In The Garden With Welcome To Volunteering

The Welcome to Volunteering team and clients have been keen to get back out in the community to increase their confidence and skills through helping organisations.

Since the easing of lockdown, the team were volunteering in the Yvonne Arnaud theatre’s garden, clearing the overgrown space that has not been touched since the enforced isolation and lockdown, as well as jet washing and painting the outdoor concrete stairs.

10 volunteers contributed towards this work over the course of the five weeks and during their time volunteering, they enjoyed a socially distanced picnic lunch. This has been a great opportunity for the volunteers to chat and socialise. Friendships have formed that did not exist before the project and pandemic and the volunteers have benefited from meeting each week with like-minded people, especially following the tough situation that has caused a lot of disruption and changed usual routines.

Thanks to their hard work, the theatre held an outdoor performance in the garden that would not have been possible without the help of the team.


Time To Say Thanks

This week is Volunteers’ Week, the week we had planned to hold a big celebratory party thanking all volunteers for their hard work, dedication and the time they give to supporting local organisations and communities.

Whilst we may not be able to physically come together and hold a summer celebration in person, we still want to make noise and say a massive THANK YOU to all volunteers; those who, before the pandemic, dedicated hours of their time to support local organisations and services and those who volunteer now, to help people get through the Covid-19 crisis.

Volunteering in the Covid-19 crisis

Since the start of the enforced lockdown and isolation, we at VASWS saw a huge surge in the volume of people registering to volunteer – it has been incredible.

We have been overwhelmed by the support people have shown in Guildford and Waverley and across the country and this support has meant those who are vulnerable have been able to access shopping, food and prescriptions.

Those who are isolated/experiencing loneliness have also been able to make new friends and have regular conversations by volunteers phoning for a chat, ensuring they are not alone.

According to a study cited in the Guardian, an outstanding ten million adults have been volunteering in their communities and most say they will carry on when lockdown ends.

This is fantastic, people across the country have been getting stuck into helping their local communities and neighbours through what has been an unsettling, scary and uncertain time.

It has been extremely positive to see people working together as a community, showing how volunteering helps to change the lives of many, including the volunteer who has been able to do something proactive and positive in a time where negativity is all around.

Positive stories

To learn more about the experiences of organisations, local support groups and volunteers  during the crisis, we sent a message to find out how it has been going. The organisations who have responded to us have all expressed their gratitude and thanks to the volunteers, as well as sharing some of their stories. Please see these below –  they will certainly put a smile on your face, like they did for us!

Could you volunteer?

When services are fully operational we have various volunteering roles to suit everybody. Some of the organisations are still closed for the time being, however, why not visit our volunteer opportunities page, scroll through and make a list of things you might like to apply for when the restrictions are lifted. Think outside the box and imagine coming out of your comfort zone, doing something new and exciting.

Happy Volunteers’ Week from us all at VASWS and a huge THANK YOU to all volunteers, for all the work you do for the sector. We could not do it without you!

If you have any questions, please give us a ring on 01483 565459 or email

Thankyous from local organisations and volunteer stories

Busbridge and Hambledon Churches: “We could not do this without you and you have been amazing.  Enormous thanks.”

Alastair Shanks, Right at Home: “I am hugely grateful to the 170 or so people who have signed up to become Friends of Right at Home. They have been absolutely amazing, supporting those isolating with shopping trips and friendship. We have had incredible feedback from those we are supporting about how caring and compassionate the volunteers have been and new friendships made. I am immensely proud of the difference we have been able to make across South West Surrey and none of that would have been possible without these fantastic volunteers.”  

Shamley Green Village Care: “A big thank you to all our new volunteers in Shamley Green for their time and friendship to our older residents.”

Farnham &Villages Coronavirus Helpline: “A huge thank you all of you who have given up your time to help others in the community. We have been so impressed by how positive everyone is and how keen to help you are – whenever  we ‘phone a volunteer with a request for help, the answer is always yes! It is a pleasure working with you all.” 

Cranleigh Food Bank: “We as a steering committee would like to thank all our volunteers for their enthusiasm, commitment, flexibility  and positive spirit that makes up our team serving in this local community  We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.”

Woncare: “A HUGE thank you to all our volunteers who have willingly queued at shops and the post office, negotiated the frustrations of online shopping, queued at the pharmacy and delivered with a smile and a wave to all those who are not able to get out and about at this time. And to all those that have made contact with and are looking out for neighbours. Never forget that everyone who is elderly or self-isolating is so pleased to hear from a neighbour and get a wave through the window from a friendly face and Woncare is getting messages that ALL your efforts are being so much appreciated.”

A volunteer who has helped Blind Veterans: “I’ve signed up with The Blind Veterans as a phone befriender and now enjoy a weekly call to two different veterans. They are both very thankful for the conversation as lockdown has completely stopped all of their usual social activities. It’s lovely to chat with them and it feels like something that is helping them get through this time. Really glad I signed up!”

