Castle in the Community

Having just completed its fifth year the Castle in the Community student volunteering scheme between Thornbury Volunteer Centre and the Castle School Sixth Form is growing in strength and success. The scheme encourages year-13 pupils into volunteering as part of their Extended Curriculum and helps students volunteer in their local community for two hours, once a week, during term time.

The scheme aims to enable young people to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The goal of this part of the curriculum is to develop student capacities such as resourcefulness, confidence, enthusiasm, participation, engagement, awareness and achievement.

Students are placed within different community organisations in the Thornbury and district area, and carry out a wide variety of tasks, from shop work to befriending, marketing to fundraising, gardening to maintenance work, from supporting children and adults with disabilities to maintaining our heritage.

Castle School volunteers at the Sheiling School

The benefits to students and organisations are immense. The students gain valuable work experience and life skills and the organisations increase capacity and gain additional volunteer help. The awareness of the work carried out by the Volunteer Centre is enhanced and Castle School’s links with the local community are strengthened.

Many of the students who have participated in the scheme over the past five years are continuing to cite their experiences on their CVs and they all feel that this experience has been invaluable in helping them to progress their further education and career choices.

One year-13 volunteer describes her experiences with taking part in the Castle in the Community scheme:

I decided to volunteer at Age UK South Glos as I liked the idea of working with older people, especially helping to relieve their loneliness through telephone befriending.

On my first afternoon I was given a full induction which was helpful because it meant I wasn’t thrown in head first. I was then paired up with a client. During the first call I was slightly nervous but it was really interesting to talk to her and I looked forward to calling again; however, because of her circumstances this was not possible.

So I then undertook a variety of admin tasks, such as data inputting and spreadsheets, and was taught how to use the Charitylog management software, all of which I found interesting.

The two tasks I enjoyed most were sorting the “Big Knit Campaign” hats (because they were adorable) and writing Christmas cards to clients and thank you cards to volunteers. Everyone I met was really friendly and helpful and it was fascinating to find out how the charity helps older people in South Gloucestershire.

This experience has helped me develop my communication and organisational skills and made me aware of issues I didn’t know existed, such as the number of older people who are living alone and desperately want someone to talk to.

News & information

Christmas lunch: Our annual Christmas thank-you lunch 2017 draws 50+ local volunteers. More.

Alan Hudson Award 2017: We are proud to present the 2017 award for volunteering achievement to Thornbury Foodbank.

Christmas closing dates announced: Our office will be closed between 18 December and 1 January inclusive, reopening on Tuesday 2 January.

Fun and profit at the Swan! The Wednesday night quiz nights at the Swan during November raised £665 for our funds. More information.

Bags of help please! We have been chosen as a finalist in the Tesco Bags of Help scheme in its Thornbury store. More information.

Newsletter: Our 2017 newsletter has been published. Get it here.

Plans for 2018: Next year is our 30th anniversary. We plan events to bring organisations and volunteers closer together. Details here..

Personal Resilience and Stress Management Training: Tools to help you feel less stressed. 31 January 2018. More information.

Experiences: Michele tells how a local company restored her confidence and helped her back into work.

Volunteering opportunities: Most of our many volunteering opportunities are advertised nationally and can be searched online here. Some are advertised locally only and are listed here.

We’re on Facebook and Twitter: Follow us for news and events. And all our volunteering opportunities appear there as they’re published.

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Thornbury Volunteer Centre is a registered charity, number 1004285. This site © Thornbury Volunteer Centre. Site design by Michael Quinion. Last updated 28 Apr. 2016.