Spotlight on: Aoise and Zoe, International Women’s Day

March 19, 2021

For International Women’s Day, we highlighted two of our guardians who are supporting women through their work and volunteering, helping to build a more equal future for all. Read more from our former guardian Aoise who’s paving the way for women leaders in social enterprise through her work with Supply Change. And our east London guardian, Zoe, who has been supporting vulnerable women and children in temporary housing through her volunteering with the Magpie Project.

 

Aoise, Supply Change

From our former guardian, Aoise

I was trying to find a place to live in London, and to do that in an affordable way was really difficult because London is so expensive…My weekend jobs were mainly waitressing which wasn’t that well paid, so I really wanted to be able to find a place that would allow me to continue with Year Here (a programme for entrepreneurs driven to create meaningful social change). That’s where Dot Dot Dot came in.

Living with Dot Dot Dot and not having to pay huge amounts of money for housing was a huge aspect of being able to carry on with Year Here. It gave me that breathing space to explore options with Supply Change, the social enterprise I set up with two of my fellow alumni, and really build on the learning I had gained from Year Here. It gave me a great launching pad and foundation.

The whole ethos and mission of Supply Change is to help social enterprises win and deliver more contracts. Our supplier base is over 50% women-led, which I think is quite common across the sector, and from the outset we try to support them to get them in front of buyers. We believe that redirecting some of that buyer spend to social businesses and social entrepreneurs can be really meaningful, especially when they’ve got past the stage of relying on grant funding. Directing revenue and regular contracts to these businesses is a really really great way of supporting social enterprises and the women who lead them.

Another way I support women entrepreneurs is through Supply Change itself. We are completely women-founded and we are a 75% women team. There are a lot of amazing women leaders in the social enterprise sector. Three female leaders in procurement is definitely a change in the way things have been done previously. We are paving the way for a lot more women to be leaders within the social enterprise sector and social procurement.

Zoe, The Magpie Project

From our east London guardian, Zoe

For a long time I had been looking to be involved with an organisation focused on supporting women, but hadn’t found myself with enough time to do so. Then after becoming a guardian with Dot Dot Dot, I found myself with more time to dedicate to issues I cared about. After learning about the incredible work that the Magpie Project does to support women and their children, I knew their cause was the one I wanted to be involved with.

The Magpie Project is an amazing charity that supports vulnerable women and their small children that are living in temporary accommodation. They work incredibly hard to get these families on their feet, and they stand up for them in ways that others haven’t. Since I started volunteering for them my role as a volunteer has involved a bit of everything. On a regular shift my role involves helping during a day session at their centre in various ways, as well as creating illustrations that they could use.

Since the pandemic started the Magpie Project has been working very hard to find ways to continue supporting its families in a safe and socially distanced way, and they’ve been very successful in finding ways to deliver help such as food and essentials to their homes. Even when the Magpie Project centre had to close its doors because of the pandemic, it found ways to continue delivering help to families that would otherwise be destitute

I volunteered for them remotely by creating some videos for the children and families to do illustration and creative activities at home. Volunteering for the Magpie Project allowed me to support women not only by helping with the work that they do every week at their centre, but also using my own skills, such as creating illustrations they could use to raise awareness about their cause, or to sell and to raise funds for the women and their families.

Becoming a Dot Dot Dot guardian enabled me to dedicate more of my time to causes I care about, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible given the high cost of living and rent in London.

Dot Dot Dot not only gave me the opportunity to pursue my own path, as I was then able to afford enough space to have my own studio at home to develop my work, but also gave me the opportunity to give some of my time to others and help causes I feel are meaningful and worth supporting.

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

Life as a Dot Dot Dot guardian: Mahmoud, Oxford

February 26, 2021

From Dot Dot Dot guardian, Mahmoud, Oxford

I first heard of Dot Dot Dot through a friend who was a property guardian in Oxford. At the time I was living in a flat near my restaurant, Za’atar Bake which was expensive for the area. When the lockdown started last year, I realised I needed to save money in order to be able to sustain my business – otherwise I’d lose it. I saw that there was a Dot Dot Dot flat available so took my chance and applied. Now I’m saving hundreds of pounds each month which gives me peace of mind that my restaurant will be OK.

