Published on
04 June 2021

Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thank you to the people throughout the UK who contribute their time and energy to help their communities.

It has been a difficult year for everyone, and our volunteers have continued to give their time and make a huge difference in their communities – just as they do every year. In 2019-20, we were lucky enough to have around 14,000 people volunteer with us every month, giving us over 2.2 million hours of their time. 87% of volunteers said they received support and encouragement from colleagues, and 85% said they felt they made a difference by volunteering with Barnardo’s.

During the lockdown period, our Children’s Services volunteers created activity packs, helped with remote sessions, delivered welfare packs to families, completed outdoor walking sessions and a couple of volunteers also helped on the Boloh helpline for BAME families.

At Barnardo’s, we have volunteers from all walks of life, performing a huge variety of essential tasks: from helping customers in our retail shops, to supporting families in our frontline children’s services, to planting flowers in our outdoor spaces. To highlight the amazing contribution of our volunteers, we asked them about their experiences supporting their communities, how their volunteering work fits into their lives, and why they chose to volunteer with Barnardo’s.

Children’s Centre Activity Support Volunteer

“I’m Marian, and I’m a Children’s Centre Activity Support Volunteer. I used to teach Modern Languages but in 2010 I took early retirement and moved to Hertfordshire to help my daughter with childcare. At first, I felt very isolated, I didn't know anyone except the young mothers in the mother and baby clubs. They were warm and welcoming, but I did feel like a fish out of water. My lifelines were the Grandparent and Toddler group and French and German speaking groups.

As my grandchildren grew up, I have been able to use my skills volunteer for Barnardo's Children’s Centres in Hertfordshire. During the pandemic I helped by assembling holiday craft packs for children.

Volunteering has given me so much pleasure - it's added interest and challenge to my life: planning sessions, talking to new people, using simple, practical skills and my professional knowledge of teaching.

Marian

I have made friends with other volunteers, and I am never bored. I have been met with a great deal of kindness and friendship; it is very empowering to be able to return this goodwill. Volunteering keeps me young!”

Dads’ Group Volunteer

“I’m Gavin, and I work as a lecturer teaching computer game animation.

I wanted to attend a stay-and-play group for Dads with my own child – but there weren’t any, so I was keen to help set one up. I also thought it might be a good opportunity to meet other dads in a new area I had moved to. I spoke with one of the staff at the local children’s centres, and they put me in touch with the Barnardo’s team.

I have been volunteering now for around 4 years, helping to organise/run the Saturdads group in Rugby, including setting up before sessions, welcoming the dads and helping them to feel welcome.

The best bits are organising the group alongside my child, who also volunteers with me, and meeting all the other Dads. We provide somewhere that dads can spend quality time with their kids and help to normalise the idea that being a caring parent is not just for the mums. The support we get from the Barnardo’s team is great and makes us feel really appreciated.”

Breastfeeding Volunteer

“I’m Elsa, I have 2 children a year apart. I chose to volunteer because I had a rubbish time and no support whilst trying to breastfeed my oldest, and I really grieved not succeeding for a long time. I was much more informed and supported when I had my second child, and it made such a difference to our breastfeeding journey. So, I’d like to help new mums who might be struggling to meet their breastfeeding goals and avoid feeling the way I did first time round.”

For anyone considering volunteering I would suggest just going for it, it feels good to help people who need the support, you can meet some really great people and it’s great for your CV for future roles too!

Elsa

Mentor Volunteer

“I’m Meggan and I am 21 years old. I come from a small town in the North East of England, and I currently work full time as a waitress. I have been volunteering on and off since I was 18 and I have always been passionate about it - helping people is something I want to do in my future career.

In 2019 I volunteered with a government-funded agency called the International Citizenship Service and did other volunteering with food banks in my local area.

I have personal experience with the strain of modern-day poverty and have faced many family difficulties. This has influenced me to want to help others cope with the difficult aspects of life like poverty and addiction, and to prevent further struggle for the children of the future.

Volunteering for Barnardo’s will open doors within the sector of work I want to progress in, and I feel so privileged to be given this opportunity. I want to learn new skills on how to fully support families and individuals who are on an arduous journey of their lives and help get them feeling happy, content and on a less strenuous path.”

Gardening Volunteer

“My name is John and I have a background in music and publicity. I decided to volunteer with Barnardo’s as my father always supported Dr Barnardo’s (as it was then) and this is a nice way to remember him.

I am a Gardening Volunteer at the Stratford Children and Family Centre. I enjoy gardening and the open air and the staff there are very welcoming and appreciative.

Three words that summarise my experience of volunteering are: Fulfilling, Invigorating and Worthwhile!”

Parent Champion Volunteer

“I am Catherine, and I am 45. I live in Warwick and work as a primary school teacher. I decided to volunteer with Barnardo’s to see and support parents from a different perspective and give back something to others in an area I am interested in.

I have been volunteering for almost a year and a half as a Parent Champion Volunteer, helping parents to find the services available to them that will provide support - whether that’s a financial worry, support with a child up to 19, Special Education Needs (SEN) specifics and difficulties resulting from financial or family stresses.

I enjoy the sense of community with other volunteers and the honest & authenticity of the group-whether that means a giggle or the sharing of sadness.

Catherine

My top tips for anyone wanting to become a volunteer are that its ok to have a go, be yourself and take it step by step – it can work both ways and grow as you find your feet.”

Retail Volunteer

"I’m Lee and I volunteer at the Gorleston Mag Barnardo’s store.

I joined Barnardo’s as a volunteer to get back into work, to get my confidence back up, to learn new things and to socialise with the local community and meet new people. I had been out of work for about 10 years, and Barnardo’s gave me the perfect opportunity to get back into work. I loved every minute of volunteering for Barnardo’s.

It’s been a wonderful experience and I still volunteer for 2 days a week and I also work elsewhere another 2 days of the week.

I would recommend volunteering for Barnardo’s, it’s helped me a lot and it’s like having a second family, always there to help each other out and the customers too.”