Our story so far
Family Volunteering Club was created in 2019 by me - mum of one, Maddy (nice to meet you!). I used to do volunteer work in my free time but (like many others) found that after having my child, the opportunities to continue were incredibly limited - places just weren't set up for it, so I had to stop and felt a bit lost, not being able to contribute back to my local community in the same way. After speaking to lots of parents / carers they felt the same, and so I decided to work with some brilliant charities local to arrange some pilot volunteering sessions specially designed for for kids and their grown ups.
In Autumn 2019 we piloted this programme of family volunteering sessions in London - and it was great fun! Sessions were created and run with the London Transport Museum, Draper Together, Bankside Open Spaces Trust, Ronald McDonald House, Waterloo Foodbank, Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre and the Garden Museum, creating over 116 new volunteering opportunities suitable for kids to do with their grown ups and welcoming over 40 amazing families (plus a lovely nursery group!)
We had some wonderful feedback from the families who have taken part - here's what people have said about why they loved the sessions:
“Exposing my child to gardening - something we can’t do in our London flat! And spending time with other local parents doing something fun.”
“Interactive, well run, friendly organisers, meeting other local families with children the same age, the activity, safe space for kids, feeling of helping the community.”
“I loved the freedom of being able to do as much as you could, whilst having your children there.”
The pilot was a huge success, and interest in the project grew. We secured seed funding from the wonderful team at Marks & Spencer who share our vision for its potential to become a national programme which enables children and their grown ups from across the UK, to have fun volunteering together in their local community. Shortly after, Comic Relief awarded us a grant to roll out a programme for under 5s in Lambeth and Southwark. Great stuff! But then the pandemic arrived and we had to change our plans. You can read on our news pages about the joyous remote art and music programme we delivered instead, with children from Coin St Nursery and MySocial, part of Age UK Lambeth to reach isolated older people during the pandemic. Our in-person sessions re-started in June 2021 - you can read on our news page how the summer went (spoiler alert - it was amazing!) and we are now busy planning for a burst of activity in Winter 2021, as well as programmes in London and beyond in 2022.
We have big plans. As we start to deliver the programmes outside of London in 2022, we are working towards Family Volunteering Club becoming a national programme, with clubs across the UK run by local coordinators, supporting their local causes. We want it to be easy, and part and parcel of family time (just as arranging a swimming or football lesson!) to spend perhaps a few hours each month volunteering together for a local cause. The sessions will always guarantee fun, a positive impact and be entirely geared up for kids.
We are keen to link up with people from across the UK who might be interested in setting a club up in their area, and businesses who would like to support this project to grow - do get in touch!