Last May, we started offering free home-cooked meals every day during lockdown to the homeless and others who couldn’t afford to buy their own food in our community. We thought maybe 10-15 people would show up. We ended up regularly giving away 60 meals a day. A lot of the money I’m saving through living with Dot Dot Dot is redirected to the restaurant and goes towards providing the free meals. I’m grateful to know that I can do this with comfort and continue to do so once we can reopen which I’m hoping will be in March for our community.

We also did a meal for 90 people on Christmas Day for people who didn’t have anyone to spend it with – we were really supported by the community who gave us a Christmas tree, decorations, lighting and we were even gifted 300kg of rice! Oxford Hub (a social action charity committed to bringing people and organisations together) invited us all to have a free buffet to say thank you and I even spoke to the Oxford Lord Mayor about more ways to give back to the community. It’s great to see people paying attention and thinking about other ways they can help.

Since we started offering free meals we have also seen our sales increase through people coming in to support us and our bond with the community has gotten stronger. We didn’t want donations or to make money off the back of offering free meals, so the best way that we can be supported is through people coming and enjoying the food at Za’atar Bake. Giving is about giving to everybody and doing charitable work is an amazing feeling. I want to spread good vibes and hope to the Oxford community and I’m proud to do it. It keeps us all going to see people being positively affected by what we’re doing.

I love sports and staying active, and last June I set a challenge for the community called ‘Running for 30k’ (or ‘Walk for 30k’!). People had one month to either run or walk everyday until they reached their goal of 30k – the aim was to get people outdoors in the fresh air and enjoying sport. Once they’d reached their goal of 30k they were able to come to my restaurant and claim their free lunch or dinner. So many people got involved and one woman told me it was the first time in her life that she felt fitter and lost weight. It shows what happens when you give people a challenge and spread hope.

A lot of people don’t think about giving time to charity when they’re busy with their lives and working hard. It’s all too easy to not think about giving back. Since living with Dot Dot Dot, I’ve not only saved money but gained flexibility in my life in order to give what I can to my community. I enjoy living in a society where we do what we can to help others.

You can find out more about the work that Mahmoud and his team are doing for the Oxford community here. You can also read more stories here from our guardians on how living with Dot Dot Dot has given them the freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals.

Spotlight on: Tom – what it’s like to volunteer for Samaritans

December 18, 2020

Writer for The Economist by day and volunteer with Samaritans by night, east Londoner, Tom, has been a Dot Dot Dot guardian for three years. Writing from his 2-bed flat, Tom describes the reality of his eye-opening role as a listening volunteer, and how being part of an army of like-minded people looking to make a positive difference is an extremely rewarding venture.

It’s 10.30pm on a Monday and I’m one of hundreds of Samaritans volunteers on duty tonight. I cycle from Poplar along the Thames path and under the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to my local branch in Lewisham. The river is peaceful and the path quiet. It’ll be silent when I return just after 3.

Becoming a listening volunteer begins with an information evening and a short selection process. Training normally involves several sessions which mix theory and role-play. These are usually in person but have been virtual during the pandemic. New volunteers are then assigned a mentor and you work together to develop your practice until you’re ready to take calls independently. However, you’re never “flying solo” – there’s always at least two on duty in a branch at any one time plus a leader on call. Training is stimulating and eye-opening. I was part of collaborative and close-knit group and many of us have stayed in contact. “This is not work experience” we are told early on. And it’s a really important point. Volunteers are discouraged from seeing training at Samaritans as just a stepping stone to a career in counselling. To train as a listening volunteer is to share the mission of the organisation and commit to regular duties in the long-term.

