Fahim Ahmed

Football Coach, Burdett FC

Volunteering has helped me develop my skills such as greater awareness of health and safety on and off the pitch. I’ve become more conscious of my health, especially eating healthily.

I have developed my organisational skills, by ensuring all teams arrive promptly for their fixtures and being responsible for getting the equipment ready before the games. I was able to interact with all ages and not just my own age group, another useful skill.

Overall, I feel more confident thanks to taking part in the league; it’s developed my leadership, team work, participation and public speaking skills and helped prepare me for interviews and assessments in the future. 



Tom Cowling

Youth Support - Football Coach, Spotlight

I’ve done football coaching before, but was looking for a new challenge. Youth work was a different experience for me – I got involved in everything from football to basketball and from fashion to working in the games room. It was great to be able to work across the different community centres too.

I as genuinely shocked by how friendly and welcoming everyone was when I started. It’s a boost to my motivation.
Thanks to volunteering, I feel more confident when taking on new challenges and it’s given me good experience to take in to my work as a coach.





Alexis Smith

Youth Support Placement Student, Spotlight

I joined Spotlight because I love working with young people and was inspired by their mission and incredible facilities. The work they do is phenomenal and the volunteering programme is organised and professional. It was a great way to learn more about how a non-profit runs while getting one on one mentor experience. 

One of the most memorable moments was when I was helping a group of young girls work on an art project. They were asked to create a project based on someone who inspired them. A young girl asked me if she could do hers about me because nobody else had inspired her before. Never doubt your impact! 

I would tell future volunteers to really soak up every moment, big or small. Don't worry about your impact right away because as anything worthwhile, it takes time. Just invest your heart and energy and great things will happen! 



Gemma Hogger

Community Project Support Volunteer & Play Worker - Art & Technology After School Club, Aberfeldy

My daughter suffers with anxiety, so it’s important for her to mix socially with both adults and children to help her manage her condition. By volunteering on the project I can be on-hand but in the background, which puts her at ease and allows her to develop relationships outside of the family.

Personally, it’s helped me develop new skills, meet new people and most importantly, I enjoy it!
Seeing my daughter develop and make progress with her anxiety has been really reassuring. I’ve learnt there are opportunities outside a school environment where I can work with young people and involve my daughter too.

I plan to continue volunteering to get more skills experience and help me with future job prospects.





Raquel Pereira

Receptionist, St. Paul's Way Centre

I wanted to contribute to the SPW Centre, since I was already a regular user of the coffee shop and think it’s great for the residents of the area to have local access to training and other services.

It’s great to volunteer here because the atmosphere is supportive and friendly.

My advice to future volunteers is to be flexible. A lot of different situations come up, sometimes you have to learn as you go along, but in the end it will certainly be an enriching experience!





Sharon Joyce

Family Science Experiment - After School Club, St. Paul's Way Centre

I am a full time carer for my Granddaughter who is seven years old and I struggled to find fun activities for her to attend after school.

I was approached by one of the Poplar HARCA staff about applying for funding from the Big Local project, which is to spend £1M over the Aberfeldy estate in ten years. I had an idea for a science experiment club to run in the centre, so I filled out the application form and was granted the funding...whoopee!

Once we got the funding I got planning with a member of staff from the Aberfeldy Centre.
Volunteering taught me new skills, especially working with groups of children and how to run a project. It was good to take on the responsibility; I learnt how much work goes on behind the scenes to get these projects going.

For me, the best part was seeing the kids having so much fun and enjoying the 10 week programme that I had helped create.


Monzo Ara Khaton

Project Volunteer - Various, Aberfeldy, Brownfield Cabin & Trussler Hall

Monzo Ara Khaton moved to London nine years ago from Bangladesh, where she runs her own tailoring company and has a Masters in Politics and Governance.

I have been volunteering for Poplar HARCA since 2013, on multiple projects at the Aberfeldy Centre, Brownfield Cabin and Trussler Hall. I am involved with loads of activities locally, including the Women’s only cycling club, leading sewing workshops, assisting Bangladeshi women ages 35-65 years old with their English, and helping with the Swishing clothes swap. The most memorable experience is when I was told I could go to visit the British Parliament for a volunteer trip- I really felt lucky to experience that.

I particularly like doing projects that are for women only.  I love that I can contribute to other people’s self-development and give them support. It makes me happy!


Adriana Manzo-Andrade

Project Volunteer - Various, Brownfield Cabin

I have been volunteering at the Brownfield Cabin since September 2014. I started off at the Knit & Knatter group and have grown from there. I assist in planning activities, teaching and running the workshops and lend a hand at events too.

I love how personal and intimate it is at the Brownfield Cabin, and the friendships you make there. It definitely has a different feel than the bigger centres, and I have grown attached to every member and the management team - it helps that Jayne is such a supportive manager!

Most memorable for me was befriending an elderly lady who came across as a very hostile and unapproachable individual at some of the sessions - but one day she gave me a hug! To me, it felt like we finally broke that barrier and bonded.

I’d encourage everyone to give a bit of their time to the community. You get a lot out of volunteering and form so many great relationships.

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