Volunteering at Christmas in Milton Keynes

With the festive season fast approaching your mind may be elsewhere - possibly thinking of buying that perfect gift for a loved one or planning that Christmas party but have you thought about volunteering this winter? There are many ways in which you can help out either in the run up to Christmas, on Christmas Day itself or throughout the winter. Read on to find out more.

Advantage Africa - Christmas Wrapping

Advantage Africa works with inspirational people in Africa to overcome poverty and the stigma of HIV/AIDS and disability. Every year they run a Christmas Gift Wrapping project in Midsummer Place to raise funds for projects in Kenya and Uganda. This year they are hoping to raise £8,000, with the support of a team of volunteers. The project will run from 9th – 24th December and there are various things volunteers are required to do, such as wrapping gifts for customers, taking customers orders (choice of paper/ribbons), taking payment, giving gifts back to the customers who preferred not to wait while gifts were being wrapped and restocking supplies from a store room in Midsummer Place. Volunteers can do some or all of these tasks depending on their interests and what they feel comfortable doing. Training sessions on Christmas Gift Wrapping will be held for new volunteers with dates to be confirmed. When a member of Advantage Africa’s staff is unable to be there Lead Volunteers are required to be responsible for the setting up/closing up the stall, banking and helping the other volunteers for which separate guidance is provided. All volunteers will receive free car parking, some travel allowance, learn about the work of Advantage Africa and meet interesting people! This project would also suit small groups of volunteers who would like to volunteer together as a team.

Winter Night Shelter - Homeless Winter Shelter Support Volunteers

This is the third year that the Winter Night Shelter project has operated in Milton Keynes. Following a very successful project last winter they are again offering a hot meal and a bed for the night to street homeless people during the harshest of the winter months. The shelter will run from 2nd December 2013 to 2nd March 2014 through a partnership with local churches and voluntary and statutory organisations. The project cannot run without the kind and generous support of many volunteers from across our City, last year in excess of 200 volunteers contributed to the success of the project, which housed 174 guests over the last two years. There will be 15 bed spaces every night during the duration of the project and guests will receive a warm welcome, a hot meal and a safe and comfortable bed for the night with breakfast the following morning.

There are several ways in which volunteers can help across five time periods of:

4.15pm – 7.30pm – Reception Café

5.00pm – 9.00pm – Preparing meal, kitchen support

6.30pm – 10.30pm – Set up venue, meet and greet, general support

10.30pm – 6.00am – Overnight support

6.00am – 9.00am – Breakfast preparation, clear away venue

Volunteers will work as part of a team who will be supported by a Team Leader at every venue.

Volunteer ‘roles’ are as follows:-

Cook – prepare and cook an evening meal for up to 15 guests and some volunteers

Kitchen assistants – assist cook in preparing meal, wash up, keep kitchen clean and tidy, make tea/coffee

General support/meet and greet – help set up venue, make beds, lay dinner table, keep venue tidy, meet guests help them feel welcome and comfortable

Overnight support – provide a ‘presence’ overnight to ensure guests are comfortable. A small team of volunteers operate on a two shift sleep/awake system.

Breakfast preparation – prepare and serve breakfast for guests. Wash up, clear and tidy kitchen.

Morning clear up – fold beds away for storage, clear venue ready to hand back for days activities.

All volunteers will be required to attend training on one of the following dates:

30th November or 7th December at the Ridgeway Centre, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes between 9.30am and 1pm, followed by a free lunch.

If you feel you could contribute in one, or more of the above roles, you have good communication skills are prepared to ‘muck in’ and volunteer as part of a flexible team then please get in touch because you could be part of the largest volunteer project that the city has seen in its history.

Christmas Day Party for the Elderly - General Help

The Christmas Day Party has been running for approximately 15 years and each year is attended by around 120 elderly guests who would otherwise be spending Christmas Day on their own. Volunteers are very important to the success of the day. The day starts at around 9:30 am when Volunteer Drivers pick up the guests to take them to the venue. They are met by more volunteers who then look after them throughout the day until they depart at 4 pm. During the day the volunteers will serve tea, coffee, lunch and drinks and may be asked to look after a table of guests. They could also help with the washing up. There is also a visit from Father Christmas who will give each guest a present. Entertainment is provided throughout the day by people who kindly give up an hour or so of their time to go along and entertain the guests by singing or dancing. The day is rewarding, enjoyable, hectic but above all fun and no previous experience of working with older people is necessary. All volunteers need to register their details on the website www.mkpartyforelderly.org Not only would the website give a scope of the organisation but there is also a form which could be completed.

Interested? Then contact either Debbie or Shona at Community Action: MK on 01908 661623 or at debbie@communityactionmk.org or shona@communityactionmk.org to register your details. Alternatively to find out more about other opportunities within the Milton Keynes area come along to our weekly drop in session on a Thursday at Acorn House from 10 am - 12 noon or log onto the National Database of Voluntary Opportunities www.do-it.org

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