Opportunity Croydon: The first step to a better Croydon is more volunteers

By - Tuesday 20th October, 2015

Jonny Rose calls forth an army of volunteers from Croydon’s society

British Volunteer recruits in London, August 1914, who would form Kitchener’s New Army.
Photo public domain.

We need more volunteers in Croydon

Last week, the Croydon Opportunity and Fairness Commission set up by the council released its interim report, Building A Better Croydon For Everyone.

At sixty pages long and drawing from the responses of over 3,000 Croydonians, the report makes for some interesting reading. However, by far the most arresting point in the entire document is made by Pat, a Scouts volunteer in South Norwood:

Croydon would be a better place if we had more volunteers… because there’s so much, there’s such a breadth of opportunity. [Volunteering] can help people get jobs, get confident, become a family, make friends, learn things themselves… it’s about receiving back as well – it’s a two-way thing. We don’t have to be prime ministers, we don’t have to be MPs, we can do our little bit in our little way and it all adds up to the big picture… It’s like a jigsaw – we can all be a little bit of the jigsaw puzzle.”

The benefits of volunteering

Firstly, volunteering is good for skill development. Always wanted to learn about sustainability and conservation methods? Have experience creating podcasts and would like to try using them as an advocacy tool for a nonprofit? Volunteering helps you learn new skills, keep skills sharp, or use existing skills in new ways.

Secondly, volunteering can help your career. Volunteering can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular role or sector (particularly if you are coming from a for-profit job and hoping to switch to nonprofit or government), workplace or office culture, or cause. Also, never underestimate the power of networking; volunteering offers the opportunity to cross paths – as well as, in many cases, quickly bond – with people from across your community, including many with whom you may otherwise not have had contact.

Thirdly, volunteering is a boon for personal growth. Depending on what and where you choose to volunteer, hands-on experience can teach you about issues ranging from adult literacy to public health to animal welfare.

Also, it’s a great opportunity to break from the norm – avoid being boring in Croydon – and socialise. In addition to professional networking, volunteering can be a fun, meaningful way to make new friends. New to Croydon? Looking to branch out socially? Simply looking for something to do with new people? Volunteer and get to know others who care about the same issues that you do.

There are lots of places to volunteer in Croydon

There is no shortage of places and causes in Croydon that could benefit from you lending a hand.

Perhaps, you’re a technical wizard or business guru and you’d like to support Croydon Tech City’s efforts to build ‘the Silicon Valley of South London’. How about running a Code Club at your local primary school? Or putting on help us run more free classes in 2016?

I’ve written before on how loneliness plagues the lives of many Croydoners – particularly the elderly. Age UK Croydon runs a ‘Befriender’ scheme where volunteers make home visits to over-50s to do anything from administrative support to accompanying them to the shops. Contact The Elderly runs a similar scheme in Croydon, too. Why not dedicate three hours a month to do some volunteering through them?

Lots of people pay lip-service to how passionate they are about the NHS. Prove it. Spend a few hours a month with Croydon NHS on the wards, greeting visitors, and helping with admin.

These are just a few places that I can think of where you can make a difference in Croydon. The commission’s report states that there are over 1,700 voluntary organisations in the borough – you’re spoilt for choice!

Stop making excuses: go out and volunteer

If you’re reading the Croydon Citizen then it’s safe to assume that you’re a competent, functional member of society who takes an interest in their immediate area. But it’s not good enough to just ‘take an interest’ – your interest needs to translate into practical and tangible action.

Croydon won’t get any better with you only ever jetting between your work, your home and your nearest Tesco Express; bemoaning the state of the borough but never to be seen in the public realm doing anything material to change it. Stop making excuses: go out and volunteer.

The next Croydon Tech City event takes place on Thursday 22nd October, at 7:30pm at 3Space in Southern House. To register to attend, please go here.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • Anne Giles

    Describing the over 50s as elderly is a bit ageist, actually. I can’t imagine any of them needs to be accompanied to the shops or being befriended. I am 74 and certainly don’t need either. :-)

  • Anne Giles

    Also – anyone between the ages of 50 and 65 is going to be working full time, commuting by public transport or driving to work and hardly needs befriending or escorted to the shops!

  • Stephen Giles

    I regret that this article falls under the category – occasional drivel !!