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The Neighbourly blog - Neighbourly Read the Neighbourly blog for all our news, advice and resources about fundraising, volunteering and surplus campaigns Blog | neighbourly

How to get fit and do good

We know how it is: you are busy. Not only are you trying to make a living, you also have to fit in your social life, keep in contact with your loved ones and stay fit and healthy. Doing good? Well, sometimes there’s just no time.

This is where GoodGym comes in.

GoodGymers get fit by doing good. Instead of expending energy in gyms and on treadmills, they put their energy into our local community. Combine this with getting to do it with a bunch of like-minded individuals and you have a three-in-one combo - socialising, keeping fit and volunteering - tick, tick, tick.


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And once you get a taste of GoodGym, you will see that it’s so much more than just a way of increasing your step-count. As well as weekly Group Runs to help a local community project, GoodGym focuses on helping vulnerable older people through tackling loneliness and isolation.

Runners can get involved in Coach Runs, where they get paired with an isolated older person that they run to visit once a week. You can also go on Missions, running in a pair to help an older person with a one-off task, such as moving their bed downstairs or clearing their garden.

GoodGym leaves regular running clubs behind it in a puff of good-willed smoke. It becomes a way to connect with your community while achieving your own fitness goals and making a real difference to local people and your area.

And for the community groups that need that help? GoodGym knows how stretched they can be - funds have been cut, volunteers don’t have much time, there is often so much to do you don’t know where to begin.

GoodGym can help: they are always looking for new projects to support, and really know how true the saying ‘many hands make light work’ can be. They help everything from established charities to one-person community projects. Get in touch to get support from the group and you could have a bunch of runners volunteering for you in no time. 

Shona is Trainer of GoodGym Bristol. GoodGym has locations all across England and in Cardiff. To get involved with your local GoodGym as a runner or to get help from your local group, take a look at the website: www.goodgym.org

Shona Buchanan

Community engagement

Aug 1, 2018

A look back at #MarksinAction – Marks and Spencer’s epic volunteering programme

June 2018 saw Marks and Spencer take on their #MarksinAction volunteering campaign in partnership with Neighbourly, which involved thousands of staff across the country lending a helping hand to over 685 community projects. The programme, which ran from the 18th to 22nd June, brought local stores and charities together to benefit the local community. During the week, over 5,000 staff spent over 40,000 hours participating in transformation projects nationwide, including refurbishing spaces and gardens, helping with food redistribution projects and giving skills-based support.

The feedback has been amazing, with so many tweets and messages of thanks from the charities about the transformations that happened. Here are just a few of the wonderful projects that took part.

Cliff Top Kennels Re-forming Centre, Scarborough

This small, dedicated charity work to re-home unwanted, abandoned and stray dogs with a loving family. On 20th June, eight M&S volunteers revamped a static caravan used for charity committee meetings for training some of their rescue dogs and also created a beautiful garden in front. M&S provided a £500 donation for the materials to complete the project and volunteers got to work stripping wallpaper and re-covering walls, as well as weeding and planting flowers to transform the caravan and the land around it. The staff at Cliff Top Kennels Re-homing Centre said: “All of us would like to say a massive thank you to the team from M&S Scarborough who spent the day with us on Wednesday as part of M&S Making Every Moment Special campaign. You worked so hard, were a pleasure to work alongside and have made a huge difference. We really appreciate it."


cliff top


Remember When Group and Carers Café, Leeds

In Leeds, this group supports people with dementia and their carers, though activities that stimulate the brain. They meet once a fortnight and promote wellbeing and fun through their range of activities such as walking, quizzes, chatting, movement to music and singing. As part of #MarksinAction, a group of M&S volunteers helped to renovate a room in an old pub to be used as a community centre. Staff cleaned, tidied and painted the room to provide the charity with the ability to expand their popular table tennis group. Remember When Group and Carers café were thrilled with the volunteers efforts: “It’s great to see business supporting the voluntary sector. Thank you to the Guiseley M&S team for making such a huge difference to our room. It has been tidied, cleaned, painted and bunting added. It looks completely different and amazing. We'll be having the table tennis there from now on."


