25 November 2016, by Zoe Cunningham
Inspired by my first day volunteering with Barnardo’s in Marylebone, I decided to use my second volunteering day to pursue something else that I have been keen to do for a while – spending more time with older people. Now that I’m in my thirties I’m starting to realise what a different perspective can be gained with age and so I’m very keen to hear from people who have maybe four times as much experience as I do!
Once again I used the fabulous employee volunteering platform Benefacto. It was easy to find something that matched my desired area, and one click and I was booked to help run The Lunch Club with Finsbury & Clerkenwell Volunteers. FCV have been organising volunteers to help others in need since 1971 and one of their current responsibilities is to run a lunch club for local elderly residents every Monday and Thursday.
Like at Barnardo’s, a lot of the jobs that need doing are quite simple and just need manpower. So my first job was to lay the tables ready for people to arrive.
Second, myself and a fellow volunteer from Accenture were given the task of peeling a mountain of potatoes for the Shepherd’s Pie, followed by a large basket of cooking apples brought in by a volunteer. Luckily two regular volunteers were able to chef these into the main course and an apple strudel for dessert.
At about 12pm guests started to arrive for lunch. Some are able to make their own way in, but most are brought in a minibus driven by another volunteer. We helped them in and to their seats, gave them a cup of tea or coffee and then served lunch.
The number of volunteers helping out through FCV is absolutely incredible. There is Andy, who seems to be the main person behind the day to day running of the lunch club. There are two chefs (there used to be three) and a driver. There is Jan, who helps with everything and Irenie, who runs the raffle. Then there is the board. This includes Felicity who started lunch club tens of years ago, Andrew the chair and Leslie the treasurer; all three dropped in to see how lunch was going on the day I was there. Judy, an ex-employee of the charity, dropped in (she brought the apples we peeled). While we were peeling, she explained how well the charity worked, not just for the clients, but also for the volunteers.
After lunch, Andy ran several games of bingo and I learnt some new bingo calls. Then the guests were driven home and we cleared up and washed up. There was a lot of washing up! Overall it was a great day and a fantastic experience to be part of this community of people doing good, even just for a day.
29 August 2016, by Zoe Cunningham
For my volunteering day I worked at Barnardo’s in Marylebone, organised through Benefacto. Barnardo’s is a major UK children’s charity and does a great job with lots of different aspects of supporting children: fostering and adoption, work skills, domestic child abuse, nurseries and supporting families.
Working in the shop was awesome on many levels. They have great donations because it’s such a wealthy area, so it’s quite fun seeing what stock they have. It was also really awesome for reminding me what a great job I have at Softwire… When I arrived I was told that my first job was hoovering and dusting (I HATE hoovering) and – even worse – I was told that mobile phones were not allowed on the shop floor and Eduardo the manager made me check my phone in a locker!
Another awesome thing about the job was the clientele. The first customer I served came in in a shell suit top and paint spattered jeans. He tried on a few shirts and bought one “oh and wait” he said, and returned with 8 pairs of socks.
1 August 2016, by Chris Harris
This summer Softwire launched an exciting new Employee Volunteering programme with the help of a great social enterprise called Benefacto.
At the heart of the programme is our offer to every employee of two free days this year that they can spend volunteering instead of working. I’m pleased to say that within the first two months of this scheme, 19 people (around 10% of the company) have taken us up on this offer, and have done some amazing things!