James Croft: “My project Front Door Photos – family portraits on the doorstep – is raising money for Your Sanctuary. I’ve been bringing some cheer and creating positive memories for Surrey families.”

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020


Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday 18th May to Sunday 24th May. The focus of the campaign this year is Kindess Matters, tying in with the global pandemic and highlighting the need to be kind to one another during this difficult time, as well as being kind to ourselves in-order to protect our mental health.

How can you get involved?

Time to Change has published resources on its website for people to engage with and download nationwide. You can also share some of the online publicity materials that are on the website.

If you would specifically like to raise awareness about this campaign within your workplace teams, there is a section of downloadable activities, training and resources to share with your colleagues to encourage them to reflect more deeply about their own mental wellbeing and specifically sleeping habits, to explore how this could impact mental health.

You can also personally get involved more locally, raising awareness about the week through simply checking in on your friends, families and neighbours, ensuring that everyone is staying safe and well.

For more information, tips and guidance about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, please visit the website.

How can we help you in Guildford and Waverley?

If you would like help and guidance with your mental health, please contact us and we can connect you to various organisations in Guildford and Waverley that are supporting people with their mental wellbeing.

Email us on:

Telephone: 01483 565456

Please don’t suffer in silence. We are here to help.

Volunteer To Help in the Covid-19 Crisis

If you would like to volunteer to assist the community in the existing Coronavirus Crisis please contact 01483 565456, or email

We are working with organisations in Guildford and Waverley to identify where help is needed in the area. Volunteers are needed to collect/deliver shopping, prescriptions, food parcels and also do some telephone befriending ringing people in the community who may be experiencing isolation or loneliness.

The usual volunteering roles on our website are mostly emorarily on hold due to the current situation.

Please contact us if you would like to volunteer to help those who are vulnerable in the crisis and we will put you in touch with organisations. We hope you can help and we look forward to hearing from you.

International Day of Happiness 2020

In 2019 there was a small improvement in average happiness ratings increasing from 7.52 to 7.56. This shows people are becoming increasingly aware about the importance of putting their happiness first and living a happy life, however, the very slight increase highlights there are still many people who may need support.

Happiness is defined differently for everyone and to further highlight the importance of happiness, the United Nations developed International Day of Happiness taking place on 20th March, ensuring as many people as possible  are aware about the importance of looking after their physical and mental wellbeing.

Feeling Happy

International Day of Happiness is a national initiative coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries and supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations, turning happiness into a global celebration.

It was developed because it was recognised by the UN General Assembly that happiness is fundamental to our lives and they wanted to promote the happiness and wellbeing of all.

Ensuring the message is as diverse as possible the campaign has a different theme each year. For 2020 the theme is Happiness Together focusing on what we all have in common, rather than what divides us.

How can we help boost your happiness?

Perhaps happiness for you is achieved through connecting to the local community, joining a social group or activity or maybe it’s helping others through volunteering. Whatever it is, we can help you by joining you up with various local organisations, groups and services that could support your wellbeing.

If you know that integrating with the community is the way to improve your happiness, yet you require support to increase your confidence to do this, we have a selection of projects that can help. These projects are:

  1. Welcome to Volunteering – this helps anyone who feels they need extra support to take up and sustain volunteering roles
  2. Welcome Buddies – this pairs individuals overcoming mental ill-health with volunteer buddies from the community who help those gain confidence to get involved with activities
  3. Social Prescribing – at VASWS we host social prescribing link workers who work with individuals that may be lonely, isolated, anxious, or lacking in confidence to identify what makes them happy, then connecting them to support and activities that could help improve their lifestyle and situation.

Here at VASWS there is an abundance of help available and we also have a database with an extensive list of other local services and organisations that we could signpost you to, who may be able to help.

Call us on 01483 565456 to find out how we can help, or email

Let’s help each other to feel happy, not just on International Happiness Day – everyday!


2020 Annual Conference – TOGETHER

Our Annual Conference is back and this year it is centered around the theme Together. Exploring how we work together; within our own organisations, across sectors and within communities; communicating effectively, building connections and forming partnerships essential to successful service delivery.

We will be looking at some of the ways we can get the most out of how we work together with staff, volunteers, trustees, clients, funders, communities and across sectors.

Speakers include:  Joanna Killian, Surrey County Council; Karl Wilding, NCVO; Maria Zealey, Surrey Welfare Rights Unit; Tara Rowe, Reconnections; Debbie Boulter, Cherry Trees; Corin Harrison, Space to Grow.

Tickets cost £25 and this includes inspiring talks, engaging workshops and a sandwich lunch. For more information, to book your space and choose which workshops you would like to attend, please follow this link to Eventbrite –


Voluntary Action South West Surrey is Registered Charity Number: 1116293 | Registered Company Number: 05841344 | Registered Office: 39 Castle Street | Guildford | GU1 3UQ

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