The Orpington based Maypole Project has been helping children with complex medical needs and their families for the past twenty years. The charity provides a range of therapies and emotional support all aimed at promoting well-being, combatting isolation and offering some much-needed fun and respite for families when they need it most.

Image of Volunteer Administrator, Laura Nicholls, at information stall for The Maypole ProjectVolunteer Administrator, Laura Nicholls told us more:

“The support we offer is hugely varied, from offering therapies such as one to one counselling, couples counselling and play therapy, as well as running two weekly activity clubs and outings for the children and siblings during the school holidays.”

The delivery of these services and the successful running of the organisation wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of its team of volunteers, as Laura explained:

“We simply could not run our services without our wonderful volunteers! We are a staff team of about ten, with eighty volunteers helping us in all aspects of the charity, whether thats within therapies support, being part of the activities clubs, or joining in with fundraising and events to raise money and awareness throughout the year.”

The charity is always looking for new volunteer recruits and there are a range of opportunities on offer, as Laura told us:

“Within our therapy team: we are looking for child therapists, adult therapists, play therapists, couples therapists and clinical supervisors too.

Within activities: we are always looking for energetic and motivated individuals to help us to keep our Wednesday Active club and Thursday Youth club running throughout the school terms. We also run many activities and outings during the holidays, and need some amazing mini bus drivers to get us from A to B in our mini bus, as well as giving a helping hand during the outing too.

Within fundraising: we look for chatty and enthusiastic people to help with a variety of tasks throughout the year – this could be bucket collections, manning a stall, telling members of the community about who we are and what we do, marshaling a running event or being part of the Team Maypole cheer squad for some big active challenges like the London Marathon! Its hugely varied but also very flexible too.”

As for the skills needed to volunteer, Laura had this to say:

We look for anyone who is friendly and enthusiastic! We provide support and training for specific roles working with children or the families and we are always keen to find the right role for each person. The therapies roles are the only roles that have a requirement: to be in training or trained as a qualified therapist.”

As well as being a great way to do something worthwhile in the community, volunteering can also be helpful for enhancing one’s CV and career prospects, as Laura explained:

Volunteering can provide huge benefits that can help with future career prospects. Being part of a team can help with confidence, communication, teamwork, patience and organisation skills. Showing your dedication and commitment to a good cause is always a brilliant addition to your CV and makes a great talking point in interviews too. We also think it is huge fun and a great way to meet new people.

Image with quote from The Maypole Project Volunteer Fundraising Assistant, Andy Cook. Words of quote: "Being part of a friemdly staff and volunteer team, raising funds for such a worthwile cause that makes such a difference to children and their families when they need it the most"

Andy Cook told us about his experience volunteering for the charity:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the five months that I volunteered as a Fundraising Assistant, working once to twice a week in the Orpington office. My activities included helping with events, general fundraising administration, organising talks and contacting businesses for donations.”

Andy told us what he enjoyed most about volunteering at The Maypole Project?:

“Being part of a friendly staff and volunteer team, raising funds for such a worthwhile cause makes such a difference to children and their families when they need it the most. Also, learning new skills and having fun in the process! I also ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon on behalf of The Maypole Project and was given great support by the charity.”   

As for advice to the would-be volunteer, Andy had this to say:

“It is a very fulfilling, humbling experience that will not only develop your personal skills and experience but also support the work of the charity in reaching out to as many families as they can.”

And, how would he describe his volunteering experience in three words?

“Fulfilling, inspiring and fun.”

16:46, 05 Jul 2023 by Kathryn Mitchell

As part of annual Stroke Awareness month, we focus on an outstanding local charity with a mission to improve the lives of adults who have experienced a stroke, and their families, across the borough, and the crucial role played by its volunteers.

Strokes can lead to long term health problems and require lengthy periods of rehabilitation and support for those affected. And, for the past thirty years, the iCARE Day Centre in Orpington has been responding to this need.

Able to accommodate twenty people a day, four days a week; the centre provides a welcoming and supportive environment where stroke survivors can socialise, build friendships and regain their independence, whilst also offering family carers a chance for respite. A range of tailored activities and therapies are also offered; all aimed at helping improve client’s mobility, communication skills and well-being. These include physiotherapy as well as speech and cognitive therapies.

Tracey Parry, iCARE Centre Manager explained how the centre is able to help those affected:

“People who have experienced a stroke can become isolated, so the social interaction within the group each day is an important component of rehabilitation. Clients are able to share experiences and find mutual support and friendship. Strokes affect everyone differently, we therefore offer a client centred approach, identifying the needs of each individual.”  

