Sue a volunteer with Read Easy Northampton

Sue is an Adult Reading Coach Volunteer with Read Easy Northampton. There are too many adults who experience difficulties with reading or can’t read at all. Read Easy offers one to one coaching completely free of charge. We use a set of 5 manuals with various other reading material and resources – It is wonderful to see a Reader’s confidence grow when they realise that they CAN read.

To find out more about Read Easy Northampton and how you can get involved please visit their website

Mike a volunteer with autism service En-Fold

A few extremely important volunteers helped support me through the most difficult part of my life and have helped me steer it in a more positive direction. I feel like I am actually living for the first time in a long time and it is largely down to influence and support of these volunteers.

I’ve lived the benefits and positive impact volunteers have had on my life and it’s given me the drive and motivation to be able to do this for other people.

To learn more about En-Fold Northamptonshire Autism Service visit their website

Chris a volunteer at Nene Valley Way

I volunteered to help with the pathway audit because I have always used the Nene Way for walking or accessing the River Nene. Due to being furloughed from my job over lockdown, I thought it was great to not only help with the upkeep of the pathway and its use but also aid me in my own mental health. Keeping me active and outside.

I have always been a very active and outdoor type so to be kept indoors has been very difficult. This allowed me to be outside in the countryside and also not have any Covid issues with social distancing as was probably the only person on the pathway in all weathers.

Sheila a volunteer at Age UK Northamptonshire

I have only recently started to volunteer with Age UK Northamptonshire, telephone befriending and I hope to commence with walking befriending soon. Before Covid, I sang in care homes voluntarily of my own volition. This I found extremely rewarding. I hope that I am able to go back to singing for them again this year.

John a volunteer at a community farm

I started volunteering after walking away from a well-paid but extremely boring and mind-killing job. I was disillusioned, with life, suffering from low self-esteem and lack of confidence, depressed, and emotionally burnt out.

I needed somewhere that could offer me time and space to find who I am, grow without the pressures of the rat race, and also provide gentle and positive encouragement to learn new skills in a safe nurturing environment and be able to finally prove to myself that I am not the failure I have always believed and felt I am.

For me, volunteering at Sol Haven has ticked all those boxes and so much more. I’m learning new skills I never dreamed I would even attempt to try, let alone do quite well, have met many wonderful and interesting people, I love my days when volunteering and life finally feels worth getting out of bed for.

Darren and Felix Volunteers at SCCYC

During the pandemic, we as a family have coped pretty well but were conscious that there were people really struggling. My son Felix is 18 and I wanted to show him the value of providing your own time for the benefit of others and nothing else. We do not have a great deal of time, but we manage to do deliveries of food parcels on a Saturday morning, and Felix then goes to work at Waitrose for 8 hours! Felix is learning to drive so this is also providing some much-needed experience behind the wheel and trying to follow the satnav! The sense of pride we both feel when we receive appreciation from recipients, and to know we are helping those less fortunate is a good feeling, but also makes us aware that we could do more.

Hope Centre path from volunteering to employment

The Northampton Hope Centre is a local charity which welcomes people who are homeless, disadvantaged or vulnerable whatever their reasons and circumstances might be. The centre is based at Oasis House, near Northampton town centre and is well known throughout the local area. The centre looks after around 100 people each day and records over 20,000 visits per year with over 1000 clients.

The centre is managed by a mix of paid employees and volunteers who all passionately believe in what they do and take great pride and pleasure in looking after the Hope Centre’s community. One of their aims is to see people develop, move on and rebuild their lives. With education, training and development they help them to get jobs, move into their own homes and become positive and progressive citizens.

The Hope Centre has around 80 volunteers helping to keep the centre running. The volunteers come from a mixture of backgrounds from the Hope Centre’s clients, to business professionals who volunteer their time as trustees, to individuals wanting to volunteer as part of their faith. As part of their commitment to volunteering the centre has Lottery funding for three years to support clients to volunteer and through mentoring and training they hope for them to go on to paid employment.

