Volunteer Information

On your first day you may feel nervous and have lots of questions but try not to worry, we will be there to support you and make sure it all goes smoothly.

There is always a lot of information to take in on your first day so here we have included information that you can read in your own time and refer back to whenever you need a refresher.

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Volunteer Expenses Form Download

Fahim Ahmed

Football Coach, Burdett FC

How has volunteering helped you?

The community league has benefited me greatly as it has helped me develop and gain new skills such as greater awareness of health and safety on and off the pitch. I have become very conscious of being healthy and eating healthy.

I have developed my organisation skills because I would be responsible for handling with the equipments before the games and I ensured all teams arrived promptly for their fixtures. Another benefit which I have picked up from the community league is that I was able to interact with all ages and not just my own age group, this skill is vital which I can transfer to a working environment.

Overall, I believe that I feel more confident thanks to this league as it has developed my leadership, team work, participation and public speaking skills which gives me the ability to be more proactive for interviews and assessments in order to be employed in a work place. 


Tom Cowling

Youth Support - Football Coach, Spotlight

What inspired you to volunteer?
I was inspired to volunteer because it was a new challenge that I have never experienced before. All I wanted to do was football coaching, youth work is a different experience for me and I wanted to take on this new challenge with both hands as it is an opportunity worth taking.

What is great about volunteering with Poplar HARCA?
The great thing about volunteering with Poplar HARCA is that it offers a whole different range of work from football to basketball and from fashion to working in the games room. They also offer different opportunities to work or to volunteer in another youth centre. Not many youth work organisations can offer these opportunities and for a young person like myself it’s a great development for new challenges in the future.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in anyway on a personal level/career level?
Volunteering has helped me on a personal level and on a career level as it has opened so many opportunities that I can take on in the future. On a personal level, I have gained more confidence and belief in myself as now I feel more confident when taking on new challenges and when a new opportunity arises I have self-belief that I can take it on and no matter what the outcome I feel that I can overcome it. On a career level, it has boosted me when I go into my coaching work as I have gained new experience and new ideas through volunteering that I never would have thought I would gain.

Can you tell me about a memorable moment that happened during your volunteering time?
A memorable moment during my volunteering time for me was my first day of volunteering. Everyone welcomed with me open arms and made me feel part of something special which shocked me completely but it encouraged me to keep volunteering and every time I walk into the work place everyone is friendly and welcoming so that motivates me when I’m working and taking part in the sessions, but I would never forget the first day of my volunteering experience.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future volunteers?
My advice for future volunteers is to always take volunteering into consideration as it leads to so many great opportunities along the way. It also an opportunity worth taking because even though you might not have experienced volunteering before it is a great experience for now and for the future.


Alexis Smith

Youth Support Placement Student, Spotlight

What inspired you to volunteer? 
One of my greatest passions is helping young people and I was inspired by Spotlight's mission from the beginning. The work they do there is phenomenal and I truly believed in the impact such a facility could have. It was a great way to learn more about how the nonprofit runs while getting that one on one mentor experience. 

What is great about volunteering with Poplar HARCA?
Poplar HARCA runs a great volunteer program that I would recommend to anyone wanting a welcoming and reliable place to volunteer. It is organized, professional, and they help you in any way they can. 

Do you think volunteering has helped you in any way on a personal level/career level? 
I truly believe volunteering at Spotlight affected me on a personal level. It granted me a perspective that could not have been gained elsewhere. It also gave me insight to new career ideas and ignited within me an even greater passion for young people. 

Can you tell me about a memorable moment that happened during your volunteering time?
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! 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future volunteers?
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

What inspired you to volunteer? 
My daughter suffers with anxiety, and it is very important for her to mix socially with both adults and children to help her manage this condition. By volunteering on the project I can be in the back ground which provides her with some security and allows her to develop relationships outside of the family. It also helps me develop new skills and helps the staff and other children taking part as well.

What is great about volunteering with Poplar HARCA?
Having the opportunity to get involved in the local community, meeting new people, gain new skills and I enjoy it,  especially working with kids.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in any way on a personal level/career level? 
On a personal level it has given me confidence by seeing my daughter develop and make progress with her anxiety condition, by seeing her interact more with others which is very reassuring for me. The opportunity has shown me another way to get into working with children and young people that is not specifically in a school environment which I need so as to allow me to involve my daughter. I plan to continue volunteering to get more skills experience and help me with future job prospects.

Can you tell me about a memorable moment that happened during your volunteering time?
I really enjoyed modelling for the live drawing activity in the session.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future volunteers?
Just go for it, it helps you develop skills and gain valuable experience and improve your confidence. Don’t let your fears get in the way!


