Spotlight on: Helen, our beekeeping guardian in Letchworth Garden City

July 30, 2021

From Helen, Dot Dot Dot guardian in Letchworth Garden City

Every Wednesday I volunteer in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with Buzzworks – a charity whose mission is to help people learn about the world of bees and train people in the art of beekeeping. I started off by helping to maintain the education centre gardens, before moving to assist the head beekeeper. We extract the honey from the hives which are then put into jars and sold at a market in Hitchin every month.

Before I became a Dot Dot Dot guardian, I was already volunteering with Friends of Norton Common. I used to go dog walking on the common and one day another dog walker told me about the group. It’s a lovely mix of people who are very knowledgeable, together we make sure that the green spaces are well maintained and safe for visitors to enjoy. We have such a laugh and come rain or shine we are there. Plus it keeps us fit and healthy and helps us feel connected to each other and nature. I’m learning many new skills and can do things now that I never thought I would.

I’m so grateful to Dot Dot Dot for providing me with a safe space in Letchworth so that I could continue living here after moving out of my previous flat. I work in social care and wouldn’t have been able to afford my own space. Now, I have the financial security to be able to enrol in courses and invest in my personal development. Plus, I’ve managed to pay off all my debts and become independent.

I cycle to both volunteer locations every week which makes me feel great and means that I’m not using my car which is good for the environment and my mental health. I’m passionate about normalising conversations around mental and emotional health, and whenever I volunteer I am able to discuss these topics with the other volunteers.

Read more stories from our guardians on their volunteering and how living with Dot Dot Dot has given them the freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals.

Volunteering: Once you pop, you can’t stop

December 2, 2020

From our founder, Katharine Hibbert 

“Thank you for the diligent chivvying”

Perhaps it’s a surprising thank-you note to feel particularly good about, but one of the most cheering emails I’ve had from a Dot Dot Dot guardian was to let us know that his experience with us had changed his mind about volunteering.

He had moved into one of our homes prepared to volunteer for a good cause because he understood that it was part of our model, but he wasn’t very enthusiastic about it.   He had chosen to become a property guardian with us because we had nice flats at a good price in the right place for him, and because of our reputation for fairness and thoroughness.  He didn’t mind volunteering for the 16 hours a month we expected, but he wasn’t particularly excited about our vision of a society where people have the time and energy to give back to causes they care about.

But by the time he moved on from our housing, volunteering had become part of his life, and he carried on after he left – so he emailed me to say thanks for the accountability we’d created for him while he got going.

A survey to make us smile

This man’s email was unusual, but his journey wasn’t.  We recently surveyed our guardians, and of the nearly 100 people who replied, 98% of them said they plan to carry on volunteering after they leave our housing, even though nearly half didn’t volunteer before they joined us.  These responses are encouraging, since enabling people to get involved in good causes and supporting them to become lifelong volunteers is central to our purpose.

Two thirds of the guardians said they plan to carry on doing the same amount of volunteering or more than they have done while living with us, which means continuing to give at least half a day a week to a good cause, a significant commitment.  And two thirds of them volunteered within the borough where they live, meaning that our work has a directly positive effect on the local areas where we operate.

Of the 55% of guardians who volunteered before they joined us, more than half now do more volunteering than before.  Only 4% of guardians surveyed volunteer less than they did before they were housed with us.

A majority also replied that they experienced no down-sides to volunteering – although three in ten said they found it difficult to make time for it.  Covid-19 has also forced four in every five of our guardians to update their approach to volunteering – 11% now volunteer with a different organisation, 13% have moved their volunteering online and, for 21%, the venue in which they used to volunteer is currently closed.  Around a quarter are currently volunteering for less time than they did before the lockdown, while 10% are volunteering more.

When we asked guardians what benefits they experienced from their volunteering, the most frequent responses included the feeling of making a difference, appreciating the roots it gave them in their communities, the fact that it gives them more empathy with people in need, and their own improved mental health and wellbeing.

Giving a helping hand…to form a lifelong habit

These results – and feedback like that quoted above – are very important to us at Dot Dot Dot.  We are not here to press-gang people into doing something they would prefer to avoid.  We aim to attract and house people who want to volunteer and who would like a solution like ours to lower the barriers to doing so, and perhaps a bit of encouragement to actually crack on and do it.

