Community through Volunteering: Waltham Forest

I’m happy to be heading to Community Waltham Forest’s Spring into Volunteering event on 22nd March.  community waltham forest

I’ll be talking through some online training ideas, signposting to resources and hopefully meeting other people (like you?!) who coordinate community action in my area.

Are you involving people in Waltham Forest?  Come along and share what you’re up to.  This borough has SO MUCH going on, and I’m looking forward to seeing some joining up of dots. s and S poster.jpg Community Waltham Forest’s website has a space to add your own events – I’ll be throwing our Stories and Supper event on there today!  You can also add your own volunteering opportunity.

Come and say hi, tell me what you’re up to and I’ll let you know about the opportunities going on at The Hornbeam, the exciting campaigns to keep our community spaces (like Higham Hill’s Library campaign) and the heart-warming Stories and Supper project happening on April 1st.  See you there!

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Spare Time or Spare Rooms

A sprawling monologue in which lots of us do a little bit.

Yesterday I was really anxious and preocupied with work.  I do insist on having ideas (this time it’s interactive online training) and I find following them through quite anxiety-inducing.

Starters-and-Info-768x768Then I got to the Stories and Supper project, where we are planning a supper club that challenges some media narratives on refugees and also supports the refugees themselves. A young guy was there – he’d been there in week 1 and i wasn’t sure we’d see him back. He has just got his refugee status in the UK – and a month later, is now out of his ‘asylum seeker’ accomodation and homeless. In the UK, you get one month after being allowed to stay – to find a job, access English lessons, find the deposit for a room, and find a room.

It put my anxiety in perspective.

Anyhoo. I said “let’s refer you to Refugees at Home.”

I happen to know they rock because we have hosted. R@HLogoSMI got random bits of information out of him and told them on their nifty online form (developed by a volunteer, as was everything) the little I knew about him (“His favourite food is a tomato salad with lemon juice and garlic” – it is a food project we’re doing so that was pretty much all I know! That – and he smiles alot).

I said “I hope… I try…” we smiled… and we left it at that.

This afternoon I got an email. Turns out two other people have also referred him. So it didn’t matter too much that my details were patchy.  Perhaps it was just enough.

And there’s a guy in London who can host him for a few nights. They’re working on a longer plan. And they bothered to tell me too.

MalikcropSo across London, people are doing these little bits. And they’re adding up to something. I’m so glad.

If you can host, just for a few nights, please consider it. It will have a long term affect.  I came across a pretty beautiful story of hosting today too- in Germany.  And the guy who stayed with us has a room now.  This is us on his last day. CHEESY PIC!

Feb 2018Rebecca (2)

If you’d like some resources make your Volunteer Coordinator life easier, if you work in Volunteer Management or involve people as a volunteer (like every single one of the lovely people at Refugees at Home) you might be interested in this training with free Q+S.  Access from anywhere.  See you there!

Who Can Volunteer?

UPDATE:  This course is now included in the LIVE ONLINE training: “Who Can Volunteer: Age, Immigration and Welfare Conundrums”

If you’ve joined me for training around Volunteers and the Law in the last couple of years, you’ll possibly remember a discussion around where exactly Asylum Seekers are allowed to volunteer.  whocanvolunteerYou may remember me explaining the odd nature of the law – only in a charity, nothing public sector, no NHS.  “But what about a children’s centre?” Some people asked. Or… “We’re a social enterprise?” And then my guarded response… weigh up the facts, and the risks for your organisation, and maybe think about disregarding these guidelines.  Or at the very least signpost your volunteer somewhere else.

Well now you don’t have to pick your way through these decisions.  refugee actionAfter a huge amount of effort and public support – ‘ongoing badgering’ as Fiona Liddell puts it! by Refugee Action and others,  Asylum Seekers now have the right to volunteer in any organisation.  You can also volunteer if you have had your asylum claim refused. This is great news and evidence that campaigning works.  punishing povertyMaybe we could move our thoughts now to benefit sanctions and mandatory work activity – undermining the nature and the positive effects of volunteering and creating sick individuals and communities.

I’ve updated my slides, and share Here…  this example includes some other info too about creating contracts and the common law duty of care.

Please get in touch if you’d like more info or would like to collaborate on campaigns around the blurring of the edges of volunteering.