Welcome to South London Cares. As a young organisation tackling some big challenges we’re always inspired to see new people joining our growing network and rolling up their sleeves to hang out with and help their older neighbours in Southwark and Lambeth – and get plenty in return. We’re very pleased to have you on board and look forward to getting to know you in the coming weeks and months.
South London Cares is a small community network of young professionals and older neighbours offering one another a little extra practical help, social connection and human companionship.
We focus on recruiting young professional volunteers because we know that many people living busy work and social lives want to be involved in their local community but find it difficult to do so.
For that reason we try to make our programmes as accessible as possible. Many of our activities occur during evenings and weekends, and we do not require you to commit to volunteering for weeks at a time unless you want to. We’ve also eliminated a lot of the paperwork, so we don’t require you to be CRB/DBS checked unless you want to support an individual through our “Love Your Neighbour” programme or by becoming an “SLC Organiser”. That means you can start straight away.
In turn, we ask our volunteers to stay in regular contact with South London Cares staff by phone and email so that we can plan activities and interactions to make them the very best they can be – and to ensure they are always improving the lives of our older neighbours. We also ask our volunteers to talk to us regularly so that we can build a genuine social network flexible to changing needs.
That means we can be agile to your needs and the needs of our older neighbours over time – but once you’ve committed to an activity, we’ll expect you to be there.
As you first get involved in South London Cares' network, you’re likely to volunteer under our “Social Clubs” programme. This project offers local younger and older people the chance to get out, to interact, and to share new experiences, skills and laughter in myriad community locations from Bermondsey to Brixton, East Dulwich to Elephant and Castle. These clubs might hook on one of the following activities:
These activities are run for medium-sized groups – normally 10-20 older people and 3-10 volunteers, although they can sometimes be bigger or smaller.
While the cultural exchange is important and we may ask you to help us make tea or offer around cake and sandwiches, we like to stress that the real value added for all participants is in the interactions you’ll have with your older neighbours, the conversations you’ll enjoy, and the benefit everyone gains from those connections.
For that reason we ask all our volunteers to be confident, to arrive with an open mind, and to sit and chat with your older neighbours. Ask them questions: how regularly do they join South London Cares’ events? Have they always lived around here? What did they do for a living?
And tell them about yourself too – people are interested to hear about your job, your family, your interests, what you got up to at the weekend, etc. Be sure to respond to your neighbours – if they want to follow up a topic of conversation, go with it; if they don’t, talk about something else.
A South London Cares member of staff or an “SLC Organiser” (a trained supervisor) will always be in attendance at each one of the “Social Clubs” you attend. You will know the name of this person before you get to the venue due to our communications with you ahead of time. Please announce yourself upon arrival at every venue and let the group leader know when you’re ready to leave – we don’t want anyone left behind!
In the interim, the group leader will help to facilitate conversations between people but feel free to be pro-active if there’s a lull in conversation.
The group leader is also important as a safety manager. If it’s your first time at a venue he or she will show you where the fire exit is in case of emergency. They will also be responsible for ensuring the venue is cleared in the agreed way, with lights off and doors locked and security alarms enabled. Please take direction from the group leader if they need your help with these matters.
Apart from that, you’re going to have a great time – so sit back, relax, converse and get ready to build some relationships with some truly inspiring people.
Just bear in mind the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of our Code of Conduct before you start (by attending any South London Cares activity you are agreeing to this code):
Once you have been volunteering with South London Cares for a while through our “Social Clubs” programme you may like to participate in our “Love Your Neighbour” project as well. This is where we match individual volunteers to individual older neighbours who are often housebound or otherwise isolated, so that you can offer a little practical support around the house, or just a little companionship and company to someone who needs a friend.
Our older neighbours who we engage through the “Love Your Neighbour” programme may be a little more frail or vulnerable than those who join our “Social Clubs”. We therefore require a little more commitment from volunteers who would like to support someone in this way. In particular, we need a DBS check before we can leave you alone with one of your neighbours. Although it takes a little back- and-forth and a few documents we can normally confirm a DBS check within two weeks, and we can still make an introduction to someone who we may think is a good fit for you in the meantime. We’ll do this as a team so it’s a nice informal introduction.
In addition, we need Love Your Neighbour volunteers to make a commitment, if you are willing to, to see your new friend regularly. This may be once a month, once a fortnight or once a week – we’ll agree that together. But we do need to know that you can be where you say you’re going to be and at a regular given time. And we'll need to know, by text or email, whenever you've visited your neighbour and how they're getting on.
If you would like to be part of the Love Your Neighbour project, please email [email protected], who’ll let you know much more.
We now train some of our most committed volunteers to be “SLC Organisers”. This is a special position that offers volunteers who want to give more the chance to step even closer inside the SLC family – to be trained to run events under the South London Cares banner as “group leaders” themselves, to set up their own activities, to administer parts of our database in order to mobilise volunteers directly, and to ensure events are run smoothly – five times a year or more (whatever you can give).
In return, we will ensure our “SLC Organisers” have all the tools and contacts they need to run successful events.
“Organisers” will also receive the maximum SLC love: a unique t-shirt, a mug, a certificate and a professional reference from the charity as a thank you – and the warm glow of a job well done.
If you would like to train to become an “SLC Organiser” please contact [email protected].
What South London Cares does, and the issues we’re trying to tackle, are complicated. As with every walk of life some of our work may contain risks. Although we have developed a robust risk assessment and policy framework to ensure that, where possible, all potentially harmful situations are avoided, mitigated or managed, we cannot avoid every eventuality – and you are ultimately individually responsible for your own behaviour, possessions, health and safety.
To guide you in case of a serious health emergency, please see the First Aid basics at the end of this Volunteer Handbook – and remember: if someone is in trouble please call the emergency services immediately.
The need for First Aid is extremely rare. However, given the people we work with, we need to know how to react if an emergency may arise. South London Cares' core staff are all Emergency First Trained as part of their first month induction on the team. But so that you, as a volunteer, are aware of how you can help please consider the following in case of emergency.
THE THREE Cs.
CARING FOR AN UNCONSCIOUS PERSON
TREATING SPECIFIC PROBLEMS