Interesting wandering around some of the districts of London. Who is volunteering? Why? What catches the eye at street level? Well in Richmond, the home of some of the hot shots from the Rolling Stones, near the river, and summer haunt of Henry Xlll in the 16th century, I came across a couple of exceptionally pleasant opportunity shops. One was raising funds for Oxfam and the other for a hospice – like New Zealand free provided the necessary funds can be raised. I talked with the paid manager – young and enthusiastic. Yes we have lots of volunteers. They’re what make the whole thing work. We try to have high-class objects but charge very little. I happily bought some Italian china for gifts.
The next group of volunteers en passant was in Kennington, South London. There’s a great park near where I am staying in a cousin’s house beside the tube station. Volunteers collect regularly – I read all this on a community notice board – to find funds for more flowers for the park, and also to plant them. These sort of community volunteers based in distinct districts add so much joy and brightness to the parks and public gardens that make London life breath.
And the third group I came across, and this is without visiting any offices or official volunteer organisations such as I am associated back in New Zealand, was the sporting parents. I talked at a lunch party with a young man in his mid-30s. Every Sunday there he is with his young son, being an umpire for the local junior cricket club. There are also amazing groups working with asylum seekers, the homeless and those with special needs. Amid the gossip columns and the ‘news of the world’ horror stories, these volunteers and voluntary organisations add a sense of optimism and security. The world is o.k. after all. We will survive – thanks to this infrastructure which is stronger than banks and monopolies and is actually surprisingly visible; despite the fact that behind these groups there are no huge pr firms or corporate ‘namers’. It’s the heart and the spirit which counts…and shows.
from Pauline in London