We’re very clear with applicants for our housing that if they’d prefer not to volunteer, they’ll be better off with one of the other property guardian companies in the market – and in this respect it’s fortunate that the other providers don’t expect their guardians to help good causes.  We understand that not everyone has the time and inclination to volunteer, and that’s totally fine – it’s just that we exist for those who do.  So it’s great to see that our guardians are committed enough to their volunteering to continue beyond their time with us.

Our experience is that once people get involved with charities and projects that they care about, and once they are using their skills effectively alongside people they’ve got to know and like, the satisfaction and benefits of volunteering create their own momentum.  So even if getting involved is a bit of a chore at the beginning, it quickly becomes worthwhile in its own right. And those who didn’t volunteer previously are much more likely to report that volunteering has given them new skills they can use professionally and greater satisfaction. We’re glad this means that we’re helping our guardians to improve their own lives, as well as encouraging them to help others.

We’ve thought hard about the ways in which we can help to make volunteering as rewarding as possible for the guardians themselves, as well as impactful for the charities they help.  At its simplest, we aim to help people to find more time to volunteer by lowering their cost of living and providing homes in areas they couldn’t otherwise afford.  Many of those locked in the private rented sector have to work for longer or commute further than they ideally would, and the pressure saps their energy and enthusiasm for giving back.  Reducing the burden of housing costs frees them up to do things they would like to do but previously couldn’t.

On top of this, we find that by creating an environment where being a good neighbour and giving time to good causes is the norm, getting involved feels natural.  And the fact that we send round volunteering opportunities and check how all our guardians’ volunteering is going every month creates accountability.

We think of this aspect of our work as being similar to the role of a personal trainer in a gym.  Even if you know that exercising is good for you, getting started can be hard work and you may need a bit of outside help to get you to actually do it.  It’s not that the personal trainer forces you to do anything you don’t want to, they just reduce the amount of willpower you need to exert to get it done.  We hope that our contact with guardians about their volunteering does a similar job for them, in encouraging them to do something they would like to do anyway.

So while we’re very glad we’re able to support our guardians to collectively give thousands of hours to good causes every month, credit for the effort should go to the guardians themselves – they’ve found the charities they want to help and the roles they want to do, and they’re going to continue into the future.  We’re happy we’ve been able to provide some help along that journey.

You can see more of our guardians’ volunteering stories here. Or to find out more about how we are supporting our guardians to volunteer for good causes, why not read How volunteering helps everyone – not just the beneficiaries.

How volunteering helps everyone – not just the beneficiaries

October 29, 2020

From our founder, Katharine Hibbert

Supporting volunteering has always been central to Dot Dot Dot’s work – and our focus on it is something we are never asked to justify.   No one needs an academic paper to tell them that it’s worthwhile to support people who’d like to do good for others. And it’s easy to see that volunteers keep a huge range of worthwhile organisations going, from household names like the Samaritans and the St John’s Ambulance through to small local food banks and sports clubs.

But the indirect benefits to society as a whole of volunteering, neighbourliness and civic engagement go way beyond the benefits to individuals in need who receive help from volunteers, or to the volunteers themselves who get satisfaction from doing it.  People living in societies with more volunteering, more social connections and higher trust tend to be happier and wealthier, so participation deserves to be measured, celebrated and promoted for these reasons too.

Most current discussion of the benefit of living in a community where people are engaged – either by volunteering formally, getting involved in neighbourhood groups or helping others informally – traces back to Robert Putnam’s book, Bowling Alone, published in 2000.  In it, he argued that social capital is essential to a well-functioning democracy, and defined it as “connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them”. 

He also drew a clear link between the frequency with which people get involved in third-sector activities and organisations, and higher levels of trust and social capital.  As he put it, ‘‘civic engagement and trust are mutually reinforcing’’ and ‘‘the causal arrows among civic involvement…and social trust are as tangled as well-tossed spaghetti’’. 

While it usually takes a certain amount of trust and positivity to start volunteering or to get involved with a club or society in the first place, Putnam’s point is that doing so creates a virtuous spiral – the more you participate, the more positive you feel about others because you have more good experiences and you benefit from more reciprocity.  And this in turn makes you more likely to believe that most people are basically trustworthy, which encourages you to participate more.

This is good for individuals. Sociological research repeatedly shows that higher social trust is correlated with higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction and subjective wellbeing, and we frequently hear from our guardians that their volunteering is positive for them as well as helpful to the causes they give their time to.  

