Passionate about volunteering

In the last year, Riverside staff have dedicated hundreds of hours’ volunteering time to communities around the country. Lizzie Whitmore, our Volunteer Service Manager for London, looks at why volunteering makes such a difference.

I know first-hand the value of helping people and how it can make a difference to someone’s life. For the last eight years, I have been a volunteer with the Samaritans and currently mentor two schoolchildren. I also help at a charity called Silver Line which provides information, friendship and advice to older people.

I am very passionate about volunteering, and from my experience it is very rewarding to see what a difference you can make – for example you can see how people progress in confidence, attitude and behaviour. It’s also the smaller things that are just as important too, such as talking to someone who can go for days not speaking to anyone. I can truly say the benefits of giving your time and commitment to a worthwhile cause is priceless. I joined Riverside in May 2017 and my job is to plan and organise volunteering events and activities by identifying where help is needed.

Another part of this involves working with external organisations, such as financial institutions, who contact me to see what initiatives they can get involved with and work with us. Volunteering opportunities might include community clean-ups, giving one of our gardens or communal areas a make-over, or hosting a barbecue for our customers. We also welcome long-term partnerships and regular volunteering opportunities for any businesses that want to donate their time, staff or gifts. This can come in the form of hosting regular life skills workshops for our customers; for example ‘how to’ classes in budgeting and cooking and helping people gain employment, or being able to fundraise for essential equipment and facilities.

Another part of my job is to create new volunteer roles for our customers and recruit those that are committed and reliable to help in the community. By offering this prospect to them, we hope it will develop their skills and confidence as well as making them more employable and increase customer engagement. Our customers are at the forefront of everything we do, and I am looking forward to supporting them through every step of their volunteering journey.