Spotlight on Sam: Creating connections through volunteering

Dot Dot Dot guardian, Sam, in Chrisp Street Market.

As a video producer and communications consultant in the social sector, Sam has had the opportunity to work with non-profit organisations in Ireland, the UK and Sub Saharan Africa. Through volunteering as part of his Dot Dot Dot guardianship, Sam has been able to offer his skills to organisations that couldn’t otherwise afford his services.

Using his unique skills to help others

In June last year, Sam moved from Dublin into one of our east London properties. Without the pressure of high rental costs, he’s found that he has more time to support the organisations he cares about.

“I’ve been volunteering since I started my career, but in Dublin I didn’t have time to volunteer in a planned or consistent way. I had to pretty much solely focus on paid work to pay the rent. Now that I’m a Dot Dot Dot guardian, I am paying half less than what I was paying in Dublin. I have more time to dedicate to organisations I care about.

I love being able to offer my professional skills pro bono to organisations that would otherwise be unable to afford my services. As my work focuses on social justice communications, I enjoy volunteering my time with a range of projects linked to my primary work.

My volunteering work focuses on marginalised communities particularly LGBT+, disability, and migrant issues. I’ve helped a variety of organisations in different ways from planning websites, to producing visual content and creating mental health resources.”

As someone who works in the social sector, he was also intrigued by the idea of living in the social economy.

“I have a postgraduate in Social Enterprise so I was drawn to the fact that Dot Dot Dot is a social enterprise itself. I’ve not been a property guardian for very long, but from what I’ve experienced so far they exhibit a high level of standard and responsibility to their guardians.”

Guardian Sam volunteering.

Building new social connections

Dot Dot Dot guardians volunteer for 16 hours each month with many doing much more than this – Sam is one of these people. He splits his volunteering hours between pro bono work and volunteering locally which he’s found to be a great way to build social connections in a new city.

“One of my latest volunteer projects has been with Blueprint, an initiative supporting people who might not normally have the opportunity to become arts producers. I’ve been working with them to capture their story, and the really exciting arts festival they created. The story we’re telling will hopefully help connect with others to get involved with the programme, and make these arts opportunities more diverse and inclusive.

I’ve also been working with Friends of the Joiners Arms, an organisation passionate about protecting and creating queer spaces. They are now looking to open up the UK’s first community run queer venue. I’ve been working with them on plans for ensuring inclusivity and accessibility, and ways to communicate better with members so they can engage more with this great work.”

Although property guardianship is a temporary form of living, this hasn’t prevented Sam from forming friendships:

“Property guardianship is a temporary lifestyle,” he says. “As property guardians we are meanwhile people in meanwhile spaces. I’ve just moved to the UK, and I am looking to build connections while not being rooted anywhere for too long. So this property guardianship is perfect for me in this period of transition in my life.”

“As a guardian, you are at the heart of the community. I’m new to the UK and I’ve already got to meet lots of people from different backgrounds through neighbours and volunteering. I’ve helped my neighbour fix a few things around their flat, and we’ve become friends. There’s a social awareness that comes with being a guardian. And that’s been one of my favourite aspects so far.”

How to get into volunteering

As a veteran volunteer, Sam has some words of advice for guardians starting out on their volunteering journey.

“16 hours can sound like a really long time. But you can break it up by finding blocks of time that fit around your schedule. I’ve found it really useful to split my time across multiple different organisations.

If you’re looking for local opportunities, you only have to keep your eyes peeled and ears open. In my first few weeks here, I came across loads of volunteering opportunities through posters in my local cafe and speaking with my fellow guardians.”