But it’s also good for society as a whole.  Work by Marta Portela and others in the journal, Social Indicators Research, shows that the higher the level of social capital a country has on average, the more likely individuals in that country are to be happy and satisfied with their lives.  And these benefits occur even for those who don’t participate regularly – if you live around others who get involved and have a good opinion of their fellow citizens, your life is probably better too. 

It also makes us all richer.  A country’s average levels of social trust predicts its economic growth more accurately than its average skill levels, according to Dr David Halpern, the Chief Executive of the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team.  As he puts it, “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder; where deals need lawyers instead of hand-shakes; where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish (since you doubt your neighbour will do so); and where you employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who would probably be much better at the job.”  All of that makes life less enjoyable – but it also makes it more expensive and holds back innovation and entrepreneurship, making countries who lack social trust poorer too.

So even though most people who get involved in formal or informal volunteering do it because they want to help a specific cause and because they enjoy it, by doing so they are also making everyone a bit more likely to be happy and wealthy.  We support volunteering because of its positive impacts on good causes and on the volunteers themselves, but by doing so we hope we are also making a small contribution to building a more positive, happier and richer society as a whole.

You can find out more about our commitment to supporting the volunteering efforts of our guardians here, and read more of our guardian stories here.

How volunteering can help you live a happier life

March 16, 2020

Whoever you are and whatever your age, volunteering can give you the all-important help you need to divert your focus away from daily stresses, maintain a healthy mindset and add more spice to your life. Research shows that those who volunteer regularly live longer than those who do not. As we grow older, volunteering encourages us to walk more, to better manage everyday tasks, and to keep our blood pressure at a healthy level – not forgetting keeping our minds more active. So keep reading to discover five ways that volunteering can help you live a happier life.

1. It Connects You To Others

If you’ve recently moved to a new area, you might be feeling lonely or wondering how you can strengthen your ties to the community. One of the best ways you can make new friends and reduce social isolation is by volunteering locally! Whether you’re outgoing or are shy and find it difficult to meet new people, you will be able to mix with others who share your interests and values, which in turn will make it easier for you to integrate into your neighbourhood and provide you with a broader support network. There’s no shortage of fun and fulfilling voluntary activities in London and the UK, so don’t wait – get started today.

2. It’s Good For Your Mind And Body

Volunteering has long-term positive effects on both your mental and physical health. The National Centre of Volunteering conducted a study on the benefits of volunteering on mental health and what they found was incredible. 80% of participants reported a positive effect on their mental health and wellbeing through providing structure, a sense of purpose and improved confidence and self-esteem. 

If you’re feeling the effects of stress and anxiety, volunteering with animals or outdoors is a brilliant way to combat these feelings and reconnect with nature. Studies show that immersing yourself in a natural environment has a positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing, is inherently rewarding and calms the nervous system. Ultimately, this helps to generate a higher degree of openness, connection and generosity towards others! Volunteering with the National Trust or the Dogs Trust are great gateways to getting yourself outside and being at one with planet Earth.   

If you’d really like to get active and give back at the same time, check out Good Gym. With plenty of fun, volunteering activities to get involved in, it’s the perfect place to get started!

3. It Can Advance Your Career

Another aspect of volunteering is that it can help you to gain experience in your area of interest and even meet new contacts who could help you. Volunteer work may be unpaid but that is not an indication of the value in the skills that you will take away. Many voluntary programmes offer extensive training, and most will give you the opportunity to practice all-important workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and project planning. Putting these to good use in the voluntary field might mean that you have more confidence to be able to put them into practice in your work life! 

If you’re considering a new career, volunteering can also help you try before you buy. Without making a long-term commitment, you can test the waters to figure out whether or not it’s the right option for you. 

4. It Brings Fun And Fulfilment To Your Life

To get the most out of your volunteering, consider your goals and interests. For instance, do you want to: 

  • Meet new people
  • Try something new
  • Do something good in your spare time
  • Find new things to do in London
  • Help the community you live in
  • Work with adults, children, animals or from home

Your experience will be all the richer if you feel excited and motivated by the field. Keeping passion and positivity in mind is the most important thing where volunteering is concerned. Yes, you’ll be learning new skills, but it’s not critical to a fun and fulfilling volunteering experience. Many people like to volunteer outside of work to make time for hobbies they love doing! For example, if your 9-5 desk job doesn’t allow for much time spent out in the fresh air, you may like to volunteer one day a week helping to plant a community garden.