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Embankment Garden, Broadstairs

This project, run by the charity Broadstairs Town Team, saw staff transform an unused piece of land to be used and loved by community members. By improving this open space in the heart of the town, it will improve wellbeing and access to open spaces by under-represented groups. M&S staff helped on the 18th June to create a quiet space for plants and wildlife by tidying, painting, wedding and planting garden borders. Broadstairs Town Team said: “We are lucky enough to be part of the Neighbourly scheme, and a fabulous group of volunteers from the local Thanet Marks and Spencer came to help. It was a fantastic effort from everyone - working in very warm conditions, so much weeding, clearing and support for our project. Thank you to everyone that came and have made such a difference. It looks so much better!"



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See more photos from the Embankment Garden transformation.


Nationwide, over 685 charities and community groups were helped by their local Marks and Spencer stores as they embarked on one of their most ambitious volunteering programmes yet.

Carmel McQuaid, M&S Head of Sustainable Business, Plan A at M&S, explains how there's huge benefits for the business too: "Volunteering isn't just for retirement. There’s a popular misconception that people with full time jobs haven’t got the time to volunteer. Not only do they have to work full time, but the time it takes to research and organise an opportunity can put people off. However, it's certainly not how we see it here at M&S. Yes, our priority is to ensure the shop floor is always fully staffed, and we need to make sure the customer service centre is always manned and the website can never go down. But with good planning and thinking differently about how we deliver volunteering opportunities, it can be used to motivate colleagues and bring out the best in them. Volunteering adds value in many ways - teaching new skills, helping people learn how to problem solve, fostering social connections and ultimately improving job satisfaction and wellbeing."

See more inspiring stories of what 40,000 hours can achieve in one week on the #MarksinAction hashtag.

See all the projects involved on the Neighbourly campaign page.


Article contributed by Emma Dunn

Jane

Content Manager

Jul 10, 2018

New calculations for reporting on the amounts of food surplus redistributed

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Most organisations involved in the redistribution of surplus food, including Governments and the charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) are currently reporting on the amounts of food that are redistributed – usually in tonnage and a conversion of that tonnage into its ‘meals’ equivalent. On the Neighbourly website we record surplus in tonnes, and then convert this to number of meals to display on our company and branch pages. The Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group, led by WRAP, have recently agreed that there is inconsistency in how the amount of food redistributed is being conveyed by the different parties involved and that this should be addressed.

There are two main ways the amounts of food redistributed are referred to:

·        As a weight (tonnes; kilogrammes)

·        As an equivalent number of meals

So far, a range of different factors for the conversion of weight into the number of equivalent meals have been used (for example 450g, 500g, 700g), which has made comparisons and reporting difficult. Following consultation with the Working Group, a review of relevant scientific literature and reference books and discussion with Public Health England, WRAP has recommended the use of 420g as a guide for the ‘average’ meal size, for the purposes of illustrating the amounts of food being redistributed. There is currently no official figure for an ‘average’ meal weight (due to the many factors that influence that, such as the meal occasion, the meal type, the individual), but there is research that can be used to create a sensible figure for expressing food surplus as ‘meal equivalents’.

In line with WRAP’s recommendation, Neighbourly will now be reporting meal equivalents using 420g as a meal size – giving 2,381 meals from 1 tonne of surplus. It’s important to note that this number is a guide only – it does not imply that this many balanced meals could be made from the food surplus but illustrates what the amount of food surplus might equate to.

To date (June 2018) the Neighbourly food surplus scheme has supported the redistribution of over 2,360 tonnes of surplus food, the equivalent of around 5.6 million meals, using this new calculation.

Further information can be found on the WRAP website.

Jane

Content Manager

Jun 28, 2018

M&S launches #MarksinAction

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This month sees Marks & Spencer launch one of their biggest, most ambitious volunteering programmes to date. During one week only from 18th to 22nd June M&S, in partnership with Neighbourly, will facilitate the mass mobilisation of thousands of colleagues across the country. Inspired by programmes like DIY-SOS, small teams from stores are coming together to deliver transformation challenges set by local charities.

Projects have been created that will create a lasting benefit to a local charity or community organisation and a huge range of events have been planned – from revamping community centres, to hosting tea parties for vulnerable members of the community, to visual merchandising of charity shops. Overall, the programme is delivering opportunities for over 5,000 staff, involving over 40,000 volunteer hours & over 685 community projects – from Scotland all the way down to Cornwall and across to Ireland. Each charity is also being given a donation to help make the event a success.

