Volunteer Stories – Volunteering into an Apprenticeship

John Storer House

Read case study by Matthew Coleman-Haynes – Apprentice, John Storer Charnwood

After finishing my GCSEs, I started volunteering through John Storer House whilst I was unsure what step to take next in my education. I started off by volunteering at their allotment, which appealed to me because of the mix of indoor and outdoor activities working with adults with learning disabilities. This was a unique opportunity and I found it very rewarding.

The following academic year, I embarked on A level courses alongside my volunteering. Just before Christmas time, I chose to do an extra day of voluntary work at John Storer House itself. I worked with adults with learning disabilities, the elderly and people suffering from dementia. With this group we did activities such as craft, games and sewing.

I enjoyed my voluntary work so much that I started looking at apprenticeships in Health and Social Care. I decided this was something I wanted to pursue rather than following the A level path. I was very fortunate as John Storer House offered me the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship through them. I am now just over halfway through my course and have had no regrets.

Volunteering exposed me to a career path that I would never have considered previously but one that is perfect for me.

Image: Matt at the beach as a volunteer with John Storer House




This case study has been provided by Charnwood Borough Council


Volunteer Stories – Helping people

VAL was contacted by the City Council Warden for Evington, Thurncourt, Humberstone & Hamilton on  May as they wanted assistance for a lady who lived in a flat and was shielding. 

It was becoming a struggle and she had requested a sewing machine to make some PPE for the NHS as that would improve her mental wellbeing.  VAL contacted various organisations in the city and repeatedly put out requests via social media.  As a result of a post in the Leicester Covid-19 Mutual Aid Facebook Group a sewing machine was donated and was picked up by a VAL staff member on Saturday 16 May. The recipient said she was absolutely blown away by the gesture and was over the moon.  The donor provided a nice note that outlined how the machine worked and also donated a stash of fabric.

Image above: Lady who kindly donated the sewing machine

Volunteer Stories – Making a difference

VAL were contacted by Cllr Adam Clarke on Thursday 23 April 2020 regarding an elderly constituent in his AylestoneWard who was self-isolating and wanted someone to tidy up her garden. 

We looked at the registered volunteers in this area and contacted someone who had given previous volunteering experience of community gardening.  We contacted this volunteer on Friday 24 April, who was very keen to get involved with the project and on Monday 27 April she spent several hours tidying up the garden and left the elderly person very happy.

Comment from volunteer:

‘It was a bit of an epic garden, it hadn’t been touched since last autumn, I’m not sure but I think she was widowed last year and didn’t know where the garden tools were. Thankfully I took my own mower, strimmer, shears and stuff so was able to hack through the meadow.  At least now, she can look out onto a mown lawn’

Volunteer Stories – Oasis Pre-School

Oasis Pre-School is a not for profit, community preschool for children aged 2 – 5 in Asfordby, Melton, with a specialism around SEN and disabilities. Whilst the nursery has been able to remain open 3 days a week to support families of frontline workers and children classed as vulnerable

With the help of local volunteers, it has also taken on the role of running a food donations pickup and delivery service for local people, along with a clothes bank.

The nursery also sends ‘Home learning’ activities to families through the post, as keeping in-touch with families every week, through social media and on their Facebook page. www.facebook.com/oasisfamilycentre/

Asfordby is an area of deprivation and the pre-school works with many families from disadvantaged backgrounds.  The pre-school’s role in the community is therefore more than just being a nursery, it provides a focal point for the entire community.


This case study has been provided by Leicestershire County Council


Volunteer Stories – Melton Learning Hub

The Melton Learning Hub is a charity which supports young people and the elderly and vulnerable, primarily in Melton Mowbray, but also further afield. The Hub offers a wide variety of vocational qualifications to young people 14-19 who are excluded or at risk of exclusion from mainstream education.

The Hub has linked up with Melton Borough Council to create a food bank from its premises. A number of volunteer drivers and staff from the Hub are delivering food to families and people in need across Melton. The service is promoted through Facebook and other social media and is continuing to help people in isolation but also those people who have experienced a sudden loss of income.

The Hub has an industrial kitchen on site (funded by a grant from Leicestershire County Council 5 years ago) which is being used to prepare food for delivery to local people who need food parcels. A team of 22 volunteer drivers are helping with deliveries of food, essentials and also in supporting the vulnerable and elderly with getting to doctors and hospital appointments.

More details about Melton Learning Hub can be seen here:




This case study has been provided by Leicestershire County Council


Volunteer Stories – Coalville Education Partnership

Coalville Education Partnership (CEP) is an alternative education provider, which supports students who are excluded from mainstream education. One of the activities undertaken by the organisation is to offer training around cooking and meal preparation for young people.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that CEP have been unable to offer their usual activities to young learners. The organisation has however, responded quickly by utilising their on-site kitchen facilities to prepare food and deliver this to people living in Coalville and surrounding area.

Jason Knibbs from CEP said,

“Putting our catering kitchen to good use and cooking for those in need is a ‘no brainer’. Before COVID-19 we used to cook for older and vulnerable people once a week. However, that had to stop. We’ve got a catering kitchen with equipment and a contract with the charity FareShare, so I decided to make a difference and provide meals for communities in North West Leicestershire.”

Jason and his small team of cooks and support staff receive a variety of food and do not know what they will get until its delivered. From there they create meals such as Spanish chicken, roast dinners and cottage pies.

While CEP creates hundreds of meals a week, a team of 60 volunteers from the Hugglescote, Donington Le Heath and Coalville Community Response Hub deliver the meals twice a week.