Raquel Pereira

Receptionist, St. Paul's Way Centre

What inspired you to volunteer?
I wanted to contribute to the SPW Centre, since I was already a regular user of the coffee shop and think it’s a wonderful initiative for the residents of the area to have access to training etc

What is great about volunteering with Poplar HARCA?
It is, in my case, a simple way to help out and give something back to the community. It’s also great to volunteer here because the atmosphere is quite supportive and friendly.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in any way on a personal level/career level? 
Too soon to tell as I have just started volunteering.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future volunteers?
Just be flexible. A lot of different situations come up, so you’ll just 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

What inspired you to volunteer? 
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 community staff from the Aberfeldy centre.

What is great about volunteering with Poplar HARCA?
I gained a lot of new skills, especially with working with children and how to run a project. Having responsibilities like doing the register, asking questions about allergies, preparation for the activity for the day, shopping for materials ect. I did not realise how much work you have to do behind the scenes to get these projects and activities going.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in any way on a personal level/career level? 
I became very ill two weeks before the project started with heart problems that did restrict me from many opportunities that I could have taken further. I most defiantly did learn some great new skills that could help me gain a job if I was well enough.

Can you tell me about a memorable moment that happened during your volunteering time?
Seeing the kids have so much fun and enjoying the 10 week programme. The most memorable day for me was when we made slim YUK.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future volunteers?
Do volunteering! It is a great opportunity to learn new skills and develop working skills.


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, volunteering for a multiple projects within Aberfeldy Centre, Brownfield Cabin and Trussler Hall. I am involved with many activities in the local area, such as 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.

I particularly like doing projects that are for women only. It makes me feel very happy that I have the power to enable someone and give that support. I love that I can contribute to individual’s self-development, just by being compassionate and charitable.

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.

My advice to future volunteers is to remind them that money is not important, money is not everything. People are important, and we all have a social responsibility. I believe if there are opportunities given to you, you should always fight for something that is close to your heart.


Adriana Manzo-Andrade

Project Volunteer - Various, Brownfield Cabin

I have been volunteering for Brownfield Cabin, since September 2014. As arts and crafts is a hobby of mine, I started off at the Knitter Knatter group at the Brownfield Cabin and have grown from there.

I assist in planning activities, teaching and running the workshops. I also give a hand in various activities such as Swishing events or helping out at the other centres.

I find that the Brownfield cabin is more personal and intimate, it is easier to make friendships over 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 I have such a supportive line manager such as Jayne!

One of my most memorable moments is how I managed to befriend one of the members who attend one of the workshops. She was an elderly lady who came across as a very hostile and unapproachable individual, but one day she gave me a hug. To me, it felt like we finally broke that barrier and bonded, and thus felt like I have been accepted by the group as a result of that action.

I’d encourage everyone to give a bit of their time to the community. Mainly because I believe that you get a lot out of volunteering and you will build so many relationships with people, particularly those who are in the same community as you are!

Our monthly volunteer newsletter is full of fantastic opportunities from around East London. Browse our archive below and subscribe here.

12/21/2016 - Spotlight 2016 Highlights 

11/25/2016 - Sense Volunteering

11/18/2016 - HARCA Helpers: Nov 2016

10/06/2016 - One-Off Volunteers Required for Tower Hamlets Council

09/26/2016 - One-Off Volunteers Required for Tower Hamlets Council

08/23/2016 - Event Volunteers Required for the Chrisp Street Festival

08/17/2016 - HARCA Helpers: August 2016

07/07/2016 - Summer Stars Required

07/01/2016 - HARCA Helpers: July 2016

06/07/2016 - HARCA Helpers: June 2016

05/11/2016 - HARCA Helpers: May 2016

04/06/2016 - HARCA Helpers: April 2015

03/01/2016 - HARCA Helpers: March 2016

02/02/2016 - HARCA Helpers: February 2016 

01/04/2016 - HARCA Helpers: January 2016 

12/07/2015 - HARCA Helpers:December 2015

11/04/2015 - HARCA Helpers: November 2015

10/01/2015 - HARCA Helpers: October 2015

09/01/2015 - HARCA Helpers: September 2015

07/31/2015 - HARCA Helpers: A Volunteer Newsletter

Why complete the form?
We work hard to ensure that people are not discriminated against and this form helps us to ensure we are providing opportunities that reflect our community. The information you give us helps us to make adjustments to our recruitment procedure based on fact, rather than assumption. This information is confidential and will be stored separately from your individual volunteer files. Please note that you are under no obligation to complete this form.
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Useful downloads


Terri Calbraith

Volunteering Coordinator

020 7536 8865


Thom Palser

Youth Volunteering Coordinator

020 7536 8862

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