Here are some wonderful examples…


Farms for City Children Garden Transformation

This farmstead dating back to 1284, on a headland near St David's is the most westerly farm in Wales. At Lower Treginnis, Farms for City Children works in partnership with organic farmer Rob Davies, who keeps 850 sheep and a small herd of Hereford X calves on the surrounding land.

Farms for City Children was founded in 1976 by children’s author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, and since this time the charity has expanded to have three farms, of which Lower Treginnis is one. The charity offers children the opportunity to live and work together for a week at a time on a real farm in the heart of the countryside. It is an intense, ‘learning through doing’ experience of a different life – for children who may not know where their food comes from and have limited opportunities to explore the outside world. This project aims to enhance their experience and give children an opportunity to see various stages of growth with the plants. They get the chance to look after the gardens whilst staying on the farm. In addition, the children help look after poultry, horses, donkeys, goats and a breeding herd of pigs. The Pembrokeshire farm currently has 1,000 children staying on it every year, along with their teachers, as they come out from cities to see where their food comes from and how farms work. This event on Friday 22nd June will involve M&S volunteers making hanging baskets for the walled garden and courtyard, as well as creating new garden beds for the larger garden for the inner-city children to enjoy while they stay on the farm.



Lower Treginnis - Farms for City Children


Summer Solstice Afternoon Tea at the Salvation Army Penrith

This charity are the food bank distributors in Penrith, Cumbria. They allocate food to the needy in the area and also run events throughout the week, and church services on a Sunday. To celebrate the arrival of summer, they are putting on a tea party for the local community on summer solstice, Thursday 21st June. On the day, M&S volunteers will spend the morning sorting through food donations and prepare food parcels to be distributed to local vulnerable people, whilst the venue will be busy with a toddler group. In the afternoon, the group will then prepare food for a tea party, lay tables, serve and talk to people from across the community.



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Loveworks, Surrey

Loveworks exists to help people experiencing food poverty, social isolation/loneliness or domestic abuse. They also help give a confidence boost to young people to help them unlock their potential. They give six weeks support from their three food banks in Reigate and Merstham – last year helping 1100 people including 330 children. Last year they also launched The Merstham Mix community café to help more people and tackle a growing food waste problem in the community. As well as this they run a ‘cuppa tea club’ which supports older people, providing opportunities for excursions and different activities each month. The club is run by volunteers who sit, chat and be social with guests providing an opportunity for older people to be active and social. For young adults they offer both 1-2-1 personal development coaching and group workshops for those who may be struggling with confidence and transitioning into further education or the work place. M&S will be working with Loveworks on Friday 22nd June to get the orders ready for its Saturday food bank in Merstham, where locals will be coming to collect food to take home to their families. Then back at the charity’s offices, M&S volunteers will also compile information packs for two of Loveworks’ major fundraising events over the weekend.



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We’d like to wish all the charities and volunteers a fabulous week!


Follow all the action on #MarksInAction

Jane

Content Manager

Jun 18, 2018

Starbucks Community Café programme expands to support 20 cafes

Mint Lane Cafe

This week sees Starbucks UK, in partnership with Neighbourly, launch the second phase of its successful Community Café programme. This latest expansion will add a further sixteen cafes to the four already being supported by the scheme since August 2017.

The projects being supported are all not-for-profit cafes, based within community spaces up and down the UK – you can see the latest ones to join the scheme on Neighbourly. Starbucks will be supporting each one through their local stores with donations of essentials like tea, coffee, milk jugs, syrups and cups – for which they will be able to make regular orders. Local stores also hope to offer the support of their staff teams through training and volunteering.

Across the country, these community cafés have come to life in response to the individual needs of a local community. They are all run not-for-profit, with the focus being all about the benefits to the local community – providing good quality, healthy food and drink options at reasonable prices or on a pay-what-you-can basis for those who can’t afford. They all have a strong social angle – acting as sociable, safe and welcoming meeting space for different community groups – with a focus on community cohesion and inclusion.

