Volunteering locally this festive season by Steve Kelly
21st November 2014
21st November 2014
When people talk about where to live the phrase location, location, location is commonly used. The one thing I truly like about the location I live (Southgate and Palmers Green) is the sense of community with so many people willing to give up their time and energy to make this a great area for people to enjoy their lives.
For example my youngest child attends a playgroup twice a week that is run solely by volunteers with all the profits going to support local charities. His older brother goes to Hazelwood School, which is amazingly supported by parents of the school who run fundraising events, activity clubs, escort the children on trips and keep the gardens maintained. Our area is spoilt for choice by the parks and we spend a lot of time on facilities supported by volunteers in Friends’ Groups at Arnos, Hazelwood, Grovelands and Broomfield parks.
However, I have also benefited from more profound activities in our area. My daughter was born with a life threatening medical condition that meant we became her carers 24 hours a day. We were and still are, after her death, supported by our local children’s hospice Noah’s Ark. They run a volunteer network that supports families on days out and more importantly for us they came into our home on a regular basis and provided assistance with keeping my son busy so I could focus more on my daughter’s health needs at more difficult times. The volunteers were all local people who felt they had an hour a week or more to offer from their lives that could significantly add more to someone else’s life. We are always indebted to these volunteers and champion their participation.
As a result I have felt more open to volunteering myself and one day my neighbour let me know of a voluntary organisation he helps run that tries to support the elderly in the community called Operation Fish. Recently I was asked by them if I had an hour or two a week I could spare to take a chair bound person for a walk as they have been housebound for a year with illness and a lack of support in order to have someone push them in their chair. I firstly checked I could commit to the time and when I found I could I took the opportunity and have sincerely enjoyed being able to help in the small way that I can because, as someone who enjoys being out and about, I can only hope someday someone would return the act for me.
As Christmas and the end of the year approaches we all in different ways take time to reflect on ourselves and those around us. And so I asked Anthony Webb who themselves are a key supporter of community activities in our area if I could write an article on what volunteering opportunities are available to you in your local area particularly at this time of year.
• St Monica’s Church, Palmers Green N13 are facilitating a homeless shelter in partnership with a local charity called All People All Places 020 8001 9207 www.allpeopleallplaces.org
• North Enfield Foodbank need donations, stock sorted and distributed 020 8804 0990 www.northenfield.foodbank.org.uk
• Ruth Winston Centre, Palmers Green, a community space for the over 50’s need to cover eg. office duties, DIY, gardening, cooking 020 8886 5346 www.ruthwinstoncentre.com
• Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice need help on fair stalls, Asda bag packing, collecting at carol services. 020 8449 8877 www.noahsarkhospice.org.uk
• Operation Fish support the elderly in our area with the provision of for example lifts to the doctor, the shop or befriending 020 8881 1831
• Casserole Club shares extra portions of home cooked food with others in your area who are not able to cook for themselves www.casseroleclub.com
If these opportunities are not the ones you are after or it’s not the right time please visit www.do-it.org.uk where you can search for volunteering opportunities by your interest or area. If you have a child at school, helping out in the PTA can also be a great way to start.
Good luck it’s a rewarding experience for all involved
As featured in our December 2014 Palmers Green & Southgate LIFE magazine