Volunteering Round Up 31st July

The Value of Volunteering

Community Action: MK’s flagship community mobiliser service was recently reviewed by an external SROI expert who concluded that for every pound of investment from MK Council, our service delivered £8.15 of benefits.

Our community mobilisers are often the key first point of contact for people to connect with volunteering as a way of helping to shape their community, develop new skills, address social isolation and make a positive contribution. This is just one of the ways we support volunteering to happen in the city – helping to support and inspire new volunteers and people who might face barriers and challenges in stepping up to volunteer. Alongside our brokerage service which helps over 1500 people a year volunteer for over 350 charities and community groups, we’re proud to have such a comprehensive support system for volunteering to flourish.

Sadly, the Community Mobiliser service as we know it, will be ending soon. Read more about why that is and why we are working hard to find ways to continue to do this vital work.

Student Volunteering

The Community Action: MK Volunteering team will be attending freshers fairs at MK College this September, helping students find to volunteering opportunities. If your group would like to find out more about how to involve young people in volunteering and develop opportunities that appeal to people looking to improve employability and skills, please talk to us. We can advise on everything from policies and procedures to copywriting skills.

Email debbie@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Employee Volunteering

Volunteering and making a difference isn’t always about a big team making a big statement – just ask Abbegail Sawney and her team of 2 from Home Retail Group! Originally the team were about 8 – 10 people in size but due to sickness and other commitments on the day the team shrunk. However, the group of 3 from HRG made a big impact on one of the gardens owned by the charity St Mungo’s.

st mungos june hrg2

St Mungo’s support young people and provide a safe place to live for a period of time. They support people who are at risk and vulnerable and include isolated people with mental health or drug problems, current and ex offenders, former rough sleepers now in their own homes and people who are begging or street drinking. This is a vital service across the country and here in Milton Keynes. St Mungo’s have various locations across MK and the small team from HRG dedicated their volunteering day at one location tidying up their garden and planting flowers.

Community Action: MK run a brokerage service between charities and community groups and local businesses who are looking for volunteering days across the city. Does your charity or community group need a hand with anything? Talk to us about how we can help. Contact ev@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

344 Volunteering Opportunities in MK!

Five brand new local organisations registered their volunteering opportunities with us during July. Check out all the opportunities we list on the Do-it website.

Re-thinking Parks & Volunteering

Burnley Borough Council has been awarded £98,615 from NESTA to develop and test the cost saving potential of a coordinated set of different techniques for park management that include woodchipping, starflower oil production and engaging volunteers to develop specialist skills. They will be testing out ‘self service volunteer management software’ to help volunteers engage with the programme. Definitely one to watch!

The Volunteering Round Up will be having a little break for the holidays but will be back on 21st August with the next update.

Blog Post Employee Volunteering News from and for the VCS Volunteering

Volunteering Round Up 17th July

Volunteering News

Have you seen our ‘Make it possible’ video about our Employee Volunteering programme? There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we screened it recently!

Eighteen members of staff from employee volunteering trailblazers Home Retail Group helped the Countryside and Rights of Way team improve the environment in Woughton on the Green this week. A fantastic day was had by all, getting huge jobs done that are made so much easier by many hands.

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At the same time there was an interesting debate at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civil Society and Volunteering on whether the sector is really benefiting from employee volunteers because it is believed that “80 per cent of the support that is pledged by firms never reach the third sector.” Read more about what this might be in the article on Civil Society. Community Action: MK is working hard to address these issues and making sure everyone benefits positively from it.

This week we said goodbye to Miriam McConachie who has been with Community Action: MK for 6 years and has most recently been the glue that holds our EV programme together. Mim leaves us to take up a post with PACT the national charity that supports offenders, ex-offenders, and their children and families where we know she will continue to do great things and we thank her for all her hard work and positivity whilst with us. Debbie Leask who has been working on the programme and leading our Volunteer Centre for many years will be replacing Mim.

If you’d like to find out more about our programme please contact ev@communityactionmk.org


We recently heard from one of the groups we work with that they are in the fortunate position of having too many volunteers and need to keep people on a waiting list. We are working with them to find short term alternative volunteering opportunities while they wait. If your organisation is in a similar position, please do talk to us about how we could help – email debbie@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.


Sometimes we get enquiries about people wanting to volunteer with their children. WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a great opportunity to explore this. Check out this article about a family’s week long experience on a Cornish farm.


Earlier this week we held our popular forum for Volunteer Managers which looked at best practice in retaining volunteers. We had some great feedback from participants. Karen Caldbeck from the Pre-School Learning Alliance said;

“It is always very helpful to hear other professionals views which may have an impact on your service.”

The next session, in November will cover topics like how best to communicate with volunteers, maximising social media in recruiting volunteers, influencing local policy and training. Make sure you’re signed up to our Learning & Events email bulletins to get notifications.


Stony Stratford Save Our Library campaign have urged library users not to volunteer as part of the Sharing Libraries consultation currently being carried out. They say they want professionally paid staff and are keen to get support for the campaign on social media. The BBC has recently covered the issue – “Local libraries are increasingly relying on volunteers to run them. But are “community libraries” a step forward or a regressive stopgap?”


