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Volunteers Stories


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Bradbourne RDA 

I began volunteering for the Sevenoaks RDA approximately six years ago, after a period of ill health for myself.  I wanted to focus on something of value and something that I passionately believed in.  The instructors that I met at Sevenoaks were completely inspirational people who welcomed me warmly to the group.  The benefit that the adult and child riders gain from their lessons with the ponies are immediately obvious - their bodies relax, they move more easily, they forget about their day to day problems and they smile!  Focussing on other people and their problems helps me to forget about my own difficult issues.  I have made strong friendships with some of the other volunteers and both my physical and mental health have improved through my involvement with Sevenoaks RDA.

Paul Bleser, Volunteer Administrative Assistant, Burrswood Health & Wellbeing

After retiring from full-time work 12 years ago l thought it would help alleviate some of my boredom if I took on a bit of voluntary work. The roles I was considering weren’t exactly my thing: car park attendant and an elf (it was Christmas time)!

But fortunately l came across Burrswood Health & Wellbeing and (more by accident than design) began working in the Counselling Department in January this year, assisting with administration. At Burrswood I have been able to use the skills I gained working for many years as a facilities manager at Royal Bank of Scotland and have implemented new systems in the Counselling Department that have benefited my colleagues.

I initially started working for one day a week and have enjoyed my time at Burrswood so much that I have now increased to two. I find it rewarding to be around a team of professionals who do so much to help patients going through a difficult phase of their lives. 

Julie Shannon, head of the Counselling Department, says my help has been “invaluable” and that my “lively personality” has brought “life into the team”. From my perspective, the role has given me a new sense of purpose that has benefited my own health and wellbeing.

Burrswood Health & Wellbeing has a variety of volunteer roles available throughout the organisation. Please contact Haritha Pattabhi for more information on 01892 865978 or haritha.pattabhi@

Adele, East Sussex Young Carers Activity Volunteer

Wanting a career change, volunteering at the Chill Club has given me great experience I can use going forward.

It is so rewarding and I am honoured to be involved in such a worthwhile cause.

Annie, Short Breaks Youth Volunteer

I started volunteering just over 2 years ago after hearing about IMAGO at a careers festival. I thought it would be fun to apply to join as it would be a new experience that I could learn from, and use the skills to help me in the future. 

I really enjoy volunteering because it's very rewarding seeing the children enjoying their time away from their family as they're able to spend weekends or days out with their friends. From my experience volunteering, the one skill I feel I have developed most is communication, because at first I found it difficult as I wasn't able to communicate effectively with others, however now I feel I can. I have also gained confidence within myself from volunteering which has helped me a lot.

 Being a volunteer has helped me decide what I want to do in the future, as it was a whole new experience for me. I have recently decided that I am looking to work with children or adults with disabilities, and I feel volunteering has helped me secure this decision and I still feel confident that I will carry on volunteering into the future.

Sairah - Compaid

My name is Sairah Merchant and I joined Compaid in 2012 as a Computer centre volunteer in my first ever volunteering role (previously working in IT and Retail Management).

 I volunteer once a week and love to collaborate with clients to develop artwork ideas they may have; design a card for a family member or work on a story.  It can often get quite heated when we disagree! 

 Being a volunteer at Compaid is fantastic. You build trust and relationships with clients that are mutually incredibly rewarding. I’ve learnt so much about human nature and what really matters to and inspires people.  It’s a challenging and uplifting experience to volunteer and I think everyone should do it – in the holidays my teenage children also volunteer at Compaid!

 In 2013 I was asked to become a Trustee and being passionate about the organisation, I said yes.  

 As one of several Trustees, we have ultimate responsibility for running the Charity, for its property, finances, and the employment of any staff and volunteers.  We meet several times a year and have various committees where things like the long term strategy for Compaid’s continued success are planned for. We also discuss the impacts of various external factors on the charity and plan accordingly.

 It’s a bit like trying to see into the future and steering Compaid in a safe and successful direction – challenging, but also extremely rewarding.

To find out more about volunteering with Compaid contact Judith Williams,, tel: 01892538345, extn 3

Angus - CROP

My name is Angus and I have been a Volunteer for Citizens Rights for Older People (CROP) for two years.

I started my volunteer journey visiting clients in their own homes in West Kent once or twice a week and, I continue to do this when possible. My visits to these clients mainly involves, filling in forms, in particular, benefit applications, but, I also help with financial and debt concerns and, may need to help the client through the process of, making phone calls or writing letters in relation to these matters.

Just over a year ago, I extended my role with CROP and, now help in the office with administration and answering the phones. More recently, my rough haired Jack Russell called Rhubarb comes with me. The staff make a great fuss of her which, she certainly enjoys!