5. You’re Helping Others

Researchers have found through measuring hormones and brain activity, that the simple act of helping another person results in feelings of happiness. The concept is simple: as humans, we are hard-wired to be generous to others, and so the higher the level of generosity, the happier we’ll then feel. Through volunteering, you are directly helping others and the community, giving you a natural sense of achievement, pride and identity. If you feel better in yourself, you’ll naturally develop a more optimistic perspective on life and your own future. 

We’ve discussed just a handful of ways that volunteering can positively impact your life, but there are hundreds of happy outcomes that can be personal to you. To read more about how volunteering and guardianship go together, check out our Dot Dot Dot Property Guardian’s volunteering stories here along with tips to get started

This week’s top 5 volunteering opportunities

July 15, 2016

1.FareShare
FareshareWhere: South East London

When: Various 
Category: Food Waste, Hunger, Poverty
Commitment Level: Various

Fareshare take surplus food and redistributes it around the country where it is used by partner charities to help feed those who need it. Volunteers help to carry out the vital activities that make FareShare happen. They have a variety of roles open at the moment including driving and sorting. To find out more and to register your interest, click here.

2.Cleaner, Greener Volunteering 
cleaner greener volunteersWhere: Bow Church
When: August 6th 10.30-13.00 and August 13th 10.00-12.00
Category: Gardening, Conservation, Community
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Cleaner, Greener Volunteers are looking for people to help them gardening in Bow Churchyard at the beginning of August. Their next tasks are cutting back some of the old shrubs and pruning roses. If you are interested, please contact Christine Gennings. Email: Christine.Gennings@towerhamlets.gov.uk

3. La Leche League (LLL) Breastfeeding advice
LLLWhere: National
When: Various
Category: Advice, Breastfeeding, Health
Commitment Level: Various

LLL offers breastfeeding advice for mothers. They are looking for volunteers to become trained counsellors to give support and guidance to help mothers in their breastfeeding journey. They offer monthly group meetings as well as a 24 hour helpline. To find out more and to express interest, click here.

4.Sutton Community Farm
Sutton Community FarmWhere: Sutton
When: Various
Category: Gardening, Farming, Conservation
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc and Ongoing

Sutton Community Farm is a community-owned farm. They started in 2010 in response to a community need, with the purpose to increase access to fresh, healthy sustainable food and provide a shared space for people to cultivate skills, get exercise and make friends. There are a variety of volunteering opportunities on offer, see here for more information.

5.The Mix
the mixWhere: From home
When: Ongoing
Category: Support, Advice, Young People
Commitment Level: Varied

The Mix offers relationship support and advice for under-25s through phone, text, email, forums and counselling.  Opportunities for volunteering are various and can be from the comfort of your own home. To find out more, see here.

This week’s Wimbledon themed top 5 volunteering opportunities

July 1, 2016

Today marks the 1st of July, and what better way to serve up summer than our Wimbledon themed Volunteering Opportunities…

1.Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
lee valleyWhere: E20 3AD
When: Last Saturday of each month
Category: Sports, Tennis, Disabilities
Commitment Level: Ongoing Commitment

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority are looking for sighted guides for Visually Impaired Tennis Players. The purpose of this role is to support their monthly visually impaired camps. This includes providing a sighted guide service to and from Leytonstone Tube Station. At the centre volunteers have the opportunity to support the lead coach on court by assisting with the games/drills that are being organised. For more information and to register your interest, click here.

2.Bikeworks
bikeworksWhere: Tower Hamlets, Newham, Kensington and Chelsea
When: Various (1x 4 hour session a month)
Category: Sports, Cycling, Disabilities
Commitment Level: Weekly Commitment

Bikeworks are looking for an inclusive cycling club and admin volunteer. Duties will include welcoming participants, checking that they are registered and assisting new participants with their initial assessment. Full training will be provided. For more information, see here.

3.Mencap Haringey
mencap haringeyWhere: Tottenham
When: Wednesday Afternoons
Category: Sports, Boxing, Disabilities
Commitment Level: Weekly Commitment

As part of the Group Initiatives Volunteering Experiences project, Mencap Haringey are looking for gym and boxing buddies. The role involves assisting local adults with learning disabilities/difficulties. Volunteers will receive disability awareness training and will learn how to plan activities and risk assess. Click here for more information.

4. Deen City Farm
Deen city farmWhere: Merton
When: Tuesday 5th July 10am-1pm
Category: Farm, Gardening, Sustainability
Commitment Level: Ad hoc 

Deen City Farm are holding an outdoor gardening session and are looking for people to help them dig and prune. There will be a whole host of jobs for people of all ages and abilities. If you are interested in this opportunity, see here for more details.

