Volunteer-led initiatives based in the heart of communities have meant that some of the most isolated and those affected by crises can receive the support they need.

Projects such as Positive Steps in Thamesmead, aims to tackle poor health and inequality by resolving factors that may contribute to on-going ill health and stress. This might include impending eviction or court appearances, drug or alcohol dependency, domestic violence or similar.

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Based at Health Centres, trained volunteers offer advice and guidance to residents on issues such as employment and training, housing, immigration, health and wellbeing, debt and fuel poverty which has led to fewer people needing to see their GP because they are appropriately signposted to other support services.

The award-winning Now’s the Time project in Thamesmead, delivers affordable and accessible activity programmes, developed in consultation with residents, which encourages participation in sport and wellbeing activities, and improves health. Over the last year, our volunteers have given 900 hours towards delivering sports programmes in the area.

Positive Steps Volunteer, Claudette Lawrence said: “I started volunteering after giving up work because of several chronic health conditions. I enjoy volunteering; I like helping people and if I can help someone, that gives me a sense of fulfilment. At the moment, I am volunteering on the Positive Steps Thamesmead project with Peabody, assisting local residents to address and find solutions to issues that may be preventing them from leading a healthy and happy lifestyle.

The barrier for me has been my health, and at times it’s been extremely difficult if I’m having a bad day. Everybody has been great and they’ve made reasonable adjustments so that I can take part. I’m also doing an NVQ alongside my volunteering role, so will also get another academic qualification.

Volunteering is very therapeutic as it gets me out of the house and gives me a sense of purpose; when you’re ill you can become very isolated. I think volunteering is brilliant! I would definitely recommend volunteering, as you get to meet new people and interact with others. At the same time, you’re helping others and often it can lead to paid work too.”