As with many charities, volunteers play a key role in the successful running of the centre, as Tracey told us:

“Volunteers are very important to iCARE. Volunteers support clients on a one to one basis and in small groups throughout the week. Volunteers bring new experiences, interests and hobbies to share with the clients.”

The charity is always keen to welcome new volunteer recruits and as Tracey explained, there are variety of opportunities on offer, giving volunteers the chance to do something worthwhile, whilst gaining experience as part of the team:

Volunteers can support clients within the centre, offering one to one time with individuals or in small groups.  Helping clients with many different activities, including word games, quizzes, arts and crafts, physical activities. Other volunteering opportunities include becoming a member of the fundraising committee, undertaking light behind the scenes administration tasks, or attending external awareness and fundraising events.” 

As for the skills needed to be an iCARE volunteer? Tracey had this to say: 

“No skills required. Friendly, kind, a good listener and willing to be challenged at scrabble!” 

Image of iCARE Day Centre volunteer, Jane Raynes, in front of iCARE day centre building. Quote on image, with words "Step outside your comfort zone and give volunteering a go!"

Jane Raynes joined iCARE as a Day Centre Volunteer in 2007, following her retirement from teaching. Her role involves interacting with clients, helping with speech therapy and word activities as well as organising a weekly quiz. She also helps with catering duties such as serving lunch and refreshments to clients. She explained what she enjoys most about her role:

The friendly interaction of the clients with each other and the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and volunteers with clients and each other.

And to anyone thinking of getting involved as a volunteer? Jane has this message:

Step outside your comfort zone and give it a go!”

11:33, 23 May 2023 by Kathryn Mitchell

Healthwatch BromleyHealthwatch Bromley is a service run by the independent charitable organisation ‘Your Voice in Health & Social Care’ (YVHSC). With a mission to improve the quality and provision of health and social care within the borough and beyond; care service user’s feedback is gathered and presented to leading decision makers such as the NHS, to help action change. And, as Head of Volunteering, Gloria Arhin explained, volunteers are key to the organisation’s success:

“Volunteers play a crucial role in helping to ensure that Healthwatch Bromley and all services under YVHSC can raise the profile of issues that matter when it comes to improving health and social care services. Our range of volunteer roles enable volunteers to build relationships within the community thus helping the organisation to successfully engage and work with diverse communities to obtain feedback on health and social services.”

Healthwatch Bromley is always keen to hear from would-be volunteers with diverse skill sets. Community engagement is a prominent part of the service’s work and as such, volunteers with great communication skills are needed for the vital roles of gathering feedback from patients within GP surgeries and hospitals in the borough. The service also offers a variety of opportunities within marketing, communications, and web support; giving volunteers the chance to develop new skills and experience as part of the team.

As well as being of great benefit to an organisation and wider community, volunteering can also help one's career prospects as Gloria told us:

“Our volunteer opportunities can provide skills development, opportunity for social inclusion and potential routes to employment. A number of current staff members within YVHSC initially joined the organisation as volunteers and are now working within the organisation.” 

 Image of Healthwatch Bromley Enter and View volunteer, Mary Oparacha, beside quote. Words of quote: "I had experience working in the care sector before as a carer, and I saw how people were happy to talk to me. So now I want to carry on doing this."

Mary Oparacha has been volunteering for the organisation for eight months as an Enter and View Volunteer. Her role involves touring health providing services in the borough and reporting back to Healthwatch Bromley with her findings. She told us why she decided to get involved:

“I had experience working in the care sector before as a carer, and I saw how people were happy to talk to me. So now I want to carry on doing this.”

As Mary explained, volunteering can also be a productive way to spend her free time:

Anytime I am out of work, I always try to volunteer because it allows others to get to know me better, and I can add the experience on my CV to demonstrate that I was attempting to do something rather than being at home.”As for advice to the would-be volunteer, Mary had this to say: “Just do it, especially if you have no other things to do.”

Image of Healthwatch Bromley Enter and View volunteer, Gerda Loosemore-Reppen, beside quote. Words of quote: "Volunteering with Healthwatch Bromley has been a rewarding experience that I highly recommend to anyone looking to make a difference"

Gerda Loosemore-Reppen has been volunteering for the organisation for nearly ten years as an Enter and View and Community Engagement volunteer. She has been supporting the Healthwatch staff in different areas, including research projects with interviews and touring health provider facilities in the borough. She told us why she decided to get involved:

"I enjoy volunteering with Healthwatch Bromley,as it allows me to choose when to be involved and give my time to the community. Volunteering with Healthwatch Bromley has been a rewarding experience that I highly recommend to anyone looking to make a difference."

16:35, 09 May 2023 by Kathryn Mitchell


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