Contrary to perception, and despite being founded by a vicar, Samaritans is not a Christian organisation. The Rev Dr Chad Varah described its beginnings as “a man willing to listen, with a base and an emergency telephone.” The Daily Mirror called Chad the “telephone good Samaritan” and the name stuck. Now, over 20,000 volunteers in over 200 branches provide emotional support over the telephone, via email and by letter. There’s currently a pilot project trialling instant messaging too.

When people find out I volunteer at Samaritans, they usually have lots of questions. Our strict confidentiality policy – everything said in a contact remains within Samaritans – means volunteers do not share what’s been said in a call, even with those closest to them. There’s lots of support within the organisation. Common questions asked, that can be answered, include how often do you do it (I volunteer once a week) and do you always do nights (no, you can generally choose your hours but you are expected to contribute to the night shifts).

Volunteering for Samaritans is extremely rewarding: after each shift you know you have helped a number of people. You sense you’ve made a difference at the most basic level – you have been there for someone. You feel part of an army of like-minded people with similar motivations. Although the charity is vast, each branch has its own ways of doing things and each is its own unique community. As a guardian, my regular duties enable me to fulfil my 16 hours and often more.

There are lots of development opportunities within Samaritans. Each branch relies on volunteers taking on additional roles: from management, to mentoring to fundraising. Volunteers are supported to develop their skills and follow their interests. Two years into my Samaritans journey, I’m now helping my first mentee begin theirs.

You can donate to help Samaritans maintain their listening service at www.samaritans.org/donate-now. Whatever you’re going through, you can call Samaritans any time, from any phone for free on 116 123. You can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org. For more, visit www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan.

Read more of our guardians’ volunteering stories over at our guardian spotlight

Spotlight On: Volunteers’ Week

June 8, 2016


volunteers weekThis week is ‘Volunteers’ Week’. It’s a chance for third sector organisations to say thank you to the millions of volunteers who make their work possible. For more information about the week and to take a look at the celebratory events being held across the country, click here.

At Dot Dot Dot, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Since we started, our guardians have done the equivalent of many years worth of volunteering. Volunteering with large national charities like Crisis and Stonewall, organisations local to where they live such as Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours and Richmond Park, and projects they’ve helped to get off the ground like The People’s Kitchen and Divest Bexley, all our guardians have been dedicating their time to making a difference.HACT blog

Our need for committed and dependable volunteers is especially great because we trust our guardians to be great neighbours for the communities we work with. On this front our guardians have exceeded our expectations: seeking out opportunities to get involved with great local causes, assisting neighbours through gardening help, litter-picking schemes and by generally being the friendly faces next door.

So thank you guardians!

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

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.

 

 

This week’s top five volunteering opportunities

May 13, 2016

1.Hackney Winter Shelter
hackney winter night shelterWhere: St Anne’s Church, Hoxton
When: Every Saturday – 4.30 – 7.30pm 
Category: Food, Homeless, Shelter
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Hackney Winter Shelter run a soup kitchen at the back of St Anne’s church in Hoxton every saturday. They serve a three course dinner for up to 60 people a week. You can come along on an ad hoc basis to set up, serve food, wash up and chat to guests. If this is something that interests you, email Leanne: leannegoodchild@hotmail.com

2.Beanstalk Charity
beanstalkWhere: Various 
When: Various
Category: Education, Young People
Commitment Level: Ongoing

Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. As a Beanstalk reading helper you will work with children on a one-to-one basis. You would be working with 3 children and would see each child for two 30-minute sessions a week during term time. For more information see here and to register your interest email: SFeleppa@trust-thamesmead.co.uk

3.Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
greenwich and docklands international festivalWhere: Greenwich and Docklands
When: 24th June – 2nd July
Category: Festival, Arts, Theatre
Commitment Level: Various

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival is London’s leading festival of free outdoor performing arts. They are looking for enthusiastic and dependable people who can help make the festival happen. There are a variety of roles – to see more and apply, click here.

