Celebrating our amazing volunteers (Volunteers’ Week)

4th Jun 2020

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It’s National Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), which is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. This is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the work our amazing volunteers do for us at KLS.

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity. Without them we simply wouldn’t exist, and for that we say THANK YOU!

Volunteers helped found us 96 years ago, and we have relied on their enthusiasm, time and skills ever since. They are core to the delivery of our programmes and the governance of our organisation, extending the number of local people we can reach and enriching the quality of our services. They tell us that they find the work very rewarding, and get back as much as they give.

We currently have a team of 125 regular volunteers (and at least another 50-100 people who on occasion volunteer with us throughout the year).

You can even stick a price tag on our volunteers contribution. NCVO and the Office for National Statistics places a volunteering hour at a value at the UK median wage of £16 per hour. So KLS volunteers are contributing a whopping £313,125 each year (calculated on 125 volunteers donating on average 3 hours a week) – or adding an extra third to our annual budget!

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Regardless of the motivation, what unites them all is that they find it both challenging and rewarding.

KLS’ Volunteer Thank You event at Battersea Power Station (March 2019)

Here are some examples of our amazing volunteers:

Kate teaches in our ESOL classes  

“Kate has been a member of the KLS family for several years and is someone who the ESOL (English) department has come to rely on. She shows herself to be immensely adaptable and flexible and having the confidence to always seek a solution to a problem. She is also tirelessly helpful. Kate started with us as a member of a class volunteer team, who worked together to teach our learners with low literacy skills. For the past two years she has been volunteering in the highest level L1/L2 classroom.

During her time with us she has developed into an intuitive teacher precisely because she is always willing to learn. This has been invaluable in large classes with a diverse range of abilities. Lockdown hasn’t stopped her and like all of our teachers has adapted to online teaching alongside the class tutor.”

This paragraph is about Kate, whom we want to celebrate as one of our longest standing volunteers, but these words could also be attributed to all our volunteers, who constantly amaze us with their generosity, energy and grace. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.

Adar volunteered in our ESOL creche so  that other women could learn English 

Adar is a local parent, one of our ESOL (English) students and used to volunteer (she’s now on our payroll) in our creche so that other women can have the time to study and get ahead. When we asked her to volunteer she jumped at the chance. ‘Sally asked ME! I was very scared, as I have never worked before. But I love children when they are young. I like helping them. My children said to me I have to speak English. Don’t be shy. The more people I speak to the more I improve. They pushed me. I like to help people who need help’.

Adar proved to be such an invaluable part of the team that we asked her to join our staff team and she said yes.

Mary’s tackling our IT 

Mary is our Love to Learn team’s IT whizz volunteer. She has volunteered at least weekly with us for 3 years and has recently helped hugely with our transition to the KLS Lamplight data base. Without this our working from home would have been so much harder.

None of us are massive fans of admin (is this why we are doing jobs!!??) and Mary appears to love nothing more than a good IT conundrum. She is known for her trips to Donegal and not that long ago provided helpful advice from an airport in Vietnam. A lesser known fact is her pithy and humorous letters to The Guardian.

Thanks Mary we are lucky to have your tireless back up.

Adalberto helps our Elders 

“At KLS I started as a mini-bus escort picking up the elderly to/from the centre, often helping out serving meals, eating with them and having a chat. I then started personal interviews about how the members feels coming to the centre, what activities they do, and how the centre changed their lifestyle. After Lockdown, I switched to friendly calls making sure the members are doing OK, supporting them with a kind word and listening to anything they have to say. For me the most important characteristic of the volunteer is to show the member that you care about them (even for that moment), and that your time is dedicated to them.

Volunteering at KLS helped me to understand the needs, challenges and dreams of older people. To see and experience how they live, how their home or care home looks like. To learn how to approach them verbally and physically. To be patient. To be respectful and see their point of view and where that point of view comes from. It showed me how much they are willing to make, do, talk with younger generation. To understand more how a community centre works, what kind of activities are offered, when, and why. To talk with experts in the field about the future needs of the elders in the public and private realm.”

Andrea volunteers at our Homework Club 

Andrea is a researcher in Theoretical Physics at King’s College London and has been a volunteer at our weekly Homework Club, for children aged 5 to 11, for nearly two years. During the summer he came on many trips with us, including Brighton and Southend beaches, a farm in Kent and Battersea Park sports day.

Andrea is a crucial part of the Club and has built some strong relationships with children especially Kamal. Kamal is 8 years old and arrived with his family from Syria 2 years ago. At first he really struggled to settle into the Club expecailly as he spoke no English when he started. Andrea was so patient and kind with him, and before the lockdown they would spend most of Club playing lego and practising English. 

Although Andrea had to return to his native Italy due to the current situation, he continues to attend our weekly Zoom ‘Corona Club’. “I am really enjoying Corona Club, I am impressed by the creative activities we are playing online, and it is really nice to do something positive and stay connected during the lockdown. Volunteering has been a very special experience, and I met some fantastic and inspiring young people and adults.”

Sarah volunteers as a Learning Mentor and is a Trustee of KLS too 

“I give my time to KLS because I really enjoy it. It’s fun and is completely different from my paid work. I love seeing my mentee’s confidence grow, and his academic abilities get stronger. More generally, I myself learn through teaching, and I feel incredibly lucky and privileged in my own circumstances and want to contribute to my local community.” 

Get involved 

If you’d like to volunteer, there lots of opportunities at KLS that you could get involved with. You could…

  • Support the education of refugee young people by being a volunteer Learning Mentor
  • Help out at Homework Club or get involved with our summer programme of trips and activities;
  • Ride the buses with our Elders team (when we’re back after lockdown), escorting them safely to and fro from our community centre
  • Help out at our Elders Lunch Club
  • Support the teaching of our ESOL (English) programme
  • Use your professional skills to help KLS develop as an organisation.
  • And there’s more…

Volunteer with KLS

Visit: www.klsettlement.org.uk/volunteer/

Call: 020 7223 2845

Email: [email protected]

To use your professional skills to develop other local charities visit: www.linkuplondon.org (we helped set them up and Link UP are still based in Battersea!)

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