Celebrating Kingston's Volunteers
The generosity and kindness of Kingston’s residents has always helped build and protect its local communities, but since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve seen this community spirit thrive. Residents are doing more than ever to support friends, neighbours and strangers across the borough to overcome the difficulties that self-isolation and social distancing have created.
Celebrating our volunteers
As part of Volunteers’ Week, we want to celebrate some of the individuals and stories that we’ve heard about. These are just a few of the hundreds of people - and thousands of acts of generosity - that are happening across Kingston every day.
Tell us more
We want to do more to celebrate the great work that has been happening. If you have a story you want to share with us, visit Kinder Kingston to tell us about what’s happening near you.
If you are interested in volunteering for a local organisation that is helping make a difference, find out what you can do by visiting www.volunteeringkingston.org.uk
Caroline lives in Kingston with her husband, 20 year old son, boisterous black Labrador and a much quieter cat called Maisie. Caroline is normally a TV producer and has produced shows such as Salvage Hunters, Cash in the Attic and A Place in the Sun. Caroline has previously volunteered for LEAH (Learn English at Home) - a charity which helps refugees and migrants to improve their English language skills. Caroline decided to volunteer when she saw how many people were in need because of COVID-19.
Caroline has been volunteering as a telephone buddy, offering connection and conversation to people feeling lonely as a result of needing to self-isolate, or being part of a vulnerable group that are at greater risk of infection. One of Caroline’s most memorable phone buddies is a lady who is self-isolating because she has underlying health issues that put her at much greater risk.
“It’s great to chat to her over the phone and to learn about her life and how she is coping – remarkably well considering she’s on her own in a flat with no garden! People are amazingly resilient. The hardest thing is not being able to see her or assist in any other way but she is well supported by social services and her doctor.”
Laura lives in Kingston and used to be a manager at a local wedding venue but decided last year that she wanted to become a teacher. Laura is now a teacher assistant at a local primary school, supporting the education of children of key workers. To help her local neighbourhood come together and support each other during COVID-19, Laura has been helping administer a Facebook community group to connect neighbours with those in need of support. The page has over 8,000+ members and is helping make a big difference in the lives of those in the area.
Laura is also part of ‘Sewing for Kingston and Surbiton’, which is a group of local people volunteering their time to make cloth face covers, scrub bags, headbands and other essentials for frontline workers. Laura has also volunteered with TEDx Kingston Upon Thames which exists to champion ideas worth spreading in and around our borough through events and performances.
Laura has been part of Kingston Stronger Together’s Buddying Scheme because she feels it’s important to support each other during this difficult time and wants to do what she can to help.
“The nicest thing about this is getting to know my buddy. He is such a lovely character and I have learnt a lot about Kingston from him. It is wonderful hearing about his life and his experiences and he says when I call it brightens up his day. “
Laura hopes that the Kingston community continues supporting people that could become lonely through lockdown and beyond.
“There are a lot of people that can feel alone and a conversation on the phone to brighten up someone's day can make a big difference.”
Louise lives in Kingston and works as a primary school teacher. While she’s found more time to enjoy what she loves - walking, running, pilates and cooking - Louisa has also been keeping her family active every morning with the Joe Wicks workouts. To make the most of the extra time she has available, Louisa has also volunteered as part of Kingston Stronger Together’s buddying scheme, offering comfort and conversation to someone that is self-isolating.
“I have found it interesting listening to my buddy’s stories. She is a positive person and seems to be coping with lockdown well. However, it is hard to hear that she has lost family members and is isolating on her own. She tells me that she really enjoys our chats so it is rewarding to know they make a positive difference to her wellbeing.”
Louisa is new to volunteering; she felt very lucky to be with her family and wanted to help people who are on their own while self-isolating. Louisa enjoys being part of Kingston Stronger Together, learning new things and making the most of her free time.
“At the start of lockdown I was concerned about the best way to volunteer as many kind neighbours were creating their own ways to help. I wanted to go through a more organised channel so I was pleased to be able to join the Kingston Stronger Together team. I have enjoyed learning new things which has helped my wellbeing and stimulated my brain."
Vicky moved to Surbiton 13 years ago with her partner and two cats. Vicky normally works as an actuary for a life insurance company in the centre of London and is enjoying some of the positives of spending more time at home, particularly avoiding her usual commute to the office! Vicky enjoys swimming and running to keep fit and is very thankful that she has been able to keep up with at least one of these hobbies during the lockdown. Vicky felt that she was lucky to be able to work from home and wanted to help people in her community who are struggling. Vicky has always enjoyed volunteering, especially with projects where she can see the positive impact it is having.
So far, Vicky has been delivering people’s prescriptions, helping those who are self-isolating, are vulnerable, or have mobility issues, and are worried about being able to collect them safely themselves.
“I know a lot of people are finding things very difficult currently and I’m glad to have found a small way in which I can help.”
Like many others, Emanuel couldn't take his GCSEs. He immediately volunteered with Voices of Hope, leading the packing team and taking responsibility for sending out meals to vulnerable people across Kingston every day. At just 16, Emanuel is Voices of Hope's youngest volunteer. The team at Voices of Hope are thrilled that Emanuel is part of the volunteer team, and thankful for the amazing work he is doing for them. They said,
"Emanuel has a fantastic attitude, is incredibly diligent and always has a smile on his face. He's such an example to all 16 year olds and we're very grateful to him."
To find out about how you can help deliver food or prescriptions to those that aren’t able to leave home, become a phone buddy, or other ways you can help, visit www.volunteeringkingston.org.uk