4.Tottenham Ploughman Riverfest

Where: Lordship Hub, N17
When: 29th May 11am-6pm
Category: Festival, Rivers, Community
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Tottenham Ploughman Riverfest are looking for volunteers to film the event, hand out leaflets in advance and to help compere the stage. The RiverFest is an opportunity to bring communities together and to make their rivers better. To find out more, click here. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Cheryl: info@tottenhamploughman.com

5. Play Days

play daysWhere: Lordship Rec, near Bruce Grove
When: 26th June
Category: Community, arts, 
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Play Days is a festival of (child’s) play for adults. It’s about communities coming together and having a good time. There are a variety of opportunities in event production, event management, games facilitation and craft workshop leaders. To find out more about the day and to express your interest, click here.

Spotlight on the London Marathon

May 4, 2016

Sunday 24th April saw the masses head out across London to do a combination of running, shouting and volunteering at the iconic London Marathon. The community spirit means that it really shows London at its best.

ldn mrthOver 39,000 runners took to the streets to run the gruelling 26.2 miles. It struck us that it is amazing that 39,000 people care about a variety of causes so much, from Cancer Research UK to Guide Dogs that they chose to spend the long winter months training. They raised an incredible amount of money for some really worthwhile charities, making a huge different to the lives of so many.

Whilst thinking about this, we also thought about our great property guardians who spend 16 hours of their time each month volunteering for a large number of causes and charities. So far in 2016 this amounts to a grand total of 10,669 hours or 5.5 years of full time work.

londn marathWe wanted to explore the reasons that they volunteer, and allow them to express their motivations on our blog.

Jordan, who volunteers for Thames Reach said, ‘I take people who are homeless off the streets and into a centre where they receive further help. I do it because no one should be without a home in 2016.’

Pete, who lives with us in East London told us that volunteering is an important part of his life. ‘In the past people’s kindness and practical help have enabled me to learn and to progress in many aspects of my own life. Without this help in the past, I wouldn’t be equipped to help others as I do now. Therefore, volunteering is a way of showing my gratitude, while equipping young people with the skills needed to be of help to others in the future.

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

Spotlight on David

March 31, 2016

David has been living with Dot Dot Dot in one of our North London properties for the past 7 months, and has amassed over 100 hours of volunteering for a wide range of organisations – from gardening projects to helping feed the homeless as well as getting involved in a community choir in the local area.

One of David’s main volunteering projects was working in a Mind Charity Shop. He commented on this experience:

mind charityshop‘I sell every manner of goods at the till. I provide friendly conversation which my manager says the customers like! On a typical Sunday I freshen the book stock, and am trusted to label and price new books. With the manager I discuss politics and life. It’s wonderful to do good and enjoy friendships at the same time.’

However, this is not the only opportunity David has been involved in. He also spent some time volunteering with The Conservation Volunteers, helping to manage the landscape at Alexandra Park.  He described this as:

‘Bramble bashing. We cleared about 20m2 of the stuff between the four of us in light rain. So prickly! The toughest part was getting the roots out. Loads of robins started to eye up the disturbed soil, hungry for those worms!’

dalston eastern curve gardenIn other outdoor work, David has also taken part in helping gardening with Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and in packing vegetables for an organic vegetable box scheme, Crop Drop.

He has also taken part in some one-off opportunities such as Crisis at Christmas, where he helped out people who were homeless and spoke to some interesting characters.

We are all really impressed by the amount and variety of volunteering that David has set up – and hope that this continues into the future!

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

This week’s top five volunteering opportunities

March 18, 2016

missing people1.Missing People

Where:  South-West London
When: Various
Commitment Level: Various

Missing People is a charity which is dedicated to bringing missing children and adults back together with their families. They have a variety of volunteer opportunities to get involved in – which you can find here. For further information please email volunteer@missingpeople.org.uk or contact them by phone on 0208 392 5548.

