Volunteering in Hampshire - what you can do to help
PUBLISHED: 17:16 13 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:16 13 April 2015
Can you spare just one day a month to do something selfless? Hampshire has hundreds of volunteering projects: from helping out at a homeless shelter; to growing veg in the grounds of a grand stately home. Natalie French finds out more about some of the organisations that need your help
WINCHESTER CHURCHES NIGHTSHELTER (WCNS)
“Volunteers are truly the lifeblood of the Nightshelter,” says Hannah Gurnham from WCNS, “Without our dedicated and caring team of over 200 volunteers, who donate not only their time but valuable skills and resources too, we could not help the hundreds of homeless people we do every year. Our volunteers also save us a huge amount each year - around £55,000 - money that we can put into other valuable resources and services for the homeless,” explains Hannah.
What can I do?
WCNS have a wide range of volunteering opportunities: “Whether it’s a professional skill, such as acupuncture, hairdressing or IT, or just simply lending their time to help out with some basic tasks around the Nightshelter - like washing up, making tea, admin, or just having a chat with our residents,” says Hannah. “Shifts are available during the day, evening and even overnight. Some of which don’t even require the volunteer to come into the Nightshelter - cooking a meal for our residents at home, for example.
“Our evening volunteers, who help between 6pm and 9pm each night, make it possible for us to open our doors. They provide back-up and support to our staff members and without them, the Nightshelter literally could not open.”
“Anyone who is friendly, open-minded and non-judgemental is welcome to volunteer at the Nightshelter,” says Hannah. “It doesn’t matter if they have no previous experience of working with the homeless, as all volunteers complete a taster session and are given induction training; and there will always be a staff member present.
“A willingness to get stuck-in with a range of tasks also helps. It’s a great opportunity to do something worthwhile and help some of Hampshire’s most vulnerable people get their lives back on track.”
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Email email@example.com or call 01962 862050; www.wcns.org.uk/volunteer
HART WILDLIFE RESCUE
HART Wildlife Rescue takes in a wide variety of native species, but the animal with the highest admissions is the trusty hedgehog: “Last year we took in about 450,” says Hospital Manager, Charmian Greenland-Jones, “We currently have about 40 on site and a further 65 are being fostered by volunteers.”
Although wildlife rehabilitation does have its fair share of highs and lows Charmian explains: “The survival rate of animals reflects the fact that many casualties that are brought into us are very sick or badly injured, and have to be put to sleep quickly or die within 24 hours. It can be even more distressing when a youngster you have cared for over several weeks dies unexpectedly. However, there is an immense sense of achievement you feel watching an orphaned baby grow up into a healthy juvenile that is fit to return to the wild; knowing that without your help and intervention it would never have survived is what makes the job worthwhile.”
What can I do?
One of the main volunteering roles is that of the Animal Carer. “At its simplest it involves cleaning and feeding casualties, so anyone who is thinking about volunteering needs to be aware that it can be hard physical work and there are lots of messy jobs that have to be done,” says Charmian. “The spring and summer are the busiest months as the hospital becomes inundated with baby animals. The majority of the youngsters we take in are birds, particularly blackbirds and tits of various species, and these need to be hand fed at least every hour from 7am till late; if it’s light outside the babies need feeding!”
“Feeding baby mammals requires a slightly higher level of skill and training, but we have volunteers who not only work in the hospital but who also act as foster parents or babysit overnight. This role is not only rewarding but also provides massive support to the hospital staff, with whom the responsibility for overnight care will ultimately rest unless external help can be obtained.”
HART also need dedicated people to look after the charity itself and are currently seeking volunteers with experience in Office Administration, Grant Applications, Fundraisers and someone who can take on the role of Newspaper Editor. Volunteers will need to commit to four hours a week upwards.
Sign me up
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how you can help.
THE NATIONAL TRUST
As volunteer jobs go, the National Trust properties get top marks for location. Hampshire is lucky to boast a few beauties, including: The Vyne in Sherborne St. John; Hinton Ampner, near Alresford and Mottisfont, near Romsey - all of which welcome volunteers! Where else could outdoor lovers spend their spare hours in the shadow of a tudor mansion, helping to maintaining 13 acres of glorious gardens?
