Changing lives through volunteering

Helen Walker

I recently had the privilege of launching the TimeBank impact report – ‘Changing lives through volunteering’.  Whilst we have been busy making an impact we haven’t put together the story of it for a few years so it was a real treat to watch it come together and realise just how much we have achieved for people from a wide range of socially disadvantaged groups with our phenomenal volunteers leading the way. I am very proud of TimeBank every day but when we do something like this it reminds me why.

Sir Kevin Barron MP kindly hosted our launch at an event in the House of Commons and opened by underlining the importance of volunteering: “Volunteers are an amazing force, many of the services we take for granted simply would not happen without them.

And after I’d outlined the breadth and depth of our work over the last few years highlighting just a few statistics: 3,800 women taught English by 357 volunteers at 549 classes – 300 veterans mentored back into civilian life – 85 businesses enabling 4,600 staff to volunteer in their local communities – there’s lots more (it was a 10 minute speech!!) But you can read the impact report yourself here. TimeBank certainly punches well above its weight.

We then heard from our speakers about the impact that volunteering is having across a wide variety of different beneficiary groups.

Khudeja Amer-Sharif, one of our Talking Together partners from the Shama Women’s Centre in Leicester, said: “The Talking Together programme has been the first step for many women towards active integration, helping them overcome language barriers, improve their confidence so that they contribute to local life which we take for granted. It has provided them with a sense of belonging and empowered them to go on to do further learning and employment. It has given volunteers the opportunity to develop their confidence, skills and motivated many to go onto a career in teaching. It has not only impacted on the women who attended the programme, but more widely on families and communities, promoting greater integration”.

Phil Hammond from the Telegraph Media Group cited three benefits of Telegraph staff volunteering through the TimeBank employee volunteering programme: “Positive outcomes for the beneficiaries; staff develop leadership, decision-making & negotiation skills (as well as boosting morale); and it promotes the brand. Everybody benefits.”

Finally, a mentor, Michael Baxter – who volunteers on our Time Together project – spoke about mentoring a refugee to help him transition into UK life: “Who tells you about the etiquette of queuing?! Having a mentor helps with community integration and supports refugees and asylum seekers settle into their new country and understand the culture.”

Volunteering is at the heart of everything we do here at TimeBank and listening to our speakers and talking to our guests afterwards – funders, MPs stakeholders, trustees, partner organisations and staff – made me realise how much TimeBank really is ‘Changing lives through volunteering’.

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