Managing volunteers and creating volunteering programmes can sometimes seem like a huge task, breaking it down and doing ‘little and often’ towards the change you are trying to make, can help keep you on the right track. This bog post from Green Space Coaching has some great tips for how to do this. It also sits well with the idea that many hands make light work and little bits of volunteering add up to something bigger!


Imagine making someone feel like this…

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You could get that warm fuzzy glow by volunteering with our Community Car Service!

If you live in or around the following areas, Simpson, Ashland, Walton Park, Walnut Tree, Wavendon Gate, Woolstone, Woughton on the Green, Passmore, Springfield, Fishermead, and Oldbrook you could help transport elderly and disabled people to a range of medical appointments and social care activities. These are generally in Milton Keynes and local area, but can occasionally be to Aylesbury, and Oxford.

For more information please get in touch with either Tracy Whitmore or Laura Jeffery on 01908 661623 or email vdsmk@communityactionmk.org

Blog Post Employee Volunteering News from and for the VCS Volunteering

Volunteering Round Up 3rd July

Volunteering in the news

“Volunteers are fantastic – but it’s wrong for Martyn Lewis to suggest they are always the cheaper choice. Awarding public sector contracts to volunteering groups is all well and good, but it needs to be properly thought through – and costed.”

Great article from Oonagh Aitken, Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters.

Government proposals for employees to receive three days of volunteering leave are to go ahead, the Minister for Civil Society confirmed in a recent speech.

Community Action: MK Volunteer Managers Forum – July 8th

Our next FREE Volunteer Managers Forum event is fully booked but we do have a waiting list if you would like to sign up and be the first to hear if a ticket becomes available. To keep up to date with our next forum, sign up to our Learning & Events newsletter here.

NEW Factsheets from Community Action: MK

Digital Volunteering: How to attract time poor, skilled and motivated volunteers by changing the way you create opportunities. Read some interesting case studies from The Woodland Trust, MK Smart and our Employee Volunteering programme here.

Best practice in recruiting and retaining volunteers, with some excellent local case studies.

Latest news from Community Action: MK’s Employee Volunteering programme:

Small team make a big impact at St Mungo’s.

Home Retail Group bridge the gap at Stowe Gardens.

Best practice: useful links & resources

Some really fantastic resources from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

A Charter for Strengthening Relations between paid staff and Volunteers (2011) – WCVA produced jointly with Wales TUC a Charter to strengthen relationships between paid and unpaid staff. This sets out principles for involving volunteers so as to promote a healthy and harmonious workplace.

Best practice guide on establishing joint working arrangements with third parties for involving volunteers:

Guidance from Barnardo’s as a tool for organisations who place volunteers in settings where Third Parties have responsibility for their day to day activity. It is a way of ensuring good practice in the management of volunteers, and is closely based on the Investing in Volunteers Standard.

Have you explored the LinkedIn Volunteer marketplace to recruit volunteers?

VolunteerMatch, part of LinkedIn’s LinkedIn4Good programme, is designed to help charities with two volunteering challenges:

– Finding volunteers with particular professional skills

– Finding volunteers who want to serve as a board member or trustee.

Charities can encourage their LinkedIn users to volunteer their skills and experience by completing the volunteer section of their LinkedIn profile.

Charities can post volunteer opportunities on LinkedIn for Nonprofits. There is a modest fee – 10% of the standard cost to post a job on LinkedIn – which LinkedIn explained was to ensure the facility was not misused. LinkedIn says it will reinvest this income in the service.

Charities can post at no charge if they post their advert via the two lead partners REACH Volunteering and Do-it.org. Adverts posted there will also access LinkedIn members.

Talk to us at Community Action: MK about listing your volunteer opportunities on Do-it.org.

Email volunteering@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Charities & Community Groups Employee Volunteering News from and for the VCS Volunteering

Employee Volunteering: Small team makes a big impact at St Mungos!

Home Retail Group supported to access volunteering thanks to Community Action: MK

Volunteering and making a difference isn’t always about a big team making a big statement – just ask Abbegail Sawney and her team of 2! Originally the team were about 8-10 people in size but due to sickness and other commitments on the day the team shrunk. However, the group of 3 from Home Retail Group made a big impact on one of the gardens that St Mungos own. St Mungos support young people and provide a safe place to live for a period of time. They support people who are at risk and vulnerable and include isolated people with mental health or drug problems, current and ex offenders, former rough sleepers now in their own homes and people who are begging or street drinking. This is a vital service across the country and here in MK. St Mungos have various locations across MK and the small team from HRG dedicated their volunteering day at one location tidying up their garden and planting flowers.

Community Action: MK run a brokerage service between charities/local groups and cooperates who are looking for volunteering days across the city. We were able to support the group to find a great volunteering opportunity.

