How can I volunteer in my local area?

‘I started volunteering las summer, motivated by a desire to share my learnings from recovering from mental ill health and promote the restorative power of creativity.’

Group of women at a table making textiles and chatting

There are so many ways to volunteer locally – from online volunteering to one-off events, outdoor volunteering, and skills-based volunteering. We spoke to one of our volunteers, Helen, who runs creative textile groups in GP surgeries in Hackney. Here’s her story:

Volunteering with Together Better

I started volunteering with Volunteer Centre Hackney’s Together Better service last summer, motivated by a desire to share my learnings from recovering from mental ill health and promote the restorative power of creativity as part of the process. Before volunteering I felt lonelier after the changes to the structure of our work and social life as a result of the pandemic, and volunteering has definitely helped with feeling more connected to my local community.

Volunteering and mental health

My motivation follows a long British tradition of women’s circles, which is sometimes overlooked. Typically, these circles convened around wanting to share experiences and become an extension of their support system in the local community. Crafting was used as a soothing balm for challenging times. Our circle is centred around craft and mental-wellbeing and is a way to meet regularly with other women and talk about our lives whilst also developing creative skills.

In today’s fast paced and increasingly digital world, to meet twice a month and to get to know the other women and their stories over our craft project feels precious and something we all look forward to. Until recently, I have worked as a fashion and textile lecturer and am an entrepreneur. Volunteering in this way felt like a natural extension of my work and a way to engage my local community in creative projects and meet new people. 

My volunteering

Typically, we spend a few months on one project, developing a set of handicraft skills with the aim that the members can go on to create more pieces to fill their houses and spaces with colour. Sustainability is a philosophy I try to consider within my own practice, so that naturally was incorporated into the aim of the crafting.

Our first project was cushion making and I contacted the sustainable fabric company Haines, who kindly donated fabric. Also, I sourced some fabric from Yodomo, the circular recycling hub at Hackney City Farm. The next project we are planning to work on is creating a mural for the new GP surgery.

What I like about volunteering

I love getting to know people’s narratives and life stories and sharing the love of this type of textile creativity.

Get involved

Want to find out how you can volunteer locally? Click on one of the options below to get started.

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