Manchester is a place where people give their time and do not give up. The recent commemorations for the Arena attack, which featured over 3,500 singers and thousands of audience members gathering in Albert Square, highlighted the power of community. The trees of hope dotting the city streets were another example of volunteers giving their time to help people leave messages and remember.
Volunteers’ Week, running from 1-7 June, is a way to continue this powerful strength through positivity on a local level.
There’s a Volunteer Fair at Central Library in Manchester on Monday 4 June from 10.30am – 2.30pm, a free event where you can meet over 40 voluntary organisations. Many initiatives in Manchester are hugely grateful for voluntary support, and your involvement can be highly influential.
The theme of this years’ Volunteers’ Week, which was first set up in 1984 by Volunteering England, is ‘volunteering for all’ – all the more reason to look at some local opportunities. Get yourself signed up and start making a difference.
Real Junk Food
This creative restaurant and café on Oxford Street makes sustainable meals from scratch, intercepting perfectly fit food that would otherwise go to waste and turning it into beautiful breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s pay-as-you-feel and open to all, making it a valuable community space. Staffed by volunteers, there is plenty to get stuck into from taking orders to serving meals. The team are always keen for new members, even if you can only spare a couple of hours here and there.
If you are passionate about the ethics of food and creating a positive environment where people come together – or just love good grub – this is for you. Training will be given. Email [email protected].
Hulme Garden Centre
An oasis of calm in the middle of an urban space, this horticultural project near the MMU Birley campus aims to bring people together through gardening. There are a number of volunteer opportunities, from helping with upkeep to learning how a garden centre operates. An opportunity to meet new people and get close to nature in a space that is full of surprises. Expect plenty of beautiful blossoms at this time of year, too.
Champion sustainability and get involved with some great projects with EMERGE: East Manchester Environment and Resources Group. And they certainly are resourceful – they’ve recently been involved in a brewing project. Going strong for 20 years, they offer a range of volunteering opportunities whether you can give a certain number of hours a week or just want to make a one-off contribution.
There’s the possibility of getting involved in their FareShare, Touch Wood and ‘Grow Your Own’ projects too: an array of activities from wood recycling to food sharing to address urban poverty. For more information contact Liz Lauder, Volunteer and Employability Manager on 0161 223 8200 option 6 or email [email protected]. They also have a weekly open morning on Thursdays – you can just pop in.
A great chance to cook for the community, FoodCycle Manchester serves healthy three-course meals in a community setting every Wednesday evening from the Roby, a mental health and social centre on Dickinson Road. Open to all, it is staffed by volunteers who help to prepare, cook and serve the food, making a positive difference to around 40 visitors every week – some who may struggle to feed themselves otherwise. No previous cooking experience is required, and everyone is welcome to be part of the inclusive team.
The Horsfall and 42nd Street
A Greater Manchester young people’s mental health charity with 38 years of experience. There are a number of groups, creative projects and voluntary opportunities you can get involved with – even more so since the opening of The Horsfall in 2016, a new venue promoting creative engagement based in the former Ancoats Art Museum. The message behind this place is that you can help make a positive difference to young people’s lives through the arts and nature. By offering skills, time or fundraising you can be part of the positivity. Contact them with your ideas at [email protected].
The Zion Centre
There are a number of community volunteering opportunities available at this bustling resource centre right next to Hulme Park including the chance to help Anxiety UK – which has a branch in the centre – by giving your time as an Infoline Volunteer. You will be a vital point of contact to provide information and guidance to people with anxiety – so if you have an interest in working in the field of mental health, this is especially suitable. Applications are open online and you should be able to cover a four hour shift per week, for a minimum of six months.
The Samaritans provide emotional support to people from all walks of life, often through their phone service, providing someone to talk to at a time of need. The Manchester and Salford branch is based on Oxford Road and you can get involved in a number of ways. Listening volunteers offer a friendly, non-judgemental voice at the end of the phone, whilst branch volunteers help support the running of the charity operations – everything from helping with marketing to arranging fundraising. Ultimately, your skills will be valued and make a positive difference.