Read the words from our very own Ruth Truelove about the importance of volunteering in your own community...
I can’t believe how many experiences I’ve had through my community involvement – sleeping with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, reading with local children, dancing in competitions, doing fun runs, organising balls, helping young people test their business ideas, watching a debate in the Houses of Parliament and more.
Sometimes people aren’t sure about getting involved in community projects because they think it adds to their workload. Yes, it takes a bit of time, but it doesn’t have to be a big commitment – and you get so much out of it! It feels wonderful to make a positive difference.
My own passion is for charities and schools that encourage children to believe in themselves. At Stepney Primary School, where I’m a Governor, their ethos is that their children enjoy learning and have smiles on their faces. Who wouldn’t want to help a school like that?
It’s incredible to think of how much we’ve done at St Stephen’s over the years.
Around 200 charities and community groups have raised funds and awareness through our charity zone since 2010. This gives the centre more of the community feel that visitors love, and it’s helped us form relationships with great local partners.
More than 1,300 local children have taken part in our Young Readers Programme with the National Literacy Trust since 2013, nurturing reading for enjoyment. And over 230 local young people have completed our retail training programmes since 2007, delivered in partnership with retailers.
I’m also looking out for my next personal challenge. Last year, I did my first ever individual fundraising event – Strictly Learn to Dance in aid of local Dove House Hospice. It was so much fun, and I raised more than £2,200.
I’d really encourage everyone to give volunteering a go. Start with something you’ve got a passion for and see what you get out of it. If I had more time, I’d do even more. I love it!
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