“This was the first time we were able to volunteer as a team at a local community organisation. We wanted to support a smaller charity as smaller groups are often over-looked. We had a site visit before hand and we really welcomed by the staff. None of our team lives in MK but we wanted to give something back to the community that we work in. We are all amateur gardeners but we have made a real impact today on the garden and it’s fantastic to see all the hard work we have put in has paid off!” – Abbegail, Home Retail Group

st mungos june hrg2

“It’s so important that we can provide a quiet, calm and inviting outdoor space for those who live here. The team have been great, they have worked really hard to transform the space and I know how grateful everyone will be. We need to organise a summer BBQ now, as the space is more accessible and I am sure it will be used a lot this summer!” – Eli, St Mungos

Volunteering provides an opportunity to give back and make a difference whether you are just one person or a team of 100 you can help make an impact in people’s lives.

st mungos june hrg group (1)

If you are a business, charity or community group in Milton Keynes and would like to know more information about the programme please contact us at ev@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Employee Volunteering Projects

Employee Volunteering: CA:MK ‘bridge the gap’ in providing Volunteering for Home Retail Group Staff!

With over 20 years experience working with the charities and voluntary groups, we are the leading organisation on community involvement in Milton Keynes.

Community is the foundation of a good and healthy society. It is not simply a group of random individuals who share close proximity. It is a powerful force that can bring unity, purpose and action as well as security and contentment.

“Volunteers are not worthless they are priceless.”

Community Action MK acts as a brokerage service with corporates, charities and volunteer groups. An example of this is working with Home Retail Group. We provide volunteering opportunities for their staff. We were able to link a team with Stowe National Trust and in May 13 employees  spent the day at Stowe painting a bridge and were able to make the bridge look its best.

“The wooden bridge had not been painted for 5 years, it’s a really significant landmark, as it can been seen from many points in the gardens. Ideally it needs to be painted every year, so without the support of this team this probably would not have happened this year as we have many priorities to deal with at Stowe. The bridge now looks fantastic, which visitors will be able to enjoy. We would definitely like more volunteers in the future and have many restoration projects on the go and would love more teams to come out to help us” – Patrick Green from Stowe

“Overall we had a fantastic day as a team. It was a great opportunity to give something back as well as an opportunity to bond together as a team. I would recommend others coming here for a team building day” – Pete Wilks, Team Leader from Home Retail Group

If you are a business, charity or community group in Milton Keynes and would like to know more information about the programme please contact us at ev@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Employee Volunteering News from and for the VCS Projects

Stately Home Retail Group Helps Stowe for the Day

On 20th May a volunteer army of 13 employees from Home Retail Group spent the day at Stowe painting a bridge. As a team they were able to make the bridge look its best.

Patrick Green from Stowe commented

‘The wooden bridge had not been painted for 5 years, it’s a really significant landmark, as it can been seen from many points in the gardens. Ideally it needs to be painted every year, so without the support of this team this probably would not have happened this year as we have many priorities to deal with at Stowe. The bridge now looks fantastic, which visitors will be able to enjoy. We would definitely like more volunteers in the future and have many restoration projects on the go and would love more teams to come out to help us’.

Pete Wilks, Team Leader said

‘Overall we had a fantastic day as a team. It was a great opportunity to give something back as well as an opportunity to bond together as a team. I would recommend others coming here for a team building day’

Another employee volunteer said

‘We had a great day and the staff at Stowe have been really helpful and friendly, which adds to the enjoyment of the day. Having the chance to paint the bridge showed off different people’s ability with a paint brush. Everyone got stuck in and worked hard!’

This is one example of the incredible difference that businesses can make when they work together with communities.

If you know of a group that could benefit from a range of skills and support from volunteers please get in touch with Community Action: MK.

Communities Employee Volunteering Volunteering

Wolverton Secret Garden Benefits from Home Retail Group Help

Thursday 21st May saw Angela Roberts, and her enthusiastic team from Store Operations, Home Retail Group complete a community project – they rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in clearing ivy from the pathways, weeding, pruning and making bonfires at the Wolverton Secret Garden!

The difference they made was huge and it was very much appreciated by the Secret Garden.

Roger Kitchen, one of a small group of ageing volunteers maintaining the Secret Garden said

‘The group have made such a difference, there is a huge visible impact. They shared some great ideas about creating a seating area so hopefully people will come and enjoy the space. The sun is shining and the place is transformed’

Angela Roberts, Team Leader said

“As a team we wanted to make a difference and have something tangible where we could see at the end of the day the difference we had made. As a team very few of us live in Milton Keynes and this is the first opportunity we have had to spend time getting to know each other outside of the office, it is a real team bonding event’

Angela also explained her family connection with Wolverton as both her Father and Grandfather had links to Wolverton Works so it felt important to give something back where she had family involvement.

Another team member said

‘We definitely have blisters and scratches from today but it’s been worth it! At one point we got a fire going to burn all the ivy that we had cut down and the men in particular enjoyed their cave man like moment’!

This is one example of the incredible difference that businesses can make when they work together with communities. If you are a business and want to know more or if you know of a group that could benefit from a range of skills and support from volunteers please get in touch with Community Action: MK.

Blog Post Communities Employee Volunteering Volunteering