CharityJob’s Star Volunteers of 2019
For almost 20 years, CharityJob has helped hire the most generous and selfless volunteers in the UK third sector. Volunteers have always held a special place in our heart. They are the grassroots change-makers; the heart, soul and driving force of every charity. That’s why we host volunteer jobs free of charge on our website.
So why not take a moment to look back on the past year and congratulate the outstanding stars of 2019? The unsung heroes who stay late, go the extra mile and do the hard graft that no one else sees. Their only motivation is to change the world for the better.
Giving volunteers some love with #SeasonForChange
Last month in the UK, we had particularly dangerous temperatures for those sleeping rough. Around 135,000 children were homeless on Christmas day, thousands of British families were dependent on foodbanks and almost half of those experiencing mental illnesses would have had suicidal thoughts during the stressful holiday season. In short, the winter season is a time to have all hands to be on deck and offer people support where they need it.
So, over Christmas, we asked people to exchange gluttony for giving, self-indulgence for selflessness and to work together to make December a Season For Change.
For some inspiration, we shared the stories of those who roll their sleeves up for causes they care deeply about: from reception work to trusteeships, sitting on the end of a telephone to mucking out at an animal farm. We also updated our Interactive Aid Map, where you can find a selection of homeless shelters, food banks and animal rescue centres across London.
But first, we thought you might like to hear the kind of thing our CharityJob team get up to in our spare time…
We’ve had a longstanding relationship with our local homeless shelter, Kingston Churches Action On Homelessness, where several of our staff help out every winter. This year, our content guru, Stephanie, and I tried our hand at the Winter Night Shelter and will be helping out until the end of January. Russell, our email wizard, started the Christmas period planting trees at Sutton Community Farm and CharityConnect’s Aggie did a few shifts at her regular haunt, Friend Animal Sanctuary. Trust us; we get to see all the cute animal photos. You can hear about our experiences here.
But now it’s time to meet the real stars of 2019. Are you ready to get inspired?
Star Homelessness Volunteer: Cliff, The Passage
Our Star Homelessness winner, Cliff, is a Kitchen Support Volunteer at The Passage who does everything and anything to help out, even if it isn’t ‘technically’ part of his job.
Cliff is one of the hardest working volunteers we have. He always goes above and beyond, whether it’s staying after his shift to help deep clean the kitchen or talking to rough sleepers who are feeling low. Recently, he has taken it upon himself to come in on Sundays to support one of our Romanian clients with learning English. If I’m having a stressful day and I bump into Cliff, he instantly lifts my spirits! Cliff has come into volunteer at short notice when other volunteers have not come in and always has such a humble attitude. He truly is one of the most modest and gracious people I have ever met in my life!
Star Animal Welfare Volunteer: Shaki, Cats Protection North Birmingham
Shaki blew our socks off with the sheer amount of work she does for Cats Protection, North Birmingham; both in and out of hours.
Shaki and the team go into some of the most deprived areas of Birmingham and offer support to people who, as well as having their own problems to deal with, may be feeding several stray cats. She often has to liaise with the council and other authorities to get help for the people she meets, going above and beyond simply helping the cats. Shaki is also a crucial member of the fostering team. She may be bottle feeding and toileting some kittens (every two hours, throughout the night), treating others for illnesses, making daily trips to the branch vet and much more. She’s often taking on the most difficult cats herself before they are ready to be passed on to less experienced fosterers or those that can’t offer this level of around-the-clock care. With all of this comes the emotional strain of acting as a surrogate mother to all of these cats and kittens, and the inevitable fact that some don’t make it. Her resilience in the face of all this heartbreak is remarkable! All this and she also works full time.
Star Mental Health Volunteer: David, Independent Advocacy
We felt inspired by David’s resilience and devotion to his mental health groups at Independent Advocacy.
David facilitates two mental health support groups. He has experienced mental ill-health most of his adult life, exacerbated by a brain injury following an accident, but is still determined to continue supporting others; it is his prime focus in life. Both groups now are thriving because of his enthusiasm and empathy for all members. David has secured ongoing funding for the group by approaching trusts and organising bingo nights, music therapy sessions. Quite simply, we are in awe of David and think he does outstanding and much-needed work in the community and deserves to be recognised for this.
We hope this warmed your heart as much as it did ours. Although Christmas might be over, the need for extra help at some incredible charities certainly isn’t.
Why not make a New Year’s resolution that would help improve the lives of others this year? You might be surprised at how it positively rubs off on you. With thousands of volunteering opportunities available in all shapes and sizes, you’re bound to find something that you would love.