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What OneFamily volunteers got up to this summer

October 2023

At OneFamily, giving our communities a helping hand is at the heart of who we are.

As part of our Inspiring Better Futures initiative, everyone at OneFamily can spend three days a year away from their desk volunteering in the community. From gardening to painting walls, here’s what our colleagues helped out with this summer.

Refreshing a community space for the Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust

For the past few months, we’ve been hard at work building relationships with our local community in Swindon and its wonderful charities, looking for opportunities to give back.

We kicked it off by lending a hand to the Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust. Our colleagues worked together to transform one of the charity’s main community centres into a welcoming space for locals to gather in. They rolled up their sleeves and got to redecorating, giving the walls a pop of colour.

“I just wanted to say another huge thank you to your team and to OneFamily for allowing them to come along and help our community! They were all an absolute pleasure to have around and they did a brilliant job at transforming our community centre hall.”

Dan Fishlock, Swindon Mechanic’s Institution Trust

Since 1995, the Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust has been working to restore Swindon’s historic buildings and landmarks, converting them into community spaces for everyone to enjoy. The Central Community Centre, which our colleagues helped to redecorate, was once the first hospital in Swindon and is now a vibrant community centre run by volunteers.

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Giving the IntoUniversity training room a new look

Members of the marketing team renovated the training room at IntoUniversity’s Brighton centre to provide young people with a professional space to learn.

Charlotte, Tom, Sara, Gemma and Olly got to work fixing up the room, which needed sanding, prepping and a brand new paint job. Over the course of an exhausting two days, they repainted the room in a soft green colour, including all the woodwork, ceiling and walls, making it a much more comfortable place for teens to gather and learn in.

One of our charity partners, IntoUniversity helps give children from less advantaged neighbourhoods a boost towards their chosen future, whether that’s employment or higher education. The charity provides safe, quiet spaces for teens to work, as well as hands-on academic support, workshops and mentoring programmes.

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Making The Clock Tower Sanctuary more welcoming for homeless people

This summer we’ve also helped out another of our charity partners, The Clock Tower Sanctuary.

Anyone seeking help from the charity usually walks in through the back entrance, which had become covered in graffiti over time. This can make the space feel less comfortable to the young people experiencing homelessness who come to the charity looking for a safe space and a sense of community.

Our team members Rob, Klara, Jacob and Sam cleaned up the walls and gave them a fresh coat of paint, working hard to make the space feel more welcoming and less intimidating for those seeking support.

The Clock Tower Sanctuary is Brighton’s only drop-in centre for homeless youth, so the work that the charity does is vital to our community. The charity gives a helping hand to young people with no place to go, providing them with showers, hot meals, laundry facilities and even classes and activities to open up more future opportunities.

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Helping maintain the grounds at Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

Our team members Frankie, Emily, Ines, Morgan, Kat and Olivia spent a day gardening at the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare. They pulled weeds and nettles, scraped moss off walkways and picked and bundled lavender to be sold in the centre’s charity shop.

The team weren’t able to help with direct animal care due to training needs, but they didn’t let that stop them from pitching in! The landscaping work they carried out helped to improve the site for visitors, indirectly increasing donations.

The Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare is one of the most diverse animal rescue centres in the UK, looking after over 1,200 animals, including exotic birds, alpacas, tortoises, cats, dogs and many more. The charity works to rescue, care for and rehome many of these animals, while helping to educate people on how to better care for their own animals.

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Hands-on gardening at the Stanmer Community Garden

This summer we took full advantage of the good weather to take part in not one but two hands-on gardening days!

Rory, Jamie, David, Simon, Gary, Anita, Zarina, Louis and Alison spent a day at the Stanmer Community Garden doing all kinds of hard work. They weeded, composted and seeded beds in the polytunnel, repotted several plants, tidied up the vegetable garden and Rory even built a new compost bin!

The garden plays a vital role in the lives of many vulnerable adults, providing them with a safe and healing environment to take part in activities and build a sense of community, so it’s important to keep it in good condition.

This opportunity brought together people from different parts of the business, who said getting to know team members they hadn’t met before was a highlight of the day.

When asked about this favourite part of the day, Simon told us:

“The whole day - it was a great opportunity to be outside in the fresh air, surrounded by greenery and to chat to colleagues from other areas of the business. It also felt like we made a real, positive difference to the garden for the people that use it.”

The Stanmer Community Garden is a beautiful space for vulnerable adults and volunteers to get involved in gardening, arts and crafts, and nature walks through Stanmer Park. It’s run by volunteers for volunteers, making sure that everyone can get the holistic benefits of being part of a community while surrounded by nature.

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Helping young people get ahead with Spear

Before the charity paused activities for the summer, Sara, Amy, Holly, Dario and Frankie had the chance to participate in a few more mock interview sessions with Spear.

We’ve been working consistently with Spear, one of our charity partners, in helping to get young people ready for employment. The mock interview sessions are an important part of the process, as it gives them a chance to get some job-hunting experience in a supportive environment, as well as receive valuable feedback and learn more about what employers might be looking for.

The Spear programme is a Brighton-based charity that focuses on helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare to join the workforce. The charity helps them build the skills they need to not only get into their careers of choice, but also stay in long-term employment.

What’s coming up

We’re continuing to work with Spear, hosting more mock interview sessions throughout the year to help give young people a better chance at employment.

We’re also looking forward to helping keep more people warm this winter through the Wrap-Up campaign. We’ll be collecting coats and other winter clothing bits in the office to be given to different charities through the Wrap-Up programme, so they can then distribute them to people in need.

In another bid to raise awareness and much needed funds for young people experiencing homelessness this winter, we’re also looking to take part in this year’s Big City Sleepout in Brighton.

We’ll also be helping support people during a particularly difficult time, by working with the Quaker Social Action group to find ways to improve the information on help with funeral costs offered by council websites.

These are only a few of the volunteering opportunities we have coming up later this year, so watch this space!

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