Volunteering to help make a difference across Sunderland

At the NHC one of our core values is ‘We Make a Difference’ – we consider the best interests of our members, the environment and society as a whole.

As part of staying true to our values, and linking to our wellbeing and sustainability work, earlier this week NHC staff spent an afternoon volunteering across various sites in Sunderland. We cleared weeds, picked rubbish, organised cupboards, sorted care packages, created decorations, trimmed bushes, planted flowers and built polytunnels…. and had a really good laugh too! We worked with Voluntary and Community Action Sunderland (VCAS) who represent Sunderland’s voluntary community sector to organise the volunteering activities.

The organisations we supported are doing amazing work across the city of Sunderland and beyond. They included: Young Asian Voices, St Luke’s Neighbourhood Trust, Donnison School and Heritage Centre, the Secret Garden and Groundworks North East.

 Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive, Northern Housing Consortium said:

“It was a huge honour to give back an afternoon of our time to help these incredible organisations and learn more about the amazing work they do. It was also fantastic for staff to get out and about and have some fun with their colleagues whilst doing something meaningful”.

Young Asian Voices (YAV) is an all-inclusive and multicultural youth and community organisation, going for 37 years, which works and supports young people as well as adults in the city of Sunderland. YAV delivers over 40 sessions and works with over 450 members on a weekly basis developing young people and transforming diverse communities through sport, employability, training, culture, youth empowerment and volunteering driving integration, inclusion, and empowerment.

“We spent a lovely afternoon learning about Young Asian Voices in Sunderland, creating decorative pieces for their upcoming projects and a session coming up with ideas to help them create (even more) impact with their amazing stories!” Claire Henderson, Head of Communications.

St Luke’s Neighbourhood Trust has been serving and supporting the local community of Pallion for over 20 years. They help to tackle the hardships in the area including poverty, poor mental health, poor heart health, isolation and loneliness. Some of the activities include holistic therapies such as reiki and sound bathing, men’s carpet bowls group , friendly group bingo, and their falls prevention exercise group.

“We were charged with litter picking the windswept grounds of the centre (including hero Matthew finding a stray tenner for them!) plus shopping for and bagging up care packages ready for the coronation – the look of surprise on the Heron staff when we cleaned the shelves of fruit scones…!! Brilliantly worthy cause and a hugely enjoyable afternoon.” Catherine Wilmott, Executive Director (Operations and Finance)

Donnison School and Heritage Centre is a thriving heritage, education and community centre based in the east end of Sunderland. It is a listed building dating from 1798. This restored Georgian school, provides opportunities for community engagement through an annual programme of activities, events and community outreach. The building was restored and re-opened as a new community facility in 2007 and has become an important heritage asset for the people of Sunderland and across the region.

“We dug out some very overgrown flower beds ready for plants to be added and trimmed back some trees and bushes around an old air raid shelter. We really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again. Had an afternoon of laughs too which was nice! Tummy muscles are also aching from laughing never mind the back and arms from digging.” Rachel Mersh, Procurement & Contracts Officer.

The Secret Garden in Ford Estate is a garden regeneration project in the heart of the local community. They convert neglected green spaces into community gardens, so far, they have completed five across the North East. Secret Garden is a Community Interest Organisation, founded in 2014.

“We had a great afternoon, some of us did weeding and planting, some of us did DIY helping building the polytunnel, and some of us did a general tidy up of the wood and reorganised behind the sheds.” Susanne Martin, Member Engagement Administration Officer.

Groundwork has been active for 40 years nationally and regionally working with communities to improve their environments and prospects, opportunities, skills and physical/mental health. The team came to Groundwork North East to do some litter picking.

“Spent the afternoon litter picking around the area off Railway Row in Sunderland, we were delighted to support the great work Groundworks North East do in improving the local environment, a great cause!.” Satty Rai, Member Engagement Manager.