International Volunteer Day


There are as many types of people volunteering as there are volunteers. Caritas Westminster would like to thank and celebrate all volunteers – whether they are working in our own projects, sister projects, or have found their positions through the Caritas Volunteer Service.

Here we highlight just a few of the many, showing the wide range of personalities and reasons people love volunteering!

The Business Man

Antoine Hilaire works in project management for Bloomberg. He has volunteered in various ways, including church cleaning and work with the homeless – very valuable ways of contributing to the community. But recently, Antoine began wondering if he could use his business skills in a positive way to support others. That’s when when he heard that SEIDs, a Caritas Westminster project, were looking for volunteer mentors.

Antoine is now part of the team of mentors who support people in setting up new social enterprises – people who would otherwise be unemployed but who have a great idea for a business which contributes to their local community.

Antoine said that volunteering ‘comes from the heart’ and ‘truly depends on people.’  He also suggests that anyone interested in volunteering should ‘listen to your heart, not only reason. It doesn’t need to be perfect.’

The Lonely Person

Ann (not her real name) volunteers with a project called Feed Up Warm Up in Stevenage and Hitchen. This project welcomes rough sleepers, and others in desperate need, to a drop in centres once a week.

The impact they can have on the guests who come along, can be incredible, but Ann’s story shows that the experience can be just as valuable for the volunteer. She told us: “Since volunteering for FUWU my life has been given a new purpose. I love my Wednesday sessions with the other volunteers and clients.  It has given me a reason to leave my house every week and to focus on other things and other people. Before FUWU weeks would pass where I wouldn’t leave my house or interact with other people – FUWU has given me a new lease of life.”

If you are considering becoming a volunteer, take a look at the Caritas Volunteer Service for a wide range of opportunities. 

The One Who Got To Go Abroad

Many young people dream of travelling but also want to do some good in the world. Organisations like the Assumption Volunteers find placements for people overseas, often as teachers.

This is Bettina working in The Philippines. She is teaching a class in ecological education. School groups come to the beach centre to learn about ecology, recycling, and stepping lightly on the earth.

The one who has Been There

The founder of Feed Up Warm Up, Shane Cole, began the project because he himself had once been homeless, on the streets, and a drug addict. He received the help he needed and has managed to make a good life for himself.  

Shane was recently interviewed on his local BBC radio station and he told them “A few years back when I was 17 years old I found myself on the street and on drugs. I have PTSD. I have been clean of drugs for 13 years. I decided at the end of last year that i would start this charity up and make a difference to people’s lives that really need it. Somebody saved me when I was 17.”

“I understand completely , I’ve lived it, I see people every week that struggle with the same demons. A lot of my volunteers have lived the same sort of life so they all understand.”

If you are considering becoming a volunteer, take a look at the Caritas Volunteer Service for a wide range of opportunities. 

The Creative Type

After working temporary jobs for many years Elvira De Souza was frustrated and ready for a change. She began to look into volunteering opportunities, and after talking to a friend at St Joseph’s, she figured she would try it out.

St Joseph’s is a school where adults with intellectual disabilities can learn and grow. One of the classes offered there is art. Elvira helped out at this class for a day and immediately knew that she wanted to keep volunteering there. “I’m very fond of art. I love doing creative things. I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”

Elvira now serves as a volunteer in the ceramics class. She loves that her volunteer role involves art and creativity, the most special part about her role is the relationships she has built with her students.  “All the students want is love. I can tell you that one thing. Once you give them that love and kindness, that’s all they need.” 

If you are considering becoming a volunteer, take a look at the Caritas Volunteer Service for a wide range of opportunities.

The One Who Ends Up Getting Paid For It

Many volunteers are looking to gain experience to put on their CV – this doesn’t for a minute mean they are self-seeking – they just want to get better at serving others, gain a deeper understanding, and eventually get the skills to get a paid job, which might be in the voluntary sector. 

Mel joined Caritas Bakhita House as a volunteer in 2016. She helped take the guests (women who have escaped from trafficking and slavery) on outings to the cinema, art galleries and other places as part of their rehabilitation. After two years years she was offered employment there as a Support Worker, and now runs the drama therapy programme. 

Supporting women who have been trafficked and exploited isn’t for everyone. It takes a unique set of skills. “I feel like a spectator at the theatre who has been allowed backstage to see how much work goes into the smooth running of the play,” says Mel. “It has been a privilege to see both sides of the coin and I hope to rise to the challenge of my new role.”

If you are considering becoming a volunteer, take a look at the Caritas Volunteer Service for a wide range of opportunities.


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