Dot Dot Do It

April 5, 2016

It’s not just our guardians who choose to volunteer. This is what staff member Sophie has to say about her time volunteering in Calais: 

Calais 3‘Over the bank holiday weekend, I joined the hordes of people queuing at Dover ferry port to leave England. Unlike the families with cars full of picnics or young people looking for some sun, I was determined for this not to be a restful break, but a productive one.

Ever since the body of three year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey, I have watched the refugee crisis intently, and have been horrified by the conditions that people are living in. At the end of March I decided to do something and joined the masses of volunteers going to sort and pack donations in storage warehouses in Northern France.

There are a variety of grassroots organisation such as Help Refugees and Care 4 Calais who are tirelessly working to distribute donated items such as clothes, toiletries and kitchen equipment to refugees.

Calais 1The warehouse seemed like a different world to me. The boxes, mountains of donations and high-vis jackets are a world apart from our Dot Dot Dot office.  I spent the first two days of the bank holiday sizing clothes donations, creating hygiene packs, folding tents and carrying mattresses.

As a volunteer, I quickly grew used to the pattern of life in the warehouse – packing and sorting until my hands were sore and only stopping for a delicious vegetarian lunch. I was told that volunteer turnover was astoundingly fast, and experienced this myself, with a whole variety of new and exciting people to talk to each day as I worked.

Calais 2On my third and final day in Calais, I ventured into The Jungle as part of a litter picking team. Having heard about the area for months, it was still shocking to finally see it with my own eyes, especially after the partial dismantling that has occurred in recent weeks. The image that has stuck with me was the phrase ‘Free Doom’ written on the side of one of the makeshift shelters. Despite what they’ve been through, the refugees were in good spirits – laughing and joining in with our litter picking and celebrating the cricket score.

Despite arriving home on Sunday evening emotionally and physically drained, my time in Calais was very worthwhile. If you are thinking about going out there, I know that Help Refugees would appreciate any volunteers.’

(Credit to Nic Schlagman for the photos)

This week’s top five volunteering opportunities

February 19, 2016

1. Clean for the QueenClean for the queen1

Where: Victoria Park
When: Saturday 5th March
Commitment Level: Low (2-3 hour session)

A new initiative from Keep Britain Tidy, Clean for the Queen aims to mark the Queen’s 90th Birthday by raising awareness to dog walkers about cleaning up after their dogs. The would like volunteers to come and spread the word on Saturday 5th March. For more information and to register your interest, please email or call 0207 364 4504.


2. United Rescues                                                                                                            

United RescuesWhere: Anywhere
When:  Flexible  
Commitment Level: Low

This opportunity involves taking the distress calls from migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean and directing them to the right authorities and translators. Those interested should get in touch on the facebook group.


3. Chance UK – Volunteer MentorChance uk

Where: Enfield, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Waltham Forest and Westminster
When:  Flexible
Commitment Level: Medium – Regular Commitment

Chance UK are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to mentor 5-11 year olds with behavioural difficulties. The mentor will help the young person to develop social skills and confidence in order to deal with difficulties. They provide full training and support. For more information visit the Chance UK Website or call 020 7281 5858.


4. Bucks Floating Support – Homeless Outreach Volunteer

Bucks Floating SupportWhere: High Wycombe
When:  6am Monday to Friday
Commitment Level: Low – no regular commitment required

Bucks Floating Support are looking for volunteers to accompany outreach workers to find people who are sleeping rough.  They will then take the details of people found sleeping rough, with a view to finding them emergency accommodation. If you are interested in this role follow this link.


5. Little Explorers Leader

Where: Morden Hall Parknational trust
When:  Monday Afternoons
Commitment Level: Regular Commitment

Little Explorers Leaders work with young children, under the age of 5, to run weekly activities which include storytelling, art and singing. This happens at Morden Hall Park which is a haven for wildlife in South London, and will help bring the park to life for the children. For more information about the role, see here.



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