#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.

HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT BUCKSVISION AS A VOLUNTEER?

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

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

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.

WHAT IS HAZARD ALLEY?

‘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.

WHAT DOES A VOLUNTEER TOUR GUIDE DO?

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.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE AND APPLY:

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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HAZARD ALLEY

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.

Blog Post Charities & Community Groups Volunteering

#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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#Volunteersweek: Community Action: MK is the hub for Volunteering in Milton Keynes

Community Action: MK is the hub for Volunteering in Milton Keynes

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How can we help you find your perfect Volunteering role?

Help make giant carnival puppets, share some time with older, lonely people in your community, balance the books for a local charity, plant wildflowers along a new canal, use your digital skills to promote local events, drive a vulnerable person to hospital, help young people gain self-esteem and confidence, become a school governor – the list of volunteering opportunities in Milton Keynes is endless and diverse.

Volunteering is for everyone, whatever your age or situation. Whether you have a short amount of time, are looking for a one-off opportunity or something more regular to get your teeth into, we can help you find what’s right for you.

We use Simply Connect to list all the opportunities available in Milton Keynes. It’s easy to search using your interests, skills, and location and express an interest in finding out more about an opportunity.

Search for volunteering opportunities in Milton Keynes.

Community Action also hold a Volunteer drop in service every Tuesday afternoon from 1pm -3pm at Acorn House, 351 Midsummer Blvd, CMK, MK9 3HP. Pop in to speak to our friendly Volunteering advisers and find out about the many local volunteering opportunities you could get involved with.

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How we can help your Organisation promote volunteering opportunities?

Are you a local charity, community group or project looking to recruit volunteers? Advertise your volunteer opportunities for free on our Simply Connect site www.vcconnectsystem.org.uk

Our volunteering platform puts you in control of your volunteering and befriending services, matching people to the best role for them and increasing skills, confidence, and wellbeing for all.

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#VolunteersWeek: Get inspired by these National Trust volunteers!

National Trust in Stowe is a truly beautiful place to volunteer at and they have been very lucky to get support from a number of dedicated volunteers.

Read on to find out more about what inspires them to give their time and skills to support National Trust through a variety of volunteering roles, and what their favourite places at the Stowe Park are…

LIZ

This is Liz. Along with her husband Conrad, she volunteers multiple times a week and spends lots of quality time at Stowe with her family. Liz can often be found at New Inn playing tunes on her recorder and is part of the fundraising team selling National Trust raffle tickets. Liz’s favourite place at Stowe is in the Elysian Fields because of the way the British Worthies look towards the Temple of Ancient Virtue, she says, “there is so much history behind it!” She finds it is very beautiful and peaceful no matter what time of year and she loves to sketch the view.

MICHAEL

Michael here is one of Stowe’s faithful buggy drivers, helping visitors get to and from the garden on their electric mobility vehicles. He told us his favourite place at Stowe is in Lamport Garden. He thinks it is a peaceful area. He likes the waterfall and the succession of colourful plants. He feels it offers a nice contrast to rest of the Stowe landscape.

SUE

Sue is part of the visitor welcome team at weekends. She coordinates the volunteer’s monthly social coffee hour and supports the young Duke of Edinburgh volunteers. Her favourite place at Stowe is at a Yew tree near to the Temple of Ancient Virtue. She likes it because it is secretive, mysterious, and fun to play on. It also provides a great place to take shelter!!

PAUL

This is Paul, he volunteers in the welcome team, greeting Stowe’s visitors, and he loves visiting Stowe regularly with his two dogs.  When asked his favourite place at Stowe he said, “I love the Saxon Deities, it’s feels like a tucked away secret place that is a bit mystical. I get great fun from telling people that there are only six deities (Sunday is missing) and that’s why we get Sundays off work. It’s lovely to hear them say things like “really” or “oh I see” before they realise I’m pulling their leg, normally with a hearty laugh!”

ANDY

This is Andy. He is one of Stowe’s knowledgeable tour guides. His favourite place at Stowe is at the Temple of Friendship. He loves the view here because there is so much to see. “When I am guiding it is a great place to explain landscape gardening and how the great landscape gardeners managed to create the wonderful balance between the temples and the natural environment – for example the trees were carefully chosen so that when mature they would perfectly frame Lord Cobham’s Pillar.”

Find your favourite place at Stowe: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

If you are interested in exploring volunteering opportunities at National Trust, please follow this link.

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#VolunteersWeek: Buckingham Canal Society needs volunteers!

Since 1992 Buckingham Canal Society have been working on sites along the Old Stratford and Buckingham arms of the Grand Union Canal which they eventually hope to see re-opened breathing new life, recreational opportunities and environment friendly business to the area.

The society’s aim is the restoration of the Buckingham Canal to full navigable order, to promote and improve conservation, biodiversity and quality of life.

THURSDAY 6TH JUNE:  ‘HANDS ON’ VOLUNTEERING PROJECT – ALL WELCOME!

The Society are marking the National Volunteers Week by running an extra practical task on Thursday 6th June:

The Buckingham Canal Society are working to restore the disused Buckingham Canal which use to run from the village of Cosgrove to the town of Buckingham hoping that to people will join us in this exciting project for part of ‘National Volunteers Week’.

As a volunteer on the day, you will have a chance to be part of a team helping to restore part of a canal bridge or they may be helping to improve part of the towpath at Cosgrove.  This gets very muddy in winter and is almost impossible to walk along so the work is to help disabled people enjoy the canal more and also be of great assistance to other walker and boaters.  

If you want to be part of the exciting project and want more information email info@buckinghamcanal.org.uk or ring 01908 661217 or just turn up on Thursday 6th June at 10.00 in Lock Lane, MK19 7JR

You will need to wear oldish clothes and bring lunch but they will supply all tools and equipment, and training is given where necessary but no experience is needed and we are a very  friendly group and always welcome new people.

NOT AVAILABLE ON THE 6TH OF JUNE, BUT KEEN TO GET INVOLVED?

If you have an interest an interest in and passion for conservation and environmental work, the Society has a number of volunteering roles currently available. It is a great chance to help the environment whilst also enjoy the great outdoors, however administrative roles are also available!  Please follow the links below to get more details and to apply through our volunteer recruitment platform, Simply Connect:

Conservation Volunteer

Bricklayer

Committee Minutes Secretary

Trustee/secretary

Fundraising Volunteer

Nature Reserve Restoration (group volunteering opportunity!)

Planning Post (experience of writing and submitting planning applications desirable)

Publicity Officer

Social Media Volunteer

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE…

To find out more about the work of Buckingham Canal Society as well as about their history and the history of the Canal, visit their website on

https://www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk or follow the Society on social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/BuckinghamCanalSociety

Twitter: twitter.com/BCSocietyUK (#Buckingham Canal Society #BCS)

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