Dot Dot Dot staff give their time to good causes

June 4, 2021

During #VolunteersWeek 2021 we caught up with Dot Dot Dot staff who, like our guardians, often give up their time to volunteer for good causes. From a forest school for kids, to food banks and trustee positions, there’s loads of great work going on in our local communities.

Patrick Harrison, business development associate at Dot Dot Dot

I volunteer for my wife Sue’s forest school business, Branching Out-woods, mainly at a primary school in Braintree.

The theory of forest school is that the children choose what to do in the woodland, and the leaders assist them to do those things, which might be den making, craft, cooking, rope stuff, or almost anything in their imagination. There is a big role for risk taking and fires which the children learn to make for themselves. It sounds hippy-ish but the evidence is that it really helps a child’s development (and the adults! – it’s so hard not to give the answer but let the child take (managed) risks and learn from their mistakes). We do see the children change in a few weeks!

After week three of the six allotted sessions we see the children relax into it and make the time their own. When we ask them if they would like to see anything changed, the response is “No, this is our time to do what we want”. It seems many children have so much of their life structured and directed.

Katharine Hibbert, founder and director of Dot Dot Dot

I’m a volunteer trustee at Headway East London, a charity which supports people who’ve had brain injuries as well as their families. We have a day centre and various outreach programmes working with people from 13 London boroughs, providing everything from physiotherapy and counselling to an art studio and opportunities to make music. As a trustee, I’m responsible (alongside the rest of the board of trustees) for making sure that the charity is well run and makes the biggest difference it can, and I also try to get involved in a hands-on way when I can. I’ve been doing this for seven years now.

I got involved with Headway East London after visiting the centre and being so impressed by the positive, purposeful atmosphere. The members have had their lives changed by devastating brain injuries, and yet they find ways to enjoy themselves and do things which are meaningful and worthwhile. It’s very satisfying to feel that I’m making a contribution to that. I’ve also learned a lot – about brain injury, but also about running a charity, and that helps me in my work at Dot Dot Dot too.

Most of the work of being a trustee is fairly dry, and is mostly focused on risk management – it’s a lot of looking through accounts and policies, and discussing updates to them. The biggest difference I make is probably by sitting on the panel that recruits the charity’s senior leadership team – we recently appointed a new chief executive, which was a huge responsibility. But the most enjoyable and memorable bits are spending time with the members – particularly at the supper clubs we have every few months in non-Covid times, when members cook up a feast for scores of guests as a fundraiser.

Abi Carter, head of growth and partnerships at Dot Dot Dot

I volunteer at Paddington Development Trust, a charity that aims to help communities in north west London exert greater control over their own lives. We run employment and training programmes, and wonderful community health initiatives based around local people delivering health messaging to their peers. We also invest in improving the local built environment and have converted a Grade 1 listed church into a community arts and culture hub. I became a trustee in 2016 and chair a year later. I also volunteer at Tottenham Food Bank, based out of Tottenham Town Hall. I joined in April 2020 when Covid-19 hit and food banks all over the country were affected a) by their usual raft of older volunteers having to self isolate and b) by the surge in demand for their services.

I worked just down the road from Paddington Development Trust – at Lord’s, in St John’s Wood – and wanted to volunteer to see a different side to the area and learn more about the pervasive barriers that prevent so many people in London being able to enjoy and get the most from the city. I also thought it would be useful from a personal development perspective – being able to broaden my own skillset and networks beyond sport. At the food bank, there was a massive need for volunteers, but it also gave me a strong sense of purpose at a time when my plan to go travelling and studying after leaving a long-standing job had been kiboshed by Covid-19…and the alternative seemed to be just to sulk about it!

At the Trust, my most memorable moment was the first time I walked into Grand Junction – the church we converted into a community asset – when it had been scrubbed and renovated, and cleared of scaffold, and was actually hosting local people, running projects that had never been run in that part of London before, and giving them a place to be really proud of. The restoration has been over 10 years in the making and the source of many sleepless nights, and it was amazing to see how much blood, toil, tears and sweat had gone into making it such a joyous place for so many wonderful local people.

The early days of Covid-19 were carnage at the food bank, as you’d expect. We had queues of hungry and desperate people outside, and a paper-based system which wasn’t made to cope with volume. A few of us volunteers quickly helped the organisation that runs the food bank put an effective system in place to get the packing and distribution done, which mainly involved giving out orders with absolutely no authority – but it worked! At times we were delivering to 80/90 people in an afternoon, and the feeling of team work and people focusing on doing small jobs very well never ceased to give me a great sense of pride.

