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Personal experiences

Did you know that getting involved with volunteering could help improve your employability?

Many volunteering opportunities can offer benefits including:

  • Gaining practical experience

  • A chance to test new career paths

  • Learning new skills

  • Accessing training  - which could lead to a recognised qualification

  • A chance to show commitment and reliability

  • Increasing confidence and communication skills.


If you would like to find our more about volunteering, contact Lorraine Salmons on

01327 358264 or email

Alternatively, you can browse the current opportunities in your area on the national volunteering database,

Volunteering Verses and Christmas Cakes

Baking cakes for ChristmasCHRISTMAS volunteering took a creative turn last December when volunteers gave delighted recipients cakes and poetry as well as their time!

At snvb we are always pleased to match volunteers to an opportunity, especially during the Christmas period. But this year we were particularly thrilled to hear how four volunteers gave up not only their time but their creative talents as well!

Firstly, we were contacted by mum-of-two, Natasha King, who told us she wanted to volunteer during the festive period and also give her two young daughters a first-time taster of volunteering. We suggested helping out at The Hope Centre in Northampton but, unfortunately, the girls were too young for this opportunity.

Undeterred, this terrific trio decided to cook up some tasty treats for the centre’s users which they proudly dropped off just before Christmas.

Natasha said: “The girls really enjoyed making the cakes and we have had an email back saying that they all enjoyed the cakes during a Christmas sing along!”

Bill MooreThen we received a phone call from Bill Moore who was interested in volunteering over the Christmas holiday and we put him in touch with the organisers of the annual celebrations at Chantry House in Towcester.

Bill, 77, spent the day helping out at the festive dinner and also volunteered to drive one of the guests home afterwards. He said: “I had a few invitations for the day but I just thought I would do something to help others this year. I have never done anything like this before but I saw snvb’s advertisement and I decided I would do it.

“I enjoyed the day and I would say to anyone thinking about volunteering at Christmas to just do it because it’s a very satisfying feeling.”

But Bill the Bard had an added surprise for guests at Chantry House when he entertained everyone with a poem he had written specially for the day.

He said: “They were very pleased. They had never had anything like that before and I think it sums up the day I even got a round of applause!”

Here is Bill’s poem:  


I decided to do something I had never done before,
I'd volunteer for Christmas Day I'd enjoy that for sure,
I contacted the bureau to learn what I could do,
And here I am at Chantry House to share my day with you.

The weather wasn't helpful, with so much ice and snow,
There was a time I wondered would nature let me go,
Fortunately for all of us it got a little better,
The temperature eased off a bit, the roads a little wetter.

So here we are together as we share this Christmas Day,
Christmas lunch, a cracker, there is no better way,
I've enjoyed myself today, I hope that you have too,
It really is a privilege to share my day with you.

Now as our day draws to a close, and my ode comes to an end,
To those who made it possible this message I do send,
May Lady Luck be kind to you in all the coming years,
To all you lovely people we raise our glasses and cheers.


If these stories have inspired you to find out more about Christmas volunteering (or volunteering at any time!) get in touch with Lorraine on 01327 358264 or email:


Chris Mayers is the new Volunteering Development Officer at Stowe Landscape Gardens. After volunteering for more than five years, he escaped from a career in accountancy to become a full-time employee with the National Trust. This is his story:


Chris Myers“I started volunteering when I was 16 as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award. As part of the residential aspect of Gold Award I completed the National Trust’s first working holiday designed for younger people. It was at a property called Craflwyn in North Wales. We spent a week chopping down and burning rhododendron and maintaining the footpaths around the estate.

It was fantastic fun and the leaders were brilliant. After the holiday I joined the Trust’s Youth Involvement Forum - which looked at how we could encourage more young people to be involved with the Trust.

Over the next couple of years, I joined in more and more working holidays until the Trust trained me to become a working holiday’s leader. The course was run in partnership with the Institute of Leadership & Management, so I received a qualification from it as well. As part of the course we went over to Northern Ireland to see how the Trust works in different parts of the country.

After leaving school I started training as an accountant in Liverpool, but continued to volunteer with The National Trust. At the 2007 AGM I was invited to take part in a live debate around the issue of climate change. From that we created a group called You, Me and The Climate which trains and supports young people, so they can start their own climate change discussions.

After being involved with the Trust for five years and having loved every moment I decided that I would love to work for them. The best way to get enough experience to be able to apply for the job I wanted was to become a full time volunteer.

So in early 2009 I said goodbye to accounting and moved to the Lizard Peninsular in Cornwall. I spent four months working as a volunteer warden before moving to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland I was responsible for the regeneration of a walled garden back into a kitchen garden. The project was completely volunteer run and when my time came to an end we had recruited and trained 25 volunteers to help with the restoration.

After my year as a full time volunteer I applied for a job with the Trust to become their Volunteering Development Officer at Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckingham - and got it! I’ve gone from working holiday volunteer to member of staff and loved everything in between!”

Digging To Make A Difference!

Tudor Rose GardenWinter woollies were teamed up with wellies when young volunteers got digging to make a difference on a very snowy February day!

The team of teenagers from Northamptonshire Voluntary Youth Action (NVYA) braved the freezing weather to dig over the Tudor Rose Garden in Brackley as part of a long-term project to restore the site to its former glory.

They were joined by three US recruits from RAF Croughton who also wanted to get involved with the scheme and didn’t let the famously bad British winter put them off.

Organiser of the Tudor Rose Garden Project, Elaine Dixon, said: “It’s fantastic to see them all turn out in this weather! It’s been brilliant to have them here and their help will move the project on in leaps and bounds!”

Thirteen-year-old Ceri Blackford said: “It’s cold but good fun and I will definitely do more volunteering because of this.”

Robert Reynolds from RAF Croughton said: “This is a great chance for us to help out and to volunteer. It’s good to get involved with the community.”


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