It’s Volunteers’ Week when we highlight the amazing impact of the people who are the lifeblood of our charity – those who give up their time so generously to help our clients.

Last year around 100 people volunteered with Action Foundation – the vast majority, 73 in total, with our Action Language (now renamed Language & Learning) service.

Mark Hall, Action Foundation’s Head of Client Services said the contribution of our volunteers reflected ‘the best of the human spirit’.

“Every volunteer at Action Foundation brings us closer to a world where our collective humanity shines brighter than any difference,” he said.

“In the words of Nelson Mandela ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’

“A huge thank you to our volunteers. Your selfless contribution reflects the best of the human spirit.  You embody the unity and compassion that transcends all boundaries.”

The dedication of our Language & Learning volunteer teacher and teaching assistants was recognised in the most recent North East Charity Awards when long-standing volunteer, Libby Selman, was honoured with the title of Charity Champion.

Asked what motivated her to volunteer with us, she told the audience:

“Fantastic students and a very, very good charity to work with.”

Many of Libby’s colleagues agree that first and foremost it’s the students who make volunteering with Action Foundation such a joy.

Genny Ryan, a committed Language & Learning volunteer, said: “The holistic approach of Action Foundation helps people as people, not just as ‘students’ or ‘service users'”.

Our charity offers dovetailed support so that someone coming to an English class can also access support from our caseworkers within InterAction for example and vice versa.

We also have a strong team of volunteers – many with lived experience of migration – within our InterAction service.

They receive valuable training so they can deliver casework to clients at our weekly Newcastle Drop-in and at a fellow charity’s Drop-in in South Shields.

We have volunteer barbers at the Drop-in too, who are unpaid but ensure the people who visit can get a free haircut. Other InterAction volunteers staff our food and drink and free clothing stations.

Mohamed Saleh from Sudan volunteers with InterAction. He says:

“I like the friendly atmosphere and that I get training to help me with my life and with work.”

Young Lives is a relatively new service for children and teens from migrant families and it is also supported by a growing number of volunteers.

Last but not least we run a volunteering service in South Shields which links asylum seekers and refugees with enjoyable volunteering opportunities outside Action Foundation.

Amelia Noake, Social Inclusion Officer with the InterAction South Tyneside project, has so far successfully linked 35 clients with a variety of placements, including cookery with Food Cycle; gardening with NECA’s Community Garden and music making with Citizen Songwriters.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Action Foundation, please visit the volunteers page on our website for more information.