5. London Youth Rowing
London Youth RowingWhere: London Regatta Centre, E16 2QT
When: Various
Category: Sports, Youth, Rowing, Coaching
Commitment Level: Ongoing Commitment

The London Regatta Centre is looking for enthusiastic rowing coaches who will be able to help young people access a new sport. As a charity, they work with young people who may not necessarily have been able to access the sport without their help. Most of the sessions run within school time, and they also run after-school sessions on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Volunteers will be asked to help regularly with the same group. Click here to apply.

 

 

 

 

This week’s top five volunteering opportunities

June 10, 2016

1.Cleaner, Greener Volunteering 
cleaner greener volunteersWhere: Bow Churchyard
When: June 18th – 10am – 12.30pm 
Category: Gardening, Weeding, Clean-up 
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc 

The Cleaner, Greener Volunteers are looking for people to help them prepare the churchyard for their Open Garden Squares session. This will involved weeding and dead heading. If you are interested or want to find out more, please contact Chris Gennings at christine.gennings@towerhamlets.gov.uk

2.Positive Steps Thamesmead
trust thamesmeadWhere: Thamesmead
When: Various
Category: Community, Wellbeing, Signposting 
Commitment Level: Ongoing

The Positive Steps Thamesmead project is a wellbeing and signposting service for local residents, based in several well-used community facilities across Thamesmead. The Advisors team speak to members of the public to assess their various needs and refer them to appropriate support services. At the moment they are looking for Team Leaders to assist in co-ordinating the project, Advisors to meet with the public at drop-in services and Administrative Volunteers. If you are interested in this, please contact Sarah Feleppa at email: sarah.feleppa@peabody.org.uk or phone: 020 3828 4936

3.The Mill

the millWhere: 7-11 Coppermill Lane 

When: Various
Category: Community, Events, Administration, Fundraising
Commitment Level: Ongoing

The Mill is a community space run for, and by the community. They rely on volunteers to keep the building open and are currently looking for fundraising volunteers, reception and front of house volunteers and event teams volunteers. If you are interested and want to find out more, fill out the volunteer form on their website or get in touch with Helen, the Volunteer Coordinator. Email: info@themill-coppermill.org or Phone: 020 85213211

4.Chance UK
Chance ukWhere: Around London
When: Various
Category: Community, Mentor, Young People
Commitment Level: Ongoing

As a Chance UK mentor you will be a role model for a child, helping them make positive changes in their behaviour. You will be matched with a child and will meet them once a week for 2-4 hours. If you are interested in this opportunity, you can find out more and apply here.

5.Active Bucks
Active_Bucks_Logo_strapline_1500x844-3-_400x160Where: Around Buckinghamshire
When: Various
Category: Community, Active, Support
Commitment Level: Ongoing

Active Bucks are looking for people to act as Active Bucks Community Champions and help them support people to become more active, more often. Champions will represent local residents – understanding what would help them get more active. No previous regular physical activity is required, just enthusiasm. If you are interested, please contact Holly Skinner at holly.skinner@active-bucks.com

 

 

This week’s top 5 volunteering opportunities

May 30, 2016

The 1st-10th June is National Volunteers’ Week. Here are some opportunities to get you started: 

1.Trust Thamesmead 

trust thamesmeadWhere: Various
When: Friday 3rd June
Category: Gardening, Arts, Befriending, Sports
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Volunteer at one of four local Thamesmead opportunities in gardening, arts and crafts, befriending and sports. Contact Sarah Feleppa for more information and to pick up a volunteer pass. Email: Sarah.feleppa@peabody.org.uk or call 020 3828 4936.

2. The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts logo(1)Where: Various
When: Various
Category: Conservation, Protection, Wildlife
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

The Wildlife Trust are looking for people to help them to protect local wildlife. They have a variety of volunteering options around the UK which range from community gardening to species surveying. To find out more and to register your interest, click here.

3. Kith and Kids

kith_logoWhere: Tottenham (then Camp is residential) 
When: Camp is 21st to 28th August
Category: Disabilities, Learning Difficulties, Camp
Commitment Level: High

Kith and Kids are looking for volunteers to support their members who have learning disabilities to take part in fun activities on their residential camp. To find out more about this opportunity, see here.

