Tony and Mu-Chen – volunteers
Two community volunteers explain what they do and how they’ve benefitted from getting involved in local projects.
Tony Braca: food grower
Tony is part of a team of volunteers helping Livesmart customers grow food in their communal garden. For some residents this is about learning a new skill, for others it is rediscovering a long-forgotten one. The project also promotes healthy eating, encourages composting of food waste and is supported by the Clarion Futures Communities Microfund.
What is your role?
I help residents grow their own food in the communal garden of their LiveSmart scheme, producing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables for everyone to enjoy. This week, we planted sweetcorn seedlings and residents are looking forward to enjoying the cobs later in the year.
Why did you want to become a volunteer?
“When you're in the garden together, there's a strong social aspect. I like mingling with the residents and seeing the garden come to fruition: everything we grow gets eaten.”
I started volunteering as a way to settle in when I moved to the UK from Singapore, and to help people in any way I can. I also volunteer with Heath Hands, a local conservation charity.
What's the best thing about being a volunteer?
When you're in the garden together, there's a strong social aspect. I like mingling with the older residents and seeing the garden come to fruition: everything we grow gets eaten.
“The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is the connections that are built with the residents, staff and volunteers. I’ve gained much more than I expected.”
Mu-Chen Lin: recovery support worker, Amy's Place
How did you get into volunteering?
What was your role at Amy’s Place?
I began volunteering at Amy's Place (a London-based service for women aged 18-30 overcoming drug or alcohol dependency) as a student on placement. The skill set I offered was my training and background in dance movement psychotherapy (DMP).
Amy's Place created a role that enabled me to be fully immersed in the organisation, while fulfilling the clinical hours I needed to qualify as a DMP practitioner. They facilitated the process of obtaining the necessary paperwork and training. Some of my tasks included liaising with volunteers and residents, monitoring the activities timetable and assembling the evidence folder tracking the growth of Amy's Place.
What is the best thing about being a volunteer?
The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is the connections that are built with the residents, staff and volunteers. These relationships remind me of the resilience in the lived human experience: the courage and authenticity within the organisation was what drew me to continue volunteering. I realised I looked forward to the days I would volunteer. I gained much more than I expected – I grew in capacity to care and to be effective in providing services. What's your new role at Amy's Place?
I’m a recovery support worker. This was the role I was intrigued by – since residents often remark how thankful they are to receive one-to-one support in their paths of sobriety. In addition to receiving my second professional certification, I’m able to utilise my social work training as well.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to work at Amy's Place and to learn more about supportive housing. Eventually, I'd like to work as a dance movement psychotherapist with women in transitory spaces.
Find out more about Amy’s Place
See how you can become a volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to expand your skills, gain work experience, support your community and meet some amazing people. You could support people to get online, help at your local community centre, run social activities for older people, or help people in vulnerable situations.
You can volunteer for as little as an hour a week to suit your availability: all you need is some time, enthusiasm and commitment.
Email our volunteering team