Mark Muldoon, relationship coordinator at Dot Dot Dot

I volunteer at all sorts of different places and I’ve always tried to do it in my local community – it feels good to not just live in my neighbourhood but to be playing an active role in it. I’ve been a volunteer event photographer at Poplar HARCA/Poplar Union since August last year and a volunteer painter and decorator at Civic in Custom House every now and then since last May. I’ve also been a food waste distributor for OLIO in Poplar since November last year and I’ve volunteered as a litter picker in Limehouse Basin for Moo Canoes. Through OLIO, I solely manage the redistribution of supermarket food that would otherwise be thrown away, ensuring as much of it as possible gets into the hands of less well off families in my local community.

Our founder is interviewed in The Telegraph

November 27, 2016


The Telegraph interviewed our founder Katharine Hibbert in advance of her appearance in the “Women and Resilience” event earlier this month.

The event was hosted by The Telegraph Women and The Women’s Chapter, in association with Investec Private Banking, and was in support of the charity Smart Works.

The discussion focused on the theme of Resilience and how women can develop it as a skill to better cope with setbacks in work and life and Katharine shared some of her experience and advice with The Telegraph:

Do you have a business philosophy?

Be kind. That doesn’t always mean being nice, but it does mean being fair and honest, rather than trying to pull any fast ones in the hopes that you’ll get away with it. Integrity is the best strategy in the long run, and even if it wasn’t, it’s still good to get to the weekend and feel as if you’ve made the world slightly better – rather than slightly worse.

Read the article in full on The Telegraph website.

Top 5 London Volunteering Opportunities

September 12, 2014

Top 5 London (2)
This week we’re delighted to feature a volunteering opportunity from fellow Nesta New Radicals winner Mazí Mas. Other great positions include helping out on a thriving city farm and getting creative with Mental Fight Club.

Don’t forget; if you have a volunteering opportunity you’d like us to share please do email us on

Social Media and Communications volunteer

Where: London
When: ASAP
Mazí Mas is a social enterprise that creates and sells authentic home cooking via pop up restaurants across London while employing women from migrant and refugee communities.

The Social Media and Communications volunteer will be in charge of maintaining Mazí Mas’s different social media channels, boosting their profile, running the website and newsletter, and sustaining outreach to other media and relevant parties so as to promote and develop the project. The role will require up to 3 hours dedicated to the weekly team meeting, and between 8 and 10 hours of independent work.

For more details on the position and how to apply visit their website.

Listening volunteer for Samaritans

Where: Across the UK
When: Ongoing
Listening volunteers deliver the Samaritans’ service to people who get in touch by phone, email, letter and in person at one of their 201 branches.

You don’t need to have previous experience or qualifications, but you do need to be interested in other people and be open-minded. You also need to be over 18 years old.

They want volunteers from a range of backgrounds and circumstances, because they believe this helps them provide the best service for people who contact them. In many branches listening volunteers also reach out to people in their community – talking about Samaritans and their work in schools, colleges and community groups.

Apply online.

Spitalfields City Farm

Where: Buxton Street, London E1 5AR
When: Saturdays 10am – 4pm
Spitalfields City Farm was originally set up by volunteers in 1978 and they still rely on volunteers today to help maintain the farm and gardens, look after the animals and assist in delivering projects.

If you love nature and want to help out, here is how you can get involved.

Dragon Cafe Seeks Creative Volunteers!

Where: Southwark
When: ASAP
Dragon Cafe, part of Mental Fight Club, is a not-for-profit organisation with a reputation for running inspirational creative events and projects around mental health and wellbeing.

They need fit and able people to help with the following:

Monday 9am – mid-day – being part of their dynamic team and hardworking team and helping with setting up our project

Monday 6.30pm – 9.30pm – help with overseeing the space, assisting creative delivery as well as being part of the pack down team at the end of the day

Monday – various shifts throughout the day – working in the Kitchen serving food, clearing tables, washing dishes etc. 4-5 hours Max

Previous experience is not necessary. The main thing they need is a willingness to commit to regular, weekly volunteering every Monday (they are only open on Mondays), good physical health and a willingness to listen to and learn from shift leads. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering then do get in touch with Seth Hunter, Project Manager, by emailing or call 07867 330967.

Volunteer with Neighbours in Poplar
Where: various locations across Poplar

When: Ongoing
Neighbours in Poplar came into being in October 1969, when some concerned people gathered together a large number of senior citizens in Pope John House for a Christmas Party.

Because this was so successful and a need had obviously been met, volunteers began to meet regularly, visiting and providing necessary service for people living in the Poplar area of Tower Hamlets, London E14. They are always looking for volunteers to help with their various services across Poplar. You can read more about how you can help here and email Nazma on if you’d like to get involved.

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