4.Heather Lodge

hestiaWhere: Tower Hamlets
When: Various
Category: Befriending, Mental Health
Commitment Level: Ongoing

Heather Lodge is a supported accommodation service for adults with Mental Health problems. They are looking for a volunteer befriender to offer emotional support to a service user through weekly visits. If this is something that appeals to you, find out more here.

5. The Streets

the streetsWhere: Various
When: Various
Category: Music, Community, Events 
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

The Streets is a dynamic programme aimed at bringing high quality music and performance to the boroughs of London. They are looking for a team of volunteers to engage in the local community through working in the boroughs involved in the activity. For more information and to register your interest, see here.

 

This week’s top 5 volunteering opportunities

May 20, 2016

1.Crisis

crisisWhere: Various
When: 9th June and 16th June
Category: Events, Fundraising, Homeless 
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Crisis run a number of fundraising events throughout the year and would like volunteers to help out. At the moment they are looking for volunteers to help with the Crisis Square Mile Relay on the 9th June and the Crisis Square Mile Run on the 16th June. On both days they need route marshals and site stewards. Please contact smr@crisis.org.uk or call Kayleigh on 020 7036 2879 to sign up or find out more.

2.Spires – for homeless and disadvantaged people

spiresWhere: Streatham
When: Various
Category: Drop in, Homeless, Poverty, Befriending
Commitment Level: Ongoing

Spires work with homeless and disadvantaged people. Volunteers are needed during all the sessions – from open access drop in to Women’s Space at the centre. Particular roles are assigned on a daily basis, however tasks will be a mixture of befriending, serving food and helping clients complete forms. For more information and to register your interest, click here.

3.The Bike Project

bike projectWhere: Denmark Hill
When: Thursdays 5pm-8pm 
Category: Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Bikes, Befriending
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

The Bike Project are a charity who take in second hand bikes, fix them up and give them away for free to refugees and asylum seekers. This opportunity is for those interested in learning bike mechanical skills and helping those less fortunate. To apply, click here.

4.Royal National Lifeboat Institution

rnliWhere: SE1 0QL
When: Weekdays
Category: Admin, Minutes, Communication
Commitment Level: Ongoing commitment – 2 days per month

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has an opportunity available for a volunteer interested in helping to facilitate successful RNLI committee meetings by setting up meeting rooms and taking accurate minutes. To find out more, click here.

5. Spitalfields City Farm

spitalfields city farmWhere: E1 5AR
When: Various
Category: Gardening, Community, Farming
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Spitalfields City Farm was originally set up by volunteers and still relies on volunteers today to help maintain the farm and gardens, look after the animals and assist in delivering projects. There are a variety of ways to get involved, to see them click here.

 

 

Spotlight on Emilija

May 19, 2016

Emilija is a guardian with us in East London. From the start she has dived straight into her volunteering. This is what she has to say: 

Emilija1‘Today marks my 10 week anniversary as a guardian with Dot Dot Dot. Since starting I have volunteered with at least 7 different organisations on top of my full time job. It has been a steep learning curve comprised of moments of bliss and some crises of self-confidence.

On reflection this journey has been full of the unexpected. Amongst more traditional volunteering roles such as fundraising and leafleting, my volunteering repertoire now includes sheep herding and dressing a disposable nappy stall.

One of the first volunteering activities I signed up for was an ‘Urban Weed Walk’ in Hackney organised by a gardening community ‘Cordwainers Grow’. The walk involved combing the streets of Hackney with urban ecologist Annie to help her spot, identify and record wild plants sprouting in the paving cracks and brick walls.

emilija2One of my more regular commitments is helping out at Mudchute Farm. Working with animals surrounded by the park’s rolling hills makes for a nice change from the day-to-day desk bound work, even if you end up going home smelling of muck! The staff are very welcoming, the fellow volunteers are great company and many hands make for light work.

I have also undertaken more civilised volunteering roles. My most recent commitment is doing online research for the charity “Action on Hearing Loss”. However my next big challenge is to launch a volunteering cause of my own. I want to set up creative workshops for adults to help them rediscover the joy of imaginative experimentation and problem solving.

Starting new things can be a slow process but I am optimistic. The last 10 weeks have shown me that you can succeed in new things if you put your mind to it – even if it’s sheep herding.’

Get involved

  • If you’re interested in volunteering and becoming a guardian with Dot Dot Dot, apply here today
  • Keep up to date with our news and our guardians’ volunteering experiences on Facebook and Twitter

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