Redbridge’s Volunteer Centre hopes to encourage more people to help others with £75k grant

Redbridge volunteer Krithika Subramanian helps with admin and other tasks at the centre

Redbridge volunteer Krithika Subramanian helps with admin and other tasks at the centre - Credit: Archant

From youngsters fresh out of college to business men and women and retired folk, volunteering catches the mood of plenty in Redbridge. But it is not a one-way street.

Redbridge’s Volunteer Centre has been given a £75,000 grant by Redbridge Council to help it reach more prospective volunteers and spread the word about the opportunities that are available.

And the centre in Clements Road, Ilford, is keen to make sure those doing the volunteering get out of it exactly what they want.

Speaking of the funding, centre manager Liz Walker said: “It will enable us to work with a lot more people and engage with the volunteers ourselves so we can go out into the community and support them.

“We work with a lot of organisations to develop roles and manage their volunteers programme through support and training.

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“In a way, it’s more of a skill to manage a team of volunteers than to manage paid staff.”

The centre first opened in May 2007 with funding from the council and Capacity Builders. It was forced to close in 2008 after further funding could not be secured – leaving Redbridge as one of only two London boroughs at the time without such a centre.

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Funding came its way from the council in 2009 after some lobbying and a volunteering strategy for the borough was developed.

Now, the council has pledged a yearly grant of £75,000 over the next three years, with the option of a two-year extension, in an effort to get even more people in the borough involved in their community.

Liz said: “Volunteers make a fundamental contribution to all aspects of community life in Redbridge.

“Volunteering strengthens people’s sense of community and allows them to participate in positive activity, meet people from all backgrounds and cultures and even keep skills alive whilst looking for work.”

She added: “The Volunteer Centre is now the go-to place for information about volunteering and plays a key role in supporting the vibrant community, cultural and leisure sectors in the borough, whilst encouraging stronger voluntary organisations to provide more and better quality volunteering opportunities, services and facilities.”

Volunteers keep the centre running smoothly, such as Krithika Subramanian, who has helped with admin work since September.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers,” said Liz.

A council spokesman said: “The council sees the role of the volunteer centre as an important facility in providing opportunities for residents to learn new skills to make a contribution to society and be part of the community.”

The centre is aiming to achieve 500 placements by the end of the first year of funding.

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