2.Trees for Cities

trees for citiesWhere: Greenwich, SE9 2JE
When: 2nd April 10.00-16.00
Commitment Level: One-off

Trees for Cities is working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to plant new trees around Eltham Estates in Greenwich. The species have been specially selected to help prevent flooding. They need volunteers to help them plant, stake and mulch the trees and shrubs. For more information, see here.

3.Friends of The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields

smitf-logoWhere: Central London
When: Various
Commitment Level: Various

The Friends of The Connection is a network of people dedicated to preventing street homelessness and reintegrating homeless people into society. The Friends does not offer direct volunteering opportunities with homeless people but they do offer opportunities in fundraising and other areas. They have openings for a communications lead, an honorary treasurer, a membership recruitment lead and a local fundraising support lead. If you are interested in any of these please contact the Chair, Charles Woodd on 07962 213494 or email friends@cstm.org.uk

4.Into University

iu_logo_conWhere: Various
When: Various
Commitment Level: Regular Commitment

Into University provides local learning centres where young people are inspired to achieve. They have a whole variety of volunteering opportunities, which you can find here.

5.Poplar HARCA – Spring Festival Volunteers

cs-poplar-harcaWhere: Chrisp Street
When: 23rd April
Commitment Level: One-off commitment

Chrisp Street is hosting a Spring Festival to celebrate all things green and local on Saturday 23rd April. They are looking for friendly and welcoming volunteers to help with the event. For more information and to register your interest, click here.

This week’s top 5 volunteer opportunities

January 23, 2015

Top 5 London (2)
1. Centrepoint need a Gardener, Admin person and IT Tutor
When: Ongoingcentrepoint1
Where: Central House, 25 Camperdown Street, E1 8DZ

80,000 young people experience homelessness every year. Centrepoint gives homeless young people a future, supporting them through housing, education and training. Visit centrepoint.co.uk for more information on their volunteering opportunities.

2. Kith and Kids volunteering opportunities
When: Training starts on 29th Jan 2015
Where: The Irish Centre, Pretoria Road, London. N17 8DXKith and Kids

Kith and Kids need volunteers to support young adults with autism and/or mild learning disabilities to develop employment and life skills on fun daytime sessions in North London.

No experience needed, just enthusiasm and energy! Training, support & travel expenses are offered.  Call Rich on 0208 801 7432, email rich@kithandkids.org.uk or visit their website for further information.

3. Volunteer with The Remakery
When: Apply by 31st January 2015
Where: LambethThe remakery

Interested in writing newsletters, designing flyers, social media, organising and advertising events? Be part of launching an incredible space for their community.

The Remakery is a cooperative run fully by volunteers. They are working towards launching a hub for enterprise, training and community projects centred on the re-use of waste materials.

They want to create accessible opportunities for disadvantaged, low-income residents and ultimately contribute to Lambeth Council’s aim of reducing waste destined for landfill. They’re looking for a volunteer who can support on communication, events and/or marketing.

Interested? Contact Angela Rouse on angela@remakery.org. To apply, simply email Angela a letter outlining your interest and skills by 31 January 2015. Check out their website for more information.

4. Volunteer for Relate
When: Ongoing
Where: Across LondonRelate

Relate offer counselling and support for all relationships.  Relate Centres are looking for people with time to spare to help with:

  • working in a Relate charity shop
  • volunteering as a receptionist or administrator
  • offering expert support to a Relate Centre e.g. IT support.

Interested?  Contact your nearest Relate Centre at relate.org.uk to find opportunities.

5. S.P.I.D. Theatre Company needs volunteers
When: Tuesdays
Where: Ladbroke Grove

spid

S.P.I.D is an award winning professional theatre using site specific theatre to engage people within neglected environments. They are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to support:

  • workshop facilitators when leading sessions at
  • backstage on performances
  • office administration and marketing.

Develop your communication and facilitation skills, work alongside professional theatre makers and learn how to deliver theatre games and exercises.

No previous experience is necessary, but an interest in theatre and a motivation to empower and inspire young people is a must. Apply at voluntarywork.org.uk today.

Get involved:

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