The volunteering roles at the Hope Centre include working on the reception desk, befriending, working in the kitchen, cleaning, leading workshops and fund raising. Volunteers who are also clients of the centre enjoy it as they are doing something worthwhile with their time and giving something back to the service they have used themselves. Equally, volunteering roles help the client by removing some of the pressure that would come from paid employment. Sarah Passam, Volunteer Co-ordinator said “Some people have forgotten what they are capable of and have particularly low self-esteem, but through volunteering they are able to find something that they are good at.”

The Hope Centre offers a variety of different courses and training to assist its clients and volunteers, helping individuals to boost their employability and give them an opportunity to be part of a team. Some of the centre’s volunteers have gone onto become employees of the centre. These individuals include university placement students and clients of the Hope Centre.

Kataryna, previously a client of the Hope Centre volunteered as a cleaner for some time. When a vacancy arose with TLC, the cleaning company employed by Midland Heart to clean Oasis House, she applied for the role and was successful.

Brinley, a regular client at the centre volunteered on the reception desk at Oasis House and has since moved on and been employed by Hope Enterprises in their workshop. He is now qualified as a PAT tester.

Another of the Hope Centre’s success stories is Rachael who joined as a volunteer befriender; she was so good at her volunteer role that when the job of volunteer admin assistant was advertised she applied and was the successful candidate settling in quickly to her new role.

Julia is a client at the Hope Centre and was spotted by Sarah, the centre’s volunteer co-ordinator. Julia seemed to have great potential and Sarah encouraged her to volunteer as a befriender. To begin with Julia was sceptical as she was feeling as if she was “bottom of the pile and useless”. After trying it out she found that she actually quite enjoyed it and befriending other clients kept her busy. She enjoyed being part of a group that made her feel useful and needed. By becoming a volunteer befriender she is able to help other clients who want to talk. People trust her to speak to about private matters and in turn it makes Julia feel worthwhile and gives her a ‘buzz’ as well as feeling like she has made a difference.

While volunteering Julia has completed a number of training courses including food hygiene which not only has she enjoyed learning but she can use in the future. Following on from this volunteering role Julia has been employed at Hope Enterprises. Additionally, she helps out the Hope Centre by raising public awareness through  talks at schools to explain what homelessness is really like, a role which brings her a great deal of satisfaction.

Future plans

Sarah has lots of exciting plans for volunteering and encouraging clients of the Hope Centre into volunteering. She has made links with the local fire station and car garage with the idea of being able to offer individuals work-experience volunteering. She is also exploring working with a nearby Hilton hotel to establish a kitchen work experience programme for Hope Centre clients.

The Hope Centre’s programme of volunteering and moving many of its volunteers into paid employment is quite unique: to date the centre has employed 11 of its volunteers. They also recognise that for some clients paid employment will not work at that particular time in their life and for them volunteering is an excellent option. But for most who are lacking in self-worth and some basic skills, volunteering is an excellent stepping stone into work.

Roger Pratten, car scheme volunteer

Roger, 62, has been a volunteer driver for nearly 12 years with Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme. The Scheme which transports elderly or vulnerable people to their medical appointments, is supported by the hard work of volunteers, but Roger has proven dedicated above and beyond the call of duty.

Roger, a former lorry driver, became acquainted with the car scheme when he underwent a life-threatening kidney and heart transplant. During his recovery he used the service to attend follow up appointments.

As a result of the transplants he was unable to return to his job and decided to give something back to the scheme which helped him back onto the road to recovery.

He commits to driving four days a week and is the only driver to volunteer his services to patients needing to attend appointments further afield, including London and Birmingham – last year alone he drove patients to 622 appointments tallying over 8,500 miles! Without the scheme patients simply wouldn’t be able to attend their appointments and drivers are often referred to as ‘lifesavers’. Roger makes them feel like someone cares.

He acts as an invaluable source of reassurance for patients who are going through similar challenges to their health, something not many volunteers can provide. Even further, he acts as a friend and moral support for people who feel isolated or fearful by waiting with them.

His tireless effort and enthusiasm is an inspiration for new drivers as he teaches them the ropes. Roger takes his role to a new level and relays vital information he picks up about health services to office staff and highlights serious problems that a patient shares with him.

Roger said “I’m so proud that the car scheme has faith and trust in me to help the people of Northampton to get to their doctors and hospital appointments. I love what I do, it brightens up my day to be able to help.”