

Of course – like having any guests – there can be difficult moments, and many of the guests are traumatised by their past experiences, but there are also moments of magic.

‘It’s amazing being able to laugh about things with people from a different culture. I love that- when you find so much difference, but you find something you can both giggle about, or do together. Humour is a really big positive. Seeing a guest become more confident and more ‘in themselves’ is wonderful’.

Aside from hosting, Sanctuary Hosting also offer other volunteering roles as a guest or host support worker that usually take a couple of hours a week to help hosting placements run smoothly and be a support for the guests and hosts. If you are unable to host or volunteer, consider giving £10 per month. Such support goes a very long way in our dynamic small charity. Please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

Sanctuary Hosting is a registered UK charity that provides shelter to homeless vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are destitute. They work across the Thames Valley to match guests to generous people who have a spare room to accommodate them temporarily.

The idea for “Sanctuary Hosting” came at the Refugees Welcome demonstration in Oxford, in July 2015. In his speech to the crowd our founder Wyon Stansfeld asked, who would be willing to open up their home to a refugee or migrant in need? The response was startling. Many people volunteered. And so their service began. Thanks to the Big Lottery and Oxford City Council, they work in partnership with the British Red Cross and Citizens Advice Reading to holistically support their guests.

You can apply to volunteer with Sanctuary Hosting through our online volunteering platform, Simply Connect:

Volunteer Guest Support Worker
Volunteer Host
Volunteer Host Support Worker

To find out more about Sanctuary Hosting, visit their website: sanctuaryhosting.org. You can also follow them on social media:

Twitter: @SanctuaryHUK

Facebook: facebook.com/SanctuaryHUK/

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#VolunteersWeek: BucksVision-give support to people with sight loss

There are an estimated 23,000 people living in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes with sight loss.

However, sight loss doesn’t mean you stop living or enjoying your life and BucksVision are here to support people to do this.

BucksVision is the local charity supporting people with sight loss across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. They offer a range of services including:

  • advice and information on living with sight loss;
  • practical support on using new technology;
  • advice and information on equipment;
  • befriending services; and social and sporting activities.


BucksVision currently have a number of volunteering roles available – to find out more about these roles and to apply,  please follow the links below:

Resource Room Volunteer

Make visitors feel welcome by demonstrating and providing information as they browse through a host of handy products that can help them to live independently.

Volunteer Tandem Pilot

Assist our visually impaired members enjoy a tandem experience

Social and Activity Support Volunteer

Assist with social groups and/or activities for blind and partially sighted people

Sports and Activities Volunteer

Support visually impaired members to participate in sports and activities

Telephone Befriender

Offer companionship via telephone conversations and alleviate the loneliness blind and partially sighted people can often experience

Volunteer Befriender

Offer companionship and alleviate the loneliness blind and partially sighted people can often experience.

Volunteer Driver

Help drive driving blind and partially sighted people from their homes to local activities

Walking Group Sighted Guides and Drivers

Help visually impaired people in your local community to get active and healthy, providing vital support that they otherwise might not get


To find out more about BucksVision and its work, please visit their website: https://www.bucksvision.co.uk/

You can also follow them on social media:

Twitter: @BucksVision

Facebook: facebook.com/bucksvision

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#VolunteersWeek: Become a Volunteer Tour Guide at Hazard Alley

The Safety Centre, better known as Hazard Alley, is on the lookout for people to volunteer as tour guides. They  need more people to take small groups of primary aged children coming on school visits through the 12 everyday scenarios in their interactive safety learning village.


‘Hazard Alley’ was the first purpose-built safety education centre in the UK, designed to give visitors a unique interactive learning experience.  During a tour in our ‘life size’ village, young people encounter a range of ‘hazards’ giving them the opportunity to develop vital knowledge and strategies on how to stay safe.


If you enjoy working with youngsters and want the satisfaction of teaching children invaluable life skills such as how to make 999 calls and put casualties into the recovery position as well as what to do in the event of a fire, how to cross the road safely, and ways to stay safer online, you will enjoy being a tour guide. They’re also a friendly bunch who enjoy buddying with new volunteers on tours and showing them how to lead a group.

You will be asked for a minimum of 4 hours a month and you can give your time regularly each week or flexibly to fit with other commitments.

You will receive full training and you don’t need to have experience of working with children to be able to become a guide.

You can get your travel expenses reimbursed and will receive a safety centre polo shirt and sweatshirt to wear when guiding, and organise social activities such as a summer outing.


Please contact Val Williams for more information or to arrange to visit the centre and see a tour in action. Telephone 01908 263 009 or email info@safetycentre.co.uk

You can also access the role through our Simply Connect volunteering platform – please follow this link to apply.


To find out more about The Safety Centre, visit: http://www.safetycentre.co.uk or follow them on social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/safetycentre

Twitter: @HazardAlley (#hazardalley)

You can also watch a short video about Hazard Alley here.

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#VolunteersWeek: Weekly Volunteer Drop-In in Milton Keynes

It’s the national Volunteers Week and we wanted to remind you about the weekly Volunteer Drop-In

  • Every Tuesday
  • 1-3pm
  • Acorn House, 351 Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3HP

The drop-in is run by our wonderful volunteers, Jill and Mary, who enjoy chatting to people about the variety of volunteering roles available at a wide range of not-for-profit organisations in Milton Keynes and guide them through our volunteer recruitment platform, Simply Connect.

We would like to thank Jill and Mary for their energy and dedication in helping to run the drop-in every week!

To mark Volunteers Week, we will be running a special edition of our drop-in tomorrow, Tuesday 4th June, with our friends from Volunteering Matters and MK Sailability, who will be promoting their current volunteering opportunities!

Come along to find our more and explore how you could be making a difference through volunteering.

If you can’t make it to the drop-in, you can search for volunteering roles on our volunteer recruitment platform, Simply Connect.

If you are a local group or organisations wanting to find volunteers and advertise your opportunities, please follow this link.

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