Volunteering with Neighbours in Poplar
I recently got to know and work with a local volunteer-led organisation called Neighbours in Poplar (NIP).
NIP works out of St. Matthias Church, the oldest building in Docklands, built in the 1650s. The church and its congregation – congregation in a people sense, not religious, as worship doesn’t take place there anymore – survived the English Civil War and the Blitz, but I wonder if it will make it past 21st Century regeneration surrounding it at the moment, I hope so.
NIP was established in 1969, so their base has a few years on them, but considering a transient population and the day-to-day challenge of keeping resourced, it does really well. I think the users, volunteers and staff would agree it’s the people that keep it going.
I got to know NIP through helping out at a regular Jumble Sale that brings together hundreds of people, and even more knick-knacks, for a frenzy of bargain dealing, interspersed with gentler nattering over tea and biscuits. It’s an eye opener and a lot of fun with some big characters. Other activities include health days, a befriending service, dinner dances, bingo, coffee mornings, a winter night shelter, excursions, summer outings for young people, among others; how they fit it all in I don’t know!
NIP is as local as its gets. Every week hundreds of residents make use of and contribute to its services. In bringing people together and providing support and care for local, particularly some older more vulnerable people, it tackles isolation and builds friendships. NIP is as important as it gets.