Islington Volunteers

Here are 6 amazing volunteers from across the community centres in the network. Read on for their inspirational stories below.


Annabelle volunteers at Centre 404, an Islington based charity that supports people with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. Annabelle was inspired to

start volunteering by her sister who has Downs Syndrome and autism. She saw the support her sister received and it inspired her to be part of it. Usually Annabelle helps with the group activities, but because of coronavirus these are no longer running. Annabelle is still volunteering and has been getting involved in several new ways, including creating thank you packages for frontline workers, food shopping and phoning people who may be feeling isolated and alone.

Annabelle says “…it’s great to see friendships blossoming and some growth in independence and confidence when doing different activities. It’s great to know that you are providing some entertainment and an outlet that people look forward to, and rely on, especially when someone might have had not such a good day until then.” Annabelle fits volunteering in around her job and at first she was worried about how it would work with the time commitment, but she says most places are quite flexible and really do need the help so they can often work out something to suit you and the charity


Nia volunteers at the Hornsey Lane Estate Community Centre, which until very recently was a nursery and a play scheme which also ran activities for the local community including cookery classes and seaside trips for older people, baby massage classes for new parents and an advice service. Since the coronavirus crisis, it has become an emergency food bank and Nia is now one of the leading co-ordinators. The centre started off feeding just a few homes at the beginning of the pandemic and is now providing food for over 130 local households. Nia says: ‘The sense of community and coming together to help has been overwhelming – it’s been incredible.’


Nia says the work can be difficult and sometimes she worries people who need help are missed out, but that overall, it’s very rewarding. She says: ‘It’s also just amazing for your own wellbeing being constantly active and busy helps keep the mind healthy and happy.’ Nia is completing a Health and Social Policy degree and using her experience volunteering at the food bank as part of her research for her degree. She would recommend volunteering to anyone thinking about it, she says she’s learnt new skills and her experiences could lead to new employment opportunities.


Paul and Simren

Paul started volunteering for Islington charity Help on Your Doorstep when the coronavirus pandemic began. He has shopped for people who can’t leave their home and worked as a telephone befriender, speaking to people on a regular basis who may be struggling at home and feeling isolated and alone. He enjoys hearing people’s stories and learning more about those in his local community. Paul says: ‘I often have the sense at the end of a call that the person perhaps feels a little happier than at the beginning of the call, perhaps simply as a result of speaking to someone else.’ Paul was inspired to volunteer now as he had previously volunteered supporting people with learning difficulties and remembered how fulfilling and worthwhile he had found that work. Paul would like to carry on volunteering after the current crisis is over.

Simren started volunteering for Islington charity Help on Your Doorstep when the coronavirus pandemic began. She’s lived in Islington for just two and a half years and has volunteered before, she got involved with Help on Your Doorstep as she wanted to support her local community during lockdown. Simren has been supporting an elderly gentleman in her local area. So far, she has managed to get him connected to the internet, collected prescriptions for him from the hospital and speaks to him at least twice a week to check he is OK and keep him company. She says: ‘He’s the most delightful individual and we’ve become good friends.’ He is looking forward to cooking some Greek food for her when the pandemic is over and Simren says they will remain friends after the lockdown has ended.


Gabriella volunteers at Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, a local community centre in the north of the borough. Gabriella started as a volunteer receptionist and telephone befriender and as the lockdown continued, she has also become involved in the emergency food distribution which packs up 200 food parcels each week for local residents in need. The centre has turned itself into an emergency food distribution centre in a matter of weeks and moved all their client facing work online. Gabriella says: ‘I feel very proud to be part of this process, knowing that this vital service is really making a difference for so many people who otherwise would be stuck at home with no access to fresh food and provisions.’

Gabriella had been wanting to volunteer for a while and do something that had a positive impact on her local community but wasn’t sure where to start. She saw the work that Manor Gardens Welfare Trust do on their website and visited the centre to ask if there were any volunteer opportunities and hasn’t looked back since! She says anyone thinking of volunteering should go for it, think about what skills or expertise you could offer an organisation and get in touch to see if there are any opportunities.  Gabriella says: ‘It is so rewarding to be part of an organisation that is having such a positive effect on the local community and I’ve got so much out of it.’


Charity has been volunteering with Islington charity Positively UK since 2007. Positively UK supports people living with HIV through peer lead support and works in partnership with the NHS. Charity supports people through all stages of diagnosis, offering peer support. She also works as a workshop facilitator and creative lead for Catwalk4Power, a peer support, arts empowerment and wellbeing project, amplifying the voice of women with HIV, funded by Public Health England Innovation Fund.  Take a look at the toolkit she co-created on how to develop a Catwalk4Power event here.

Charity volunteered for Positively UK after being diagnosed with HIV in 2003. She felt isolated and was referred to the charity for help. After a few months the charity suggested she apply to be a volunteer case worker. At the time she wasn’t able to work due to immigration issues and this was affecting her self-confidence. Being able to volunteer and help people gave her a purpose and in 2019 she won Voluntary Action Islington’s Volunteer of the Year Award!

Charity says: ‘Being welcomed with open arms by people around me, sharing my thoughts and experiences with others and being able to connect with and learn from people I work with as a volunteer has made volunteering one of the best decisions I have ever made!!’  Charity has met people from all walks of life through her volunteering and learnt new skills. She says it has made her happier, healthier and more in control of her life.