I really enjoy helping both, with home visits and in the office and, find it extremely rewarding particularly knowing that I have been able to help clients that, largely, do not know who else to turn to.  During my time with CROP, I have spoken to and met some really lovely older people and also, have enjoyed, the comradery of CROP Staff and other volunteers.

I would recommend becoming a volunteer Advocate for CROP if, you like diversity and helping older people and, you can be certain of feeling part of a wonderful Team and, will be supported by staff and other CROP volunteers throughout your CROP volunteering role.



As part of Volunteers Week, CROP would like to thank all our Volunteers for their hard work and dedication in helping our clients over the past year. You are all doing such a wonderful job and, the clients you have supported have, on numerous occasions, expressed their gratitude too. We hope that you will continue enjoying the ‘CROP’ experience for many years to come.

Donna, Kent Young Carers Activity Volunteer

I became  I interested in volunteering through the experiences I have had at work, LifeSkills, which got me thinking that I could offer some of my time to help or support a group, rather than just paying money to charity every now and then and not really feeling like I'd done anything.


I like the fact that it brings you back to the here and now to make you feel and understand some of the challenges faced in our local communities that just go on unnoticed. I've gained a huge amount of respect for those who support and run the activities such as chill clubs and it makes me feel a sense of pride that a small part of me is able to give just a little to help others.

I have 2 children of my own and have more appreciation of how lucky we are with our lives and that's not for me feeling pity for anyone else but more a realisation of the bigger struggles and challenges others face behind closed doors, yet they are courageous and strong.


I would certainly recommend to anyone to give up some time to support their communities, whether it be for the elderly, disadvantaged or less able bodied people.

Georgiana, Short Breaks Youth Volunteer

What inspired you to volunteer with Imago Short Breaks?

I was motivated to join because I wanted to better relate to my father, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I felt the best way to do this was to apply to be a volunteer.

What do you enjoy about volunteering with children and young people with disabilities?

I enjoyed being able to meet so many different young people who have had unique experiences of life and are far more interesting than most people I have ever known.

What have you learned through volunteering?

I have learned that everyone has different needs and we should respect that and treat everyone accordingly.

Sharon - Headway West Kent

Sharon has been volunteering with Headway West Kent at our Maidstone Wellbeing Support Group for two years, fitting in volunteering with Headway West Kent around her full time job. Sharon attends every Thursday morning to support the running of the group, she is a great listener and has lots of empathy and understanding of the needs of our clients who are living with brain injury. 

Sharon wanted to involve her employer in this year’s Action for Brain Injury Week which took place in May, she set about organising a bake sale, book sale and raffle in her works canteen,  a few colleagues pledged to have their chests waxed and to wear make up for the day should a target of £150 be raised. She also encouraged the employees to take part in ‘Hats for Headway’ day on Friday 12th May all to help raise awareness of brain injury.  

 Sharon and her colleagues raised £400 for Headway West Kent during Action for Brain Injury week which is fantastic. We would like to say a huge thank you to Sharon for being such a kind and committed volunteer.  For further information about Headway West Kent please visit

Bradbourne RDA 

As a lifelong horse lover, and lapsed rider/horse owner, I get a regular 'fix' working with our great ponies.  They make sure you appreciate them as individuals . . . and that leads me to the main reason why I volunteer with RDA - our riders. 

When I retired from teaching, I left behind many young people who I hoped appreciated my efforts to improve their understanding of Science.  Now I know so many riders of all ages who really do appreciate my helping them to ride their pony.  They may not say so in so many words, but 'high fives' and a big smile after a cold muddy ride are quite enough.

In addition I've been lucky to work with many young riders who want to learn more about caring for horses through the ASDAN scheme supported by RDA National.  It's been a joy to see these riders develop confidence in grooming, feeding, mucking out and tacking up.  They have achieved awards and experience which all of us can celebrate.

Finally, I have many great new friends.  RDA volunteers always have a common bond, which makes us special, even if our families don't always get the message!!

Number One Community Trust

The popular Number One Community Trust café which serves the Showfields and Ramslye estates at 1, Rowan Tree Walk faced disaster at the beginning of April when the chef resigned unexpectedly. Advertisements in the Courier and at the Job Centre failed to produce a replacement so the four volunteer waiters took over the kitchen and have been running the place themselves – ordering the food and cooking it to order and producing everything from the locally famous “Showfields Big Breakfast” (two eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms for only £3-80) to Chilli Con Carne and Ravioli.

All four –Nan Burgess, Pam Pilbeam -  David Elmer and Evelyn Voller (pictured), live nearby and are members of the two local churches – St Marks and Broadmead – who founded the Trust twenty five years ago. David is the longest serving volunteer (eighteen years) followed by Nan. Pam chairs the Trust’ Social Committee which Christmas and Summer Fayres and regular – and very popular – neighbourhood quiz evenings.   

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