Spotlight on Sam: property guardianship in Thamesmead

June 12, 2015

Since joining Dot Dot Dot in January, Sam has already volunteered over 48 hours for local projects around Thamesmead…

“Property guardian? Stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” This comment from a neighbour at my first Sam1     residents’ meeting brought me right down to earth. Perhaps more humbling was the man under the impression I was a homeless person being forced to volunteer for 16 hours a month in exchange for a roof over my head. This was not the red carpet welcome of which I had entertained occasional fantasies.

But despite the occasional scepticism of others I remain convinced that property guardians can be a hugely positive force. Being labelled a ‘guardian’ means people come to you for help, and in turn you are more likely to offer it. After said meeting I helped a neighbour pull down an intimidating old black tent from a fence that near her flat in an isolated part of the block. In turn she pointed out a discarded clothes drying rack that I am still using. Quid pro quo.

It sometimes feels tough being in exile from your comfort zone.  One day after coming back from work I got a knock on the door from a neighbour who had latched on to the ‘guardian’ aspect and asked me to have a word with some boys playing outside ­- kicking the ball up in the air over and over again near a row of parked cars. Though tempted to weasel out of it my conscience kicked in and I assured her I would indeed have a word.

Marching outdoors I realised this was a terrible error. Teenage boys tend not to cower in my wake. Who was I kidding? But turning the corner, to my relief the boys were walking off of their own volition. I did consider going back to my neighbour and taking credit for it until, yet again, my conscience intervened.

Sam2
Sam often does some litter picking around the lake in Thamesmead.

Volunteering is central to Dot Dot Dot’s property guardianship. Some of my favourite moments in Thamesmead have been with the Early Words Together project run by the National Literacy Trust. This is a national scheme pairing volunteers with families with pre-school children to help them develop literacy early on. For an hour a week, you meet with a family and do craft, stories, songs or whatever will enable them to bring words into a child’s early development.

I admit that fifteen minutes of trying to stop a child pouring glue all over the floor wasn’t quite my dream of coaching three year olds to quote Shelley and Shakespeare. But then, after making a spider with the same child, while getting them to say the colours and shapes of all the craft materials, I started to understand the value of this fantastic project.

I hadn’t done litter picking since getting a week’s lunchtime detention in Year 10 for persistent lateness. In Thamesmead, however I’ve realised that it is a great way to both clear up and explore the local area. You can even combine it with other chores like shopping, though I have to warn you I did nearly take a man’s eye out in Morrison’s with my picker.

I’ve also been able to lend some professional fundraising advice to a local drama group; Cadz Productions. Cadz provide free drama workshops to local residents encouraging confidence, motivation and increasing community participation, and cohesion

Sam3

The Link community centre.

I’ve barely touched upon the immense variety of Thamesmead that includes The Link, a brilliant community centre, the sprawling nature reserve, the horses that pop up everywhere, and the beautiful Southmere Lake. And the bit where A Clockwork Orange was filmed. Getting the chance to be an active participant in such a unique environment is frequently a treat, even when things don’t quite go to plan.”

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

30 January 2015 – This week’s top 5 volunteer opportunities

January 30, 2015

Top 5 London (2)

1. Volunteer receptionists urgently needed, and other roles at Positive East
When: At least one (five- hour) session a week.
Where: Stepney Green

Positive East is the leading HIV charity in East London, providing a range of services for individuals and communities affected by HIV.

Positive East

Working as part of a volunteer team, you’ll be based at Positive East’s office in Stepney, and travel and lunch expenses will be covered.

You need to be able to commit a minimum of one 5-hour session per week for a 6 month period.  All reception volunteers receive additional ‘on the job’ training for this key role.

To find out more about this role and other roles at Positive East visit their website.

2. Join the Camden Green Gym
When: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays 10.45am – 2pm 
Where: Camden’s Local Nature Reserves, Parks and Green Spaces incl. Adelaide Road Local Nature Reserve, London, NW3 3QB

  • Get active in your local green space with the Green Gym inTCV Camden
  • Keep fit while working outdoors and giving back to your local community
  • Discover hidden gems of nature on your doorstep and help increase their use and biodiversity through a range of nature conservation tasks.

Events are run across nature reserves, parks, community gardens, and in partnership with local charities. Have a look at tcv.org.uk for more information.

3. Community Clean With Providence Row
When: Mondays Between 11 and 1. 
Where: The Dellow Centre, 82 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7SAprow

Homeless charity Providence Row helps around 1,200 people a year with advice and support for housing and benefits, and helping vulnerable people with mental health and substance misuse issues.

Unfortunately the alleyway next to their building is in need of some TLC and they are looking for some volunteers to offer two hours 11am and 1pm on Mondays. Find out more about providence row’s volunteering opportunities at providencerow.org.uk

4. Home Library Service Volunteers needed
When: Flexible
Where: Royal Voluntary Service, Maidstone Road, Sidcup, DA14 5HS. Then around Bexley and Thamesmead for visits. make-difference-to-the-lives-of-older-people

RVS needs Volunteers to help the Home Library Service deliver and collect books, DVDs or CDs to older people who may be housebound or have mobility issues. The service provides regular, friendly and social contact for older people. It’s a great opportunity to:

  • make new friends
  • be part of a great team
  • develop skills and experience
  • contribute to the work of the charity by enriching the lives of older people.

Find out more about this opportunity on the RVS website.

5. Sound Advice UK needs a Community Music Event Volunteer sound
When: Sundays
Where: St Peters Crypt, Northchurch Terrace, London N1 4DA.

Sound Advice UK is a community based music and media project created by local media and creative professionals, who organise ‘Acoustic Sundays’ – an exclusive monthly event, run by a team of dedicated volunteers.

This is an ideal opportunity for volunteers with an interest in music and performing arts. Apply on the Team London website.

 

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