Volunteering increases one’s wellbeing – Lessons from the Community Impact Forum in Canterbury

I attended the Community Impact Forum in Canterbury on 17 June 2019 which was held to kick off Small Charities Week 2019 and Canterbury Christ University’s annual Staff Well-being Week. Volunteers, Volunteer Managers, Fundraising Managers, Chief Executives and other staff from the third and community sector as well as students and staff at Canterbury Christ Church University attended the event for an afternoon of informal networking, discussion and development. 

Tristi Brownett, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion and Public Health, gave a very interesting talk in which she presented her research on Community Festivals – the health and wellbeing benefits for the community and volunteers.  

I found Trista’s talk on the benefits of free festivals (such as Broadstairs Folk Week) versus paid ‘gated’ festivals fascinating as Trista explained how with free festivals the volunteers come from the local community, as do a lot of the festival goers, and the whole experience benefits the local and wider community in terms of wellbeing.  With paid ‘gated’ festivals both volunteers and festival goers often come from further afield and the local community can feel excluded. 

It was also interesting to learn that the research suggests, as you would expect, that volunteering increases one’s wellbeing, but what the research went on to reveal was that often only those people who already have positive wellbeing are willing to put themselves forward to volunteer because they have the self-esteem to believe that they can do the job.   The challenge is therefore to reach out to those people who think they cannot do the job as they will come to realise that with the right support and development opportunities they can do the job and not only will this benefit the individual but also the community as volunteers are always in demand by our various local organisations.

Trista’s talk was followed by an open discussion – Creating a culture of volunteering – and the afternoon ended with Tea, Cake and Networking! 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

A quick update about what Books2Africa is doing in response to these uncertain times caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and supporters. Key to this is following government recommendations closely. Thankfully no suspected cases of COVID-19 have been reported amongst our staff and volunteers. Our Processing Centre in Canterbury is still operational and well stocked with the enough books and resources to ship to Africa.

Please read our updates below on steps taken to minimise the risk to staff, volunteers and supporters.

  • Public Book Collections Suspended: Effective today, we are suspending our collection service for book donations by members of the public in the UK. Although this will affect our book donation numbers, it would reduce the workload on our paid staff who continue to work during this difficult period to ensure the charity remains operational. This will be reviewed at the end of Easter on 14th April 2020.

  • Warehouse Volunteering Suspended: Effective today, we are suspending all volunteering work at the Processing Centre in Canterbury. This means all our UK and International Volunteers are no longer allowed to come into the Canterbury site. Although this will affect our processing and sorting capacity, it makes it easier for us to enforce government advise on social distancing and minimise the risk to paid staff who continue to work normal hours, ensuring our charity shop remains operational and shipments to Africa are dispatched. This will be reviewed at the end of Easter on 14th April 2020.

  • Online Volunteering: During this suspension of warehouse volunteering, we will be assigning all our volunteers to our Education Team to work on a variety of fundraising tasks online. To this end, all our International Volunteers are required to attend an online Skype meeting with our Director of Education on Wednesday 25th March at 9:30 am. UK volunteers who would like to join in can also email [email protected] to indicate their interest in order to receive further instructions on joining the meeting.

 

 
Finally a word of encouragement – Do not be afraid, stay safe and continue to have faith that this will soon pass. 
  • The strictest hygiene standards are being followed at our Processing Centre, with hand sanitisers, disinfectant sprays, plastic gloves and posters reminding staff, volunteers and supporters to wash their hands regularly and wipe their work surfaces.

 

  • No contact deliveries: Couriers delivering boxes to the Processing Centre will no longer require you to sign by hand on delivery. Rather, they are advised to enter your initials.

 

  • Drop-offs and tours suspended: From next week, drop-off appointments by members of the public will be suspended until further notice. Until then, staff and volunteers are advised to receive deliveries without contact and avoid giving members of the public tours of the Processing Centre.

 

We appreciate your understanding as the situation evolves and reassure you that we will take necessary steps to ensure your safety whilst trying to also fulfil our charitable objectives. If you need any support or advice, you can send us an email [email protected]

Thank you for your continued support and do subscribe to our coronavirus updates if you want to be remain updated.
Books2Africa UK Team

Shipping and delivering 1 million books every year
involves the following:

Volume
  • 20,000 books fit in 1 x 20ft container
  • 1,000,000 books fit in 50 x 20ft containers
  • 4 x 20ft containers shipped monthly
Costs
  • £5,000 to process, ship and clear each container of 20,000 books
  • £20,000 delivers 4 containers monthly
Fundraising Target
  • 2,000 individuals giving £10 or more monthly, or 50 corporate partners sponsoring 1 container per year. Thank you.

30%

Processing in the UK

30%

Freight from the UK

40%

Clearing and haulage in Africa

Books2Africa is a UK registered charity number 1152599