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Trent & Dove community heroes clock up 8,000 hours of service

Trent & Dove housing association celebrate the work of four of their hard working volunteers as part of volunteers' week 2024.
Trent and Dove volunteers

Joan is sitting with friends peeling potatoes in a community cafe while Steve is carefully tending to his tomatoes and onions in an allotment – both happily settled into one of the most important jobs in the world – volunteering.

Joan Insley is a larger-than-life personality at Winshill’s 181 Community Hub, in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, with a heart of gold and a willingness to make everyone feel welcome.

Steve Shelley can often be seen in his outdoor attire knee-deep in his produce on the Kingfisher Project allotments, in Horninglow. His onions, lettuces, tomatoes and more, are then eagerly consumed by hungry customers in Trent & Dove’s Short Street Community Café, in Stapenhill, and our community hub in Winshill, across Burton.

As part of Volunteers’ Week which runs from 3rd to the 9th of June, Trent & Dove is highlighting the vital work its volunteers, such as Joan and Steve, put in day-in and day-out to ensure its community is supported and feels welcomed through a vast array of its exciting projects.

In all, Trent & Dove’s precious volunteers clocked up 8,721 hours of service last year! This is equivalent to a whole years’ worth of volunteering!

And there is something for everyone of all ages.

A 23-year-old volunteer has found his autism and Asperger’s does not stand in his way while chatting to customers and helping behind the scenes in one of our cafes.

Having only recently started his volunteering, he already feels his independence and confidence is building.

He said: “It is a really nice atmosphere here. I love talking to the customers, they have different people coming in. I can point people in the right direction if they need help. It has given me more independence and confidence.”

At 83, Joan is keeping fit and active, peeling potatoes while chatting to her friends in the café.

In between preparing food for the Supper Club at the Winshill hub, Joan said: “It is wonderful being a volunteer. This gives me more opportunities to chat to people.

“Everyone is so friendly, and this gives me something to do, and I am not on my own.”

Having recently received a special recognition award at Trent & Dove’s Impact on the Community Awards, Steve Shelley is a real community champion, volunteering at the Kingfisher Project allotments, in Burton, for 10 years.

His produce is sent to the cafes, and any leftovers appear at Trent & Dove’s Community Fridge which can be taken by anyone in need.

Trent & Dove also welcomes community groups such as the Prince’s Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh Award youngsters who give their time generously, helping clear overgrown gardens, litter picking, weeding and much more.

Volunteers have worked hard to turn the Kingfisher Project from an empty space into an environmental and educational project that brings together communities and agencies. In 2016, it won a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Another outdoor project connected to Trent & Dove is Sow and Grow, in Uttoxeter.

Rachel Thompson became a volunteer following the death of her mother and needed something to occupy her.

Qualifications in horticulture and horticulture therapy, coupled with a passion to get the community involved in working outdoors and enjoy gardening, Rachel can often be seen at Sow and Grow not only tending to her plants but helping others to grow their love of the outdoors.

After contacting Trent & Dove about a piece of land close to her home which wasn’t being used, she turned it into a community garden, and this began her love of volunteering.

She said: “It’s been so nice to get involved with the community. I feel such a sense of achievement by helping others. I have made some wonderful friends within Trent & Dove and in the community from the work I do.

“To feel a sense of achievement every time I go out and help someone else – there isn’t anything quite like it.

“Volunteering has opened so many wonderful doors for me. It’s helped me keep focused and positive when, at times, I could have been at home feeling low and depressed.

“Anyone thinking of volunteering go and try it. You won’t regret it at all.”

Trent & Dove offers its volunteers the chance to meet new people; to work as part of a team; learn new skills and gain work experience; get involved within their communities; access training, life skills support and expenses; and a step to employment.

It also means volunteers can help make their community a better place to live while having fun and gaining valuable experience. Did you know that volunteering can also improve your mental and physical health?

And there is so much variety at Trent & Dove due to its long list of community services. There is something for everyone of all ages whether that it means helping out once a month or every day.


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