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.

Volunters weed in a greenhouse
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.

Age UK logo

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

Celebrating Thornbury fair: On 30 March, showcasing local clubs and societies & volunteering opportunities. More here.

Volunteer Managers’ Network: The next meeting, focussing on planning for Volunteer Week, has been arranged for Wednesday 6 March. Details here.

Help raise funds through AmazonSmile: If you shop at Amazon we are donated funds. More information.

Updated mailing list: You can now manage your subscription to our mailing list for yourself.

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

Support us via AmazonSmile at no cost to you.  

Thornbury Volunteer Centre is a registered charity, number 1180775. The Town Hall, 35 High Street, Thornbury, BS35 2AR. Hours: Monday‑Friday, 10.30‑12.00; Tel: 01454 413392

This site © Thornbury Volunteer Centre. Site design by Michael Quinion. Last updated 28 Apr. 2016.