The K9 café in Ely – one of the latest 16 to be supported by Starbucks – started life as the brain wave of Chris Kent who had been running employability training for adults; ‘The café gave us all a continuing safe place to meet, a chance to practice and develop skills and confidence in the real world – but in supportive environment. Gradually a team of volunteers emerged, who now run the cafe with my support and we’ve been going for over 3 years. People drop in to the cafe to meet other people – some bring their dogs, some do not have a dog of their own but love them, so they can come and share other people’s dogs. We get a wide range of people come the cafe – from elderly people with dementia, young people on work experience, people learning difficulties, physical disabilities, mental health problems, social isolation, wheelchair users, people with autism, homeless people. Many have lifelong conditions and coming to the cafe helps alleviate loneliness and social isolation. Of course, the dogs are the bridge between the people – the glue that holds it all together, the ice-breaker, the thing everyone can talk about and enjoy being with. We don’t get any regular funding – our only income is through proceeds from the tea/coffee we sell, and we try and keep our prices low as most of our customers are on low incomes. Starbucks support means we can maximise the incomes from hot drinks which will be such a help.’

Over in Lincoln, the Mint Lane Cafe is a social eating café that uses retail surplus food, cooked and served by volunteers. Part of the growing “Superkitchen” network, the Café receives deliveries of food which is destined for waste, from local suppliers. From this they prepare and serve fresh nutritious lunches at affordable prices three days a week. It also offers surplus food for sale on a “Pay as You Feel” basis. As well as this they have a highly successful “Pay it Forward” scheme through which customers can donate a meal to someone who cannot afford it themselves. Vouchers are issued for every £3 donated, then distributed through partner agencies to people at risk of food poverty – giving them a free 3 course meal from the day’s menu at the café. The café is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 3pm, with the menu changing daily according to what rescued food arrives.

Charles Cooke, the Mint Lane Café manager tells us; ‘The primary purpose of the cafe is to provide a warm and welcoming environment for people who use the centre, as well as reducing food waste and fighting food poverty. The café relies on many volunteers undertaking a variety of roles; cooking, serving, managing food donations, cleaning, collecting local food surpluses and in the back office. I love watching the transformations of people… staff, volunteers and customers as they grow, become more confident and develop new friendships. We give a warm welcome at the door for everybody and especially those who might be a bit nervous about new places and new people. Large tables encourage people to sit together and make friends.’

Possobilities, further north in Glasgow, is a small social enterprise café which caters to everyone in the community, but mainly people with disabilities. The café serves 70 people each day and offers a safe place for local people to come and meet without any prejudice. Jim McCabe runs the café with 10 volunteers; ‘Our café is not for profit, so any generated income is always a bonus. Many of our members and customers are on low incomes so a Starbucks coffee is seen as a real luxury. We have won the Glasgow Evening Times Community Champions Award for our initiative and we’re about to launch a specially adapted Gym for people with disabilities that we have been fundraising nearly 4 years for.’

 

Support the campaign

You can support your local community cafe by popping in for a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe you could ‘pay-it-forward’ for a future customer in need. You'll find the cafes taking part in this programme on the campaign page - with more being added in the coming months. Follow and share their project pages across your social channels with the hashtag #StarbucksCommunityCafe to make more people aware of the amazing work they do.

If you're a community cafe looking for support, get in touch: starbucks@neighbourly.com

Jane

Content Manager

May 9, 2018

Win tickets and boxes to Wembley Stadium events with #MiniPitches

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The Football Association and their delivery partner The Football Foundation have partnered with Neighbourly to launch #MiniPitches - a programme to help schools and communities part-fund their own 3G football pitch. The pitches will enable schools to provide before, after school and lunchtime clubs with improved facilities to increase pupils’ participation in sport. The ambition is for the pitches to benefit the wider community too, with adult sport organisations and grassroots clubs using the facility at evenings and weekends.

Seven schools are fundraising between now and May 2018 to support their application to the Football Foundation to deliver an exciting new multi-use pitch.

To support the campaign we've launched an exciting range of prize draws for business and individual donors - with all donations qualifying for entry to fantastic prize draws, including signed England shirts and VIP Wembley tickets.


The Mini Pitch Prizes


Emirates FA Cup Semi Final - 8-person box to the game on either 21st or 22nd April

2 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 12th April 2018


SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 5th May - 8-person box at Wembley

3 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £100 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 20th April 2018.


Emirates Men's FA Cup Final General Admission ticket – 1 x pair 19th May

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria x 5 tickets

7 prizes (of 5 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 17th May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria - 3 x 8-person box with food at Wembley

1 Grand Prize of all 3 boxes to be won

This grand prize will be won by the business or individual that makes the highest donation to a participating school's Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or directly to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 11th May 2018.


Ed Sheeran concert tickets Saturday 16th June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Taylor Swift concert tickets Saturday 23rd June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Tickets to NFL Autumn game on 21st or 28th October 2018 – 1 x pair

2 prizes (of 2 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


Tickets to the Rugby Challenge Cup Final on 25th August 2018

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.

