National Volunteers Week 2018
This week 4-8 June 2018 is National Volunteers Week so we are running a daily focus on some of the volunteers who work tirelessly to benefit Swan's residents and our communities. We are reliant on the continued hard work of many unpaid volunteers so we are proud to highlight their work this week.
SWAN & AXIS - WORKING TOGETHER
Two weeks ago a number of Swan and Axis staff volunteered to give up their Saturday to renovate the garden at Dobsons House, an extra care facility in Rayleigh. The voluntary action day was organised after a chance conversation between Pearl (a resident of Dobsons House and a member of Swan's Essex RCC) and Nicholas Kyprianou, Swan's Head of Property Services.
Pearl mentioned that the garden at Dobsons House was looking unloved and in need of a make-over. Nicholas agreed to see what he could do to help. He worked with Axis to arrange some timber planters with seats so that they could re-invigorate a dark looking drying area into a new open light airy seating area. He also arranged to clean the dirty and slippery paths around the site.
A team of volunteers from Swan and Axis assembled at Dobsons House on one of the hottest days of the year to transform the garden. They battled the heat and clouds of gnats and worked through the day to provide four disabled access timber planters, a new gazebo and paths which are now safe for the residents to walk on.
Axis, Swan's repairs partner, provided the materials and three of Axis's staff even worked until 6pm to ensure the work was finished. The group of volunteers worked throughout the day, moving four tons of soil and three tons of gravel into existing planted areas throughout the garden.
Later this year, Swan's Resident Involvement and Community Development team have already volunteered to paint the gazebo and they promise to report back on the progress of the plants and vegetables.
Carol is a dedicated volunteer who has been involved with Swan for ten years and her local community for much longer. She received the 'Inspirational Role Model Award' at the Basildon Community Volunteer awards in 2016, was shortlisted for Tenant of the Year award at the TPAS awards this year. She is the current Chair of Swan's Essex Resident Consultative Committee (RCC) and is a dedicated and tireless volunteer.
Ten years ago Carol was instrumental in reviving her local Community Centre in Steeple View. She worked tirelessly to secure funding from Essex County Council and Basildon Borough Council and used it to transform her local Community Centre into a thriving community hub which is used by a multitude of local groups spanning all ages and cultures.
Carol's voluntary work has had a positive impact on both the old and young members of her community. She was instrumental in setting up a centre where young people can work towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award and, today, the group she founded has grown to be the largest in Essex and the young people who attend achieved 28 gold awards in 2017 - the largest number of any group in the county!
Steeple View's successful Kitchen Project is another project that Carol has masterminded in partnership with the local Church. The Kitchen Project uses the Steepleview Community Centre as its base. It is a meeting place for residents aged 50 and over where they can meet, socialise and have a hot lunch, all for just £3! These lunches help to tackle isolation within the community and Carol personally ensures people are able to attend - she always attends the sessions herself so remains a trusted and recognised face within her local community. More recently this project has been expanded to include Afternoon Tea so that residents have somewhere they can go to catch up with friends over a cup of tea.
Carol has also recently campaigned for the neglected children's play area on Steepleview to be renovated. For three years she petitioned local residents and councillors and she was thrilled when the area was restored and new equipment installed last year. She is now working to ensure there is somewhere safe and secure for older children in her local community to play.
Dave is a member of Swan's Estate Services team. Like many of Swan's Estate Services team he is always quick to volunteer to help when needed but it is his voluntary fundraising efforts which regularly see him going the extra mile. In his Estate Services role he occasionally comes across scrap metal objects that have been dumped.
For many years Dave has collected this metal and taken it to a scrapyard where the scrap is turned into money. Today, all of the Estate Services team work with him - they let him know where they've seen scrap metal dumped on Swan's estates so that he can collect it or they collect it and take it to a central location where Dave picks it up.
Dave pays regular visits to the scrapyard with the discarded items and the money he receives for the scrap is held on account. At the end of the year Dave donates the money made from collecting scrap to the Estate Services charity of the year. For the last two years he has raised over £500 and, so far this year, he has raised £180.
Dave's scrap metal scheme recycles essential resources, helps to keeps Swan's estates tidy and raises money for good causes. It also demonstrates how voluntary work can have a positive impact without taking up lots of time!
Hollie used to live at Swan House Foyer. She was recently named as the TPAS Young Tenant of the Year for the Southern Region and is on her way to the national TPAS finals in July!
Hollie is a true inspiration and proof of how life changing volunteering and engaging with her landlord and support workers can be. Her success story is also testament to her hard work and sheer dedication. She was just seventeen when she became a Foyer resident and she quickly engaged with the full programme of support offered there.
She quickly discovered that she has a previously unrecognised talent for maths and budgeting and Swan's Foyer Team encouraged her to volunteer to help with the budgeting sessions they offer for young residents. Hollie soon developed the skills and confidence to run these sessions and became a valuable asset to Swan's team because she is an inspiring and credible advocate for the advice she delivers.
Hollie lives elsewhere now but she continues to volunteer at the Foyers twice a week. She is aiming to become a Financial Advisor for young people and continues to volunteer to help her achieve this goal.
Stella is one of our Forest Gate residents. She has spent a lifetime volunteering and championing her local community - her voluntary service was recognised back in 2005 when she was awarded 'Citizen of the Year' by the Mayor of Newham and she has continued to be a selfless community champion partnering with everyone who can help her to make her neighbourhood a better and safer place for everyone. She has been involved with Swan for over 20 years, first through the Chatsworth Residents' Association (which she continues to be involved with) and, more recently as a member, and now Chair of the London Residents' Consultative Committee (RCC).
We recently caught up with Stella at the St. George's Day lunch. She organises this event every year at a Support Housing scheme in Forest Gate. It is an annual highlight for many of the local residents, funded by a Swan Community Grant. Stella spends most of the event in the kitchen where she dishes up countless plates of the traditional East End favourite - Pie & Mash. She ensures no-one is left out and personally delivers a plateful of food to anyone who is unable to come along.
In addition to Chairing Swan's London RCC Stella also organises regular coffee mornings, bake sales and other events which raise money for charities such as the Stroke Foundation, Macmillan Cancer, Guide Dogs for Blind and Ovarian Cancer. Her coffee mornings help to combat loneliness and social isolation often experienced by older residents who live in her neighbourhood. Stella also arranges regular days out and coach trips for both children and older people. These events enable them to share fun experiences with their friends and family.