Volunteers’ Week: Shining a light on Redbridge’s local heroes

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 June 2020

Julie Harvey has started the Tin in a Bin scheme. Picture: Redbridge Council

Julie Harvey has started the Tin in a Bin scheme. Picture: Redbridge Council


Redbridge is marking Volunteers’ Week 2020 by shining a spotlight on some of the fantastic efforts residents have made to help their community.

Gill James and Roger Godbold held a tea party for the elderly. Picture: Redbridge CouncilGill James and Roger Godbold held a tea party for the elderly. Picture: Redbridge Council

Many local people have been taking part in all forms volunteering to help our communities through the coronavirus pandemic.

Gill James and Roger Godbold have been running the Aldersbrook Contact Elderly Tea Party for a decade with the help of volunteers.

When lockdown put the brakes on them continuing to host tea, cakes and chats in volunteers’ homes for their elderly guests, they found another way to keep the party going.

The team now regularly phone their guests – many of whom are in their nineties - to keep the chats going, and even surprised them with a doorstep delivery of homecooked teatime treats.

The council’s frontline Wellbeing Service - created to directly help those most at risk from coronavirus – has been a beacon of volunteering success in the community.

Local firefighters are supporting the Wellbeing Service by delivering food parcels, prescriptions and other essential items to vulnerable residents.

Another local volunteer hero, Garry Twitchett, gave up a paid job in 2013 to become more involved with volunteering opportunities in the borough. Since the coronavirus outbreak he has been volunteering as a delivery driver at the council’s Wellbeing Service.

The 64-year-old retired police officer, from Clayhall, said: “It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. I’ve been able to help some of the most vulnerable people in the borough who haven’t been able to leave their home, and I’m grateful for the part I can play in helping out.

“Volunteering feels like my second chance at life, and I love doing it. I’ve also made some wonderful new friends and widened my social circle. Being a volunteer works both ways. You can get as much out of it as the people you are helping.”

The council also set up a volunteer network in partnership with Redbridge CVS, specifically to deliver support to local people suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Meanwhile in Wanstead, resident Julie Harvey volunteered her time to start the successful Tin in a Bin scheme.

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The initiative encouraged neighbours to drop non-perishable food into a designated bin outside her home, which gets donated to Redbridge Foodbank.

Following lockdown, fellow Wanstead resident James Paterson teamed up with Julie to offer a similar collection in front of his house. It didn’t take long for the idea to take off with others following the dynamic duo’s lead.

Tin in a Bin now operates from 37 front gardens across Wanstead, Aldersbrook and South Woodford, and over five tonnes of food has been donated so far.

As well as going to Redbridge Foodbank, the donations have also helped support local homeless initiatives and frontline NHS Workers. Julie said: “Volunteering to help others can come in many forms, and we are really proud of what our scheme has been able to achieve. It’s great to see communities coming together for a common goal. Every single food donation will make a huge difference to someone in need.”

Ashleigh Duhig, a former Redbridge resident found her way back to the borough when she was given an opportunity through Volunteer Centre Redbridge - a well-established local service that has placed more than 2000 people in volunteer roles across Redbridge since it started.

Ashleigh has been delivering food and medicine to some of the borough’s elderly residents during the pandemic.

The 27-year-old teacher said: “I grew up in Redbridge and this was the perfect opportunity for me to give back to the community. I’ve been assigned three elderly residents in the borough, and whenever they need me to pick up food or medicine they just give me a call. It’s such a rewarding role and I’m just really happy to be able to help.”

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Redbridge’s greatest strength has always been our people, and our ability to pull together as a community to help one another.

“Our volunteers in Redbridge are a glowing example of this, so a very big thank you to all our wonderful volunteers for the incredible work you are doing in our borough.

“The pandemic has presented new challenges and local people have risen to this challenge, often going out of their way to support their neighbours.

“Redbridge had been my home for over 50 years, so I know how supportive, kind and generous our neighbours are. This volunteer week we’re taking the time to celebrate these everyday heroes.”

Volunteers’ Week runs from June, 1, and celebrates the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

Do you know a local volunteer hero? Email

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