10 things you can do to volunteer with your kids
There’s no better way to raise a KidCitizen than to lead by example. By volunteering together as a family, giving becomes an every day part of your kids’ lives and it’s fun! A recent report from Child Trends showed that kids who volunteer are more likely to have greater respect for others, leadership skills, and an understanding of citizenship that can carry over into adulthood.
Lots of charities require volunteers to be an adult or to be 16 and accompanied by an adult, but there are loads of things you can do with kids as young as three, all the way up to teenagehood.
- End food poverty
Download a list of needed items from the Foodbank’s website. Give it to your child and task them with finding the items in the supermarket. Kids love the responsibility. Talk to them about why you give food, who it goes to and have wider discussions about poverty. Take the food to a donation point or the Foodbank itself and ask your kid to hand in the items. When you’ve finished, ask them how the whole exercise made them feel. Visit the Foodbank website for donation points close to you. For Wandsworth Foodbank, visit https://wandsworth.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/. Or if your child is 16 you could volunteer together at the Be Enriched community canteens in Battersea, Brixton, Elephant & Castle or Tooting by signing up here https://signup.com/group/356785070051.
2. Donate clothes and toys
Talk to your kids about giving away clothes or toys they’ve grown out of and whizz around the house together collecting items they no longer need. Let them take the lead and explain to them who the donations are going to. You may need to instigate bribery, there’s no harm in celebrating the clean out with an ice cream or a trip to the playground.
You could donate the items to your local charity shop. Or you can donate it to a women’s shelter such as Solace Women’s Aid, but email them beforehand to check if they need what you actually have to donate. Or donate to Little Village who collect items and clothes for 0–5 year olds at their Wandsworth and Camden locations, and give them to families in need. Make sure to check their website first for what they need or join their Facebook group for up-to-date news and items needed.
3. Volunteer to sort through donations
Little Village receive so many items, they rely on volunteers to help sort through and quality check them. The best thing about this is you don’t need to book in a babysitter. You can take your kids in with you. They have toys so your kids can play whilst you sort through items or they can help you. Visit the Little Village volunteer page and let them know you’re coming by using their booking system. Alternatively, if you don’t have a morning to spare, you can go in on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday from 9:45am to 11:30am to collect a bag of toys, games and puzzles that you can sort and check at home with your kids. The team will give you clear instructions on how to quality check but the basic rule of thumb is that if the games are broken or pieces are missing that can’t be replaced, then they don’t pass the quality check. Your kids get to play with new toys and you can discuss who the toys might be going to. They also love the responsibility and the authority that comes with slapping on the quality approved sticker.
4. Help refugees
The media might have fallen silent on refugees, but the refugee crisis has far from subsided. The children’s section of the Refugee Council need your help to buy seven computers for coding lessons. Unaccompanied teens take English lessons at the Refugee Council whilst they wait for a placement in formal education. They are not forced to go, but most show up for their classes because they want to learn. Why not encourage your kids to do a sponsored device free weekend and raise money for the Refugee Council teens. Please donate to their JustGiving page . Or if you want to help Syrian refugee kids in camps abroad check out Project Amal Ou Salam or Help Refugees both grassroots organisations providing much needed support to displaced children and their families.
5. Host a bake off
Kids love baking and people love eating! Host a coffee morning or afternoon tea and sell your home baked goods to raise money for charity. You can do this for any charity near you or you can join an existing bake off. The Royal Trinity Hospice in Clapham Common is hosting a bake off on the 26th October, why not join in? Most charities host a bake off or something similar with Macmillan Coffee Morning probably being the most well known. Pick a cause you feel passionate about and find out when they are running theirs.
6. Host a fancy dress party
Halloween is round the corner. Why not combine a Halloween party with a fancy dress fundraiser for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s charity for sick kids? Host a Dahlicious dress up party at home and ask everyone to make a donation. It’s fun and for a good cause!
7. Host a tree party
Choose a tree in your local park, common or garden and host a picnic next to it, asking your guests to donate in support of trees in the UK. You could sponsor a tree with the Woodland Trust. Organise fun outdoor games and make home baked goods. Apart from the fact that picnics are fun, you can use the opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of protecting the environment. And if it rains, just take the party indoors!
8. Give a life changing gift at Christmas
How about buying life changing gifts for people who really need them? Have a look at Oxfam Unwrapped. It’s fun trawling the Oxfam unwrapped online catalogue with your kids and letting them choose a gift. Will they give pigs to a farmer or mosquito nets to families in developing countries. Oxfam helpfully provide options for every budget ranging from £5–25 to £50+. Or have a look at Good Gifts. Endorsed by a range of worthwhile charities, you can buy a goat for Rwanda or a bicycle for a midwife in Cambodia, or help turn weapons of war into farm implements.
9. Adopt an animal
Your kids could set up a stall and sell their old toys or they could save a portion of their weekly pocket money to adopt an animal and save an endangered species. You can adopt an animal for as little as £3 a month from WWF, or a whale or dolphin for £4 a month from WDC.
10. Clean up a beach
Put your wellies on and roll up your sleeves. Beachwatch is the Marine Conservation Society’s national beach cleaning and litter surveying programme — helping people all around the UK to care for their coastline. Our marine wildlife is under threat from the waste and litter in our seas, with hundreds of species accidentally eating or becoming entangled in litter. We all have a part to play in turning the tide on litter. Join a clean up near you and be part of the most influential fight against marine litter in the UK! Visit https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events to find a clean up operation near you and register your family to help with the clean up.
I know we’ve reached ten but I’m going to sneak in an 11th. Children in Need is on 17 November 2017. Order your fundraising pack to get involved or reach down the back of your sofa, find some old £1 coins and pop them into Children in Need donation boxes in all major banks, building societies and post offices, they will be accepted!
There are hundreds of amazing charities you can support with your family and a limitless amount of fundraising ideas you could do. The most important thing is to choose a cause you and your kids feel passionate about. Once you have decided that, then find a charity that supports your cause. If you are still at a loss as to what to do, then call them up and ask how you can volunteer with your family. I guarantee they will be happy to hear from you! And don’t forget to talk to your kids about what you are doing and why.