 

Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

4 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever an individual makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 2nd May 2018.


Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

3 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a registered business makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 29th February 2018 and closes 15th June 2018.


Terms & Conditions for all prize draws and grand prize entry can be found here: Mini Pitch Prize Draw T&Cs


Donations can be be by visiting the campaign page, scrolling down to choose a participating school and clicking on 'donate'.


Any queries should be sent to support@neighbourly.com


Best of luck!

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 10, 2018

CAST help for smaller charities

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CAST, the independent Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology, is stepping up its support for smaller charities – and it wants to talk to them direct ahead of the launch of a new dedicated accelerator programme this summer.

It’s an often overlooked fact, but the vast majority of the UK charity sector is small, with 97% of organisations having an annual income of below £1m. Despite their size, these organisations play a critical role in championing and safeguarding some of the most vulnerable people in society. But in the digital world, tiny organisations with limited resources can feel overwhelmed.

That’s why CAST, the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology, is focusing much of its work in 2018 on small charities.

CAST (itself a charity), helps people use digital for social good. It supports non-profits to embed digital and design across their services, strategy and governance - working with sector leaders, funders and government.

Since 2015 CAST has worked with more than 300 non-profits of varying sizes, supporting them through its programmes to become more resilient and responsive to the needs of their communities. It has helped the likes of Breast Cancer Care, Action for Children, Refugee Action and NCVO.

CAST already helps charities like these to create digital products and services, through its established Fuse accelerator. Now it is creating a Fuse for Smaller Charities accelerator programme, due for kick-off in July.

To help them understand how best to support smaller organisations, across April and May CAST is opening up its phone lines to talk to charities about their ambitions for digital, the challenges they face and what they think would help them achieve their vision.

These 30-minute research calls will also form the first stage of recruitment for the new accelerator programme. “We want to make sure we get it right,” says CAST. “In return we’ll share our knowledge, expertise and connections. If we can’t help directly, we’ll aim to signpost to others who can.”

If you are part of a smaller charity looking for support, you can book a call with CAST direct, via Calendly.


Check out CAST’s newly refreshed website, at www.wearecast.org.uk


Original article from: Digital Agenda

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 5, 2018

Transform a shared space near you with a free Grow Wild seed kit

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Neighbourly has joined forces with Grow Wild to change lives and transform spaces with UK native wildflowers. It is the biggest initiative of its kind and you can be a part of it!

You’re invited to find an urban space and turn it into a colourful wildflower haven for the whole community to enjoy and benefit from.

You don’t need growing experience - just enthusiasm, a shared space to transform and a group of people to help make it happen!

Apply now using their online form. Or visit the Grow Wild website to find out more.


Making an even bigger difference in 2018 

This year, Grow Wild is asking people to share the ‘before’ pictures of their space: to see and celebrate how UK native wildflowers can turn grey into green, red, blue and all the colours of nature.

Bringing people together, getting active and growing as a group, giving back through volunteering: all of these things can improve health and wellbeing. And by creating these pockets of wild beauty for your neighbours and friends, you will be contributing to their wellbeing too.


What's in the Grow Wild seed kit?         

  • Successful applicants will all receive an ‘essential’ seed kit, which has extra help and guidance on planning and realising your transformation project.
  •  Successful applicants will also receive one, two or three ‘participant’ kits, depending on how many people you expect to be part of the project. These kits have extra seeds and other resources to engage more people.
  •  Wildflower seeds native to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have been tested by the scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lots of ideas on how to involve people in your transformation project and keep them engaged.

Applications close on 11th March 2018, and Grow Wild will let you know if your application is successful a few days later in time for the sowing season. We look forward to seeing your spaces!


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Jane

Content Manager

Mar 6, 2018

There's no place like home

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24 Feb - 3 March 2018 is Homelessness Awareness Week in our home town of Bristol - an annual campaign to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. 

Homelessness is continuing to rise and is now at its highest rate since the ‘90s. It's estimated that over 60% of homelessness is 'hidden', with people finding temporary solutions to to avoid the dangers of the streets. This recent article from the BBC: You're on the verge of losing everything - but you don't understand why really touched us, and provides great insight into how easily a run of bad luck could happen to any one of us.