Founder of the community organisation, Jade Edwards, said that she only started out cooking meals for her mother. The mum-of-four, from Coalville, said:

“I’m a carer for my mum, so when the government restrictions came in I took meals round for her and her neighbours asked for help with meals and shopping. I put what I was doing on social media and asked for people to adopt a street to help vulnerable people and within two weeks I had more than 40 volunteers. I love delivering meals in the community and seeing the smiles on people’s faces. What we are doing is making a huge difference and I’ve had people say that they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the service we are providing. It wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers.”



This case study has been provided by Leicestershire County Council

Volunteer Stories – Lutterworth Crisis Action

Lutterworth Crisis Action is an inspiring community initiative which has been established to provide support to residents in Lutterworth during the Coronavirus pandemic. The scheme, which is led by St Mary’s Church in Lutterworth, came about through initial conversations between the church and a number of committed community organisations based within the town, all of whom felt the need to develop a local response to help people get through the crisis.

The agencies involved in the scheme include:

  • St Mary’s Church
  • Age Concern Lutterworth
  • Lutterworth Town Council
  • Lutterworth Community Transport
  • Lutterworth Volunteer Centre
  • Lutterworth and Villages Foodbank

The scheme recruits local volunteers and mobilises them to provide support to those most in need, particularly for people in households who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 crisis. The main tasks undertaken by the volunteers include delivering groceries and other essential shopping; collection and delivery of medication; transport to essential medical appointments; and befriending support to reduce loneliness.

In total, the initiative has recruited nearly 150 volunteers and provided support to over 200 local residents who are impacted by the Covid crisis.

More details can be seen at www.lutterworthchurch.org/crisis



This case study has been provided by Leicestershire County Council


Volunteers Week 2020

This year we’ve had to think differently about how we recognise both our own volunteers and those people who are giving up their time across Leicester and Leicestershire to support their communities.

Volunteers Week activities

Throughout the week we will share volunteer stories from ourselves and our partners to highlight and show our gratitude for some of the people doing amazing things to help others.


We will be launching a Twitter Q&A on all things volunteering – ask us any questions on Twitter using the hashtag #askVAL.


Network and Learn Session

This session will take place over Zoom, from 10:00am to 12:00pm and is aimed at volunteer-involving organisations who want to learn and share best practice. Dave Andrews, Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, will be speaking at the session. Book your place


Internal training and celebration of VAL’s own volunteers, with personal thanks from VAL’s senior management and Chair of the trustee board.


Training – Managing Remote Volunteers

This Zoom webinar takes place between 10:00am and 12:00pm, with Dave Cliffe and Anna Barrow from our Volunteering team and the Work.Live.Leicestershire project: Book your place


Twitter Q&A – throughout the day we’ll be answering any questions people have sent us relating to volunteering, using the hashtag #askVAL.


We will be sharing data, insights, research and statistics about volunteering.


On Sunday we will be revealing a special video to thank volunteers across the city and county for everything they’ve done during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Support Volunteers

We are looking to build up a bank of volunteers to join us and our Voluntary and Community Sector partners in supporting Leicester and Leicestershire people during this unprecedented time. We know that there is a lot of effort and energy going into this at the moment on a local community level, but do recognise that it’s important to work with partners to do what we can to coordinate this effort.

You will ideally be someone who enjoys working with other people you may not have met before, be keen to help in a crisis and be willing to be flexible to the continually changing situation.

What you could be doing

We don’t know for sure yet exactly what the volunteering opportunities might involve, but examples include:

  • Reaching out to people in the community and providing information and advice
  • Dog walking if people are unable to get out themselves
  • Providing a friendly phone call service to help people that may be isolated or lonely
  • Picking up shopping for those that can’t do it easily themselves
  • Posting mail

Trustee’s Week 2019

As part of trustee week, VAL held a number of events/activities. One of these included VAL’s first trustee week network and learn event. 

At the event, trustees got to learn about the governance code.

Good governance in charities is fundamental to a charity’s success. It enables and supports a charity’s compliance with the law and relevant regulations. It also promotes a culture where everything works towards fulfilling the charity’s vision. The code is a practical tool to help charities and their trustees develop high standards of governance.

At the event, trustees got chance to network about how they are using the code or could apply it in their own organisation.

David Lindley Trustee of Leicestershire & Rutland Organisation For The Relief Of Suffering Limited known as LOROS and their governance lead tells us about their use of the code:

“The trustees [of LOROS ] remain committed to supporting staff and volunteers and to playing their part to ensure that LOROS continues to deliver the best possible service and support to its patients and their families/carers. To this end, a group of LOROS trustees are currently carrying out a self-assessment and scoring exercise using the Charity Governance Code principles and outcomes as well as recommended good practice. The results will form the basis for assessing current board performance and hopefully help identify those areas within the governance framework where there is a scope for further developing and strengthening the governance of this amazing local charity.”

If you would like to find out more how you can start to use the governance code within your charity, or if you are using the code and would like some additional advice please contact our helpline (If using our online form, please use the “support for your voluntary organization” drop down box.)

The governance code steering group have launched a consultation on the governance code.

The new consultation, which will run until 28 February 2020, will focus on several areas, including how to improve awareness and take-up of the code, diversity, safeguarding and how the code is being used.

Also at the trustee week network and learn event, we had a presentation by BHIB insurance brokers about how trustee indemnity insurance fits into the types of insurance cover relevant to charities. As well as launch of their new trustee indemnity insurance flyer. If you would like to review your insurance cover, please get in touch with them by phone on (0116) 2819 141 or by email enquiries@bhibaffinities.co.uk