What can I do?
According to Lynn Willmott, from the Central Volunteering Team, Mottisfont has 27 different types of volunteering roles, some of them working as part of a team, and some specialised roles that suit particular skills.
“At the moment we are looking for additional house guides as we open more rooms in the house, and outdoor guides because the walks and talks they provide are so popular,” says Lynn. “As we increase our catering outlets, we will need extra hands helping to bake cakes. We are also increasing the number of volunteers who help in the shop, the bookshop and at our visitor reception. Not forgetting our need for more people to help with the flower arranging. These are just a few of the opportunities at the house and gardens itself; we also need help with our conservation projects throughout the Test Valley and the New Forest.”
“Here at Mottisfont we pride ourselves on making our volunteers feel part of one big community,” says Lynn. “One of the volunteers recently told me that it’s like being part of a family, and that makes me feel good. We don’t try and fit round pegs into square holes; we try and find out what your interests are, what do you like doing and what you are passionate about? If we can, we try and find a role that might suit those interests.”
Everybody is welcome, whether you can offer half a day a week, or one day per fortnight. Or perhaps you are free just for the summer? “All you need to bring is a happy face and a few bags of enthusiasm,” says Lynn. “We’re a friendly bunch and welcome all ages.”
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Helping.mottisfont.@nationaltrust.org.uk or email@example.com, 01794 344039
TRUSSELL TRUST FOODBANKS
It’s a shocking truth that 3 million people live below the poverty line in the UK. People are going hungry for a number of reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an expected bill on a low income. Last year, the eight Trussell Trust foodbanks in Hampshire alone (Alton; Andover; Basingstoke; Farnborough; Hart; Portsmouth; Ringwood and Waterside) provided three days of emergency food to 22,655 people in crisis - 8169 of these were children.
What can I do?
There are a number of different volunteer roles within the foodbanks - whether you work in the warehouse sorting donated food ready for distribution; or within the foodbank centre welcoming clients over a cup of tea. You could help to raise awareness at a local supermarket collection, take part in the bi-annual national Neighbourhood Food Collection or help the foodbank’s management team with a whole host of administrative tasks.
“Generally, anyone with a desire to help stop hunger in their local community would be a suitable candidate!” says Emma Thorogood from the Trussell Trust. The Trust always advise people to get in touch with their local foodbank to discuss what they can do, as Emma explains: “Individual foodbanks have volunteer roles specific to their needs and projects, for example we have volunteers who deal specifically with PR, and others who focus on the website.”
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Visit www.trusselltrust.org to find out more
BRITISH HEN WELFARE TRUST (BHWT)
Volunteers are vital to the British Hen Welfare Trust, who re-homed close to 40,000 commercial laying hens in 2013. Locally, Hampshire has its own branch who are always looking for an extra pair of hands.
“It’s incredibly rewarding work because no matter what your role, or how long the day, or dirty and tired you get, nothing beats the warm and cosy glow you feel knowing that you have helped hundreds of hens onto a happy, free range retirement,” says Katy Wooff from BHWT.
What can I do?
Volunteers can get involved in all aspects of helping hens explains Katy, “whether that be taking part in their collection from farms – which is hard work, but deeply satisfying; dealing with the admin involved with re-homers when they arrive to adopt their hens; catching and seeing the hens off to their new homes or hosing and disinfecting crates.
“In terms of time commitment, hen collection days can be long, as it usually involves early starts at farms; however some volunteers choose to be involved for only part of the day. Whatever you do on a hen collection day – you’re always guaranteed a huge feel-good factor at the end.”
“We have an amazingly eclectic group of volunteers coming from all walks of life; but our volunteer work would suit anyone who has a love of hens and a certain level of fitness (if you want to be hands-on).”
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Please contact Gaynor Davies, Head of Operations at Hen Central on 01884 860084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org