You may have already seen or donated to our campaign 'No Place Like Home' which we've been running over the winter months. The campaign is helping to raise essential funds for a collection of small, front-line homelessness organisations accross the UK. These groups are working day and night, rain and shine, to support people with nowhere to call home - giving them respite from hunger and assault and providing a launchpad to local housing options and support services.

As we enter one of the coldest week's of the year, please spare a few minutes to share the campaign page or any of the participating project pages on your TwitterFacebook or other social channels. If you'd like to make a donation, please choose a project from the campaign page and press 'Support this project': www.neighbourly.com/NoPlaceLikeHome

Jane

Content Manager

Feb 27, 2018

How To: Help Your Local Animal Shelter

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Britain is a nation of animal lovers and if you're anything like me (jumping for joy at every dog you come across in the street), then helping out at your local animal shelter is a great way to spend some free time.

Unfortunately there's a variety of reasons a pet can end up in a shelter. The obvious ones are the worst: cases of abuse and neglect. But sometimes it could be that the owner has passed away and there's nowhere left for their pet to go. The owner might have developed a serious or long term illness which means they can't care for them properly anymore.

There are often more of these cases than there are spaces in animal shelters. Staff at these animal shelters rely on donations to help keep doors open and volunteers to help them with their day to day care of the animals.

So what can you do to help?

Social media: they say charity starts at home, or in some cases, wherever you are with your mobile phone! You can start by sharing updates from your local shelter or adoption profiles on your social media channels. We know that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. are huge sources of information for most folks these days. Imagine you share little Bubbles' adoption profile on your Instagram tomorrow and next week she's off to her forever home because of it!

Photography: another useful and super fun activity you can volunteer for. For every pet up for adoption, a new mugshot is needed. Pets need to look their best for their adoption profiles and your photograph might capture the smile somebody has been looking for. Good quality photos of day to day activities, staff, volunteers and housing at the charity will also be really useful for the shelter to use for their own social media channels.

Transport: do you have a car? Transporting animals is a key need for charities - they need transport to get to the vet or maybe their new foster home. What better companion on the road riding shotgun than a four legged friend?

Socialising: this one is everyone's favourite! Dogs and cats need socialising to help them alleviate loneliness and distress that often comes with the shift from home to shelter life. Dogs will need exercising and cats will need cuddling - this human contact also helps them build on becoming more comfortable with new and different people.

Donating items: by donating stuff this means the charity doesn't need to use hard earned monetary donations on the purchasing of items when it could be used towards something crucial like vet bills. It's always best to check with your local shelter what they need, but they will always welcome beds, blankets, toys, cat litter and food etc. Well loved and used items are fine but make sure they're still in a relatively good condition. I'm sure you wouldn't want to sleep in a bed that's been chewed to pieces either!


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DIY skills: if you're good with your hands or have a group of friends willing to help, then skills like gardening and carpentry are always appreciated. There will always be bits that need mending - fences to put up, walls to paint, plants to prune! Gardening will also help the premises look more homely for its residents and provide lots of smells for the ones who like to follow their noses.

Laundry: this is probably one you haven't thought of before, but can you imagine how many blankets, towels and beds need washing? This one is sure to score you some brownie points, even if it's just volunteering half an hour to come in and throw a few loads in the washing machine. It means another member of staff can use that time to exercise a few extra animals - or just give them a well earned break.

Fundraising: this is obvious but vital to keep a shelter running. More often than not they rely on donations from generous donors and fundraisers or local grants. But with budgets being cut all over the nation, it's getting increasingly more difficult. These donations help to feed animals, pay for expensive vet bills and keeping the premises warm and running. Most staff work on a voluntary basis because there just aren't enough funds to go around, but these people give their time to work each day around the clock. There are a million ways to fundraise! From a bake sale at your local supermarket (remember to ask their permission first) to an epic skydive wearing a cat costume - it's all for a great cause and you'll have a blast doing it.

Fostering: this comes with some measure of responsibility and won't suit everyone. You'll likely need to be someone who's home a lot so that when your new furry housemate comes to stay, you can help them adjust and relax. Fostering is a great way to get animals used to human contact and the comings and goings of home life and is vital when the shelter runs out of room for the next animal who needs it. Who knows, you may find that having them around isn't so bad and they might be able to join your family full time :)

Take a look at some of our animal rescue on projects and see how you can help!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


Sophie Cook

Community Manager

Feb 1, 2018