JoJo Volunteers: What We Achieved in 2019 | National Volunteers’ Week

Last year, we shared some amazing volunteering stories from our teams across JoJo; from teaching English to underprivileged children in Korea to building a nursery in Peru and, a little closer to home, teaching kids football and helping out at local food banks, our team members have some pretty impressive charity work up their sleeves! So, we thought we'd repeat the process this year in celebration of National Volunteers' Week and reach out to our stores, London office and warehouse in Newport to see who else has been lending their time to worthy causes.

Before we get started, we'd also like to remind you of our in-house charity, Nema Foundation. Many of us work really hard to spread the word about our communities in Northern Mozambique who have recently been devastated by Cyclone Kenneth. Our CEO & Founder, Laura Tenison recently shared an exclusive blog giving an insight into what she does as a Nema Trustee to help keep the organisation running and achieving the best results. Read more here.

- LAYLA (FINANCE)

NEWPORT WOMEN'S AID, THE OLIVE BRANCH HOMELESS SHELTER, CARDIFF HOME START

I have been doing a lot of volunteering lately! Last year, I spent a day in the Newport Women's Aid office which provides support to vulnerable women and children. I work in the Finance office at JoJo, and after my experience there we collected donations of toiletries and children's goods across the department to donate to the charity before Christmas. We decided to do this instead of our usual office secret Santa as some of the poor women arriving at the refuge literally came with just the close on their back after fleeing from domestic abuse. Just one day there really opened my eyes to their struggles, and it just seemed like the right thing to do over Christmas, as this can be the hardest time of year for vulnerable people.

This March I also spent a day at The Olive Branch Centre which is a drop-in for homeless people - they cook for them and provide clothing/ toiletries which have been donated. Again, it was another worthwhile charity to offer my time to and although it was sad, it was such a great experience.

In January, I started an 8 week course with Cardiff Home Start as a volunteer helping vulnerable families who are struggling with life skills and parenting. As a mum of 2 older children, I feel I can offer useful help and support to these families to see them through difficult times. I am just in the process of arranging my first visit to a family who I will hopefully be seeing on weekends for a 12 week period - during our sessions I will act as a friend; a friendly face to talk to without judgement and who can hopefully offer advice.

 

- LEE (GRAPHICS)

HOURS OF HUMAN HAPPINESS

I've been working for a charity called Hours of Human Happiness since last October. I've used 2 JoJo volunteer days to visit them, but I also do regular work for them in my spare time - a couple of hours every week. I first found out about the organisation last summer and thought they sounded really worthwhile to support, so I started giving a monthly donation which sends an orphaned child through primary school.

3H is like a very small version of Nema, and it works to help one village in Uganda. Like Nema, all the money raised goes directly to fund projects on the ground, like school meals/ fees, literacy projects, blankets and bunk beds for orphans and scholarships for the children of the village to one day help them go to University in Mbale.

I love the fact that when you set up a monthly donation you get a picture of your sponsored child, and you get sent their school reports (see below, click here for a better view!). You can also write to them and send them gifts via the village elders.

When I first started donating, the charity was very small and had only just achieved charity status. All fundraising was done through word of mouth by the trustees. I offered my help in design if it was ever needed and in October they asked me to design a logo, then set up a very basic website, which I now regularly update. I have recently also designed and printed flyers for them to use for fundraising too. Now they have a fundraising page which can be accessed through the website which helps them raise much more for new projects!

The website is https://www.3huganda.org/ and below you can see the logo I have designed for them.

- NATALIE (BUYING)

CAMINUL FELIX HOUSING PROJECT

I volunteered for a week building a house for foster parents in Romania who have adopted orphaned children. The charity had always been very close to my heart, my father-in-law, Crispin sponsored one of the orphans and went out every year to help with the building projects. In 2016, when Crispin passed away very suddenly, a group of family and friends decided to see for ourselves why it meant so much to him.

When we went out the foundations had been laid, and our task was to build something that resembled a house in the 7 days we were there. My DIY and building skills went as far as Ikea flat-pack furniture so it’s safe to say I had plenty to learn! The house was being constructed from timber so this is where I was hoping my flat-pack knowledge would come into its own. We worked long hours making sure we were on track to finish on time (a rare thing for a building project). Each evening we went to one of the already existing house parents for dinner with their families. It was so refreshing to see kids being kids, all they wanted was for us to play games with them; we played cards, they taught us new games and did our nails.

On our last day we went to the State Orphanage, this was heart-breaking and put the whole week into perspective. Seeing the alternative for orphans who aren’t lucky enough to be fostered was devastating. All they wanted was for us to watch Rapunzel with them and play games. The kids spent the entire time stroking my hair and calling me Rapunzel which brought a lump to my throat!

It was amazing to see the build though to the end. From the concrete foundations we arrived to, to the full house that was roofed and insulated when we left. It was amazing to be part of something so close to Crispin’s heart and to make a difference to others who despite being far less fortunate than us have such a positive outlook on life.

- WAYNE (RETAIL)

PARISH COUNCILLOR

I have been a member of my local council for 2 years now and as well as attending regular meetings, I am also an active volunteer around the village. I co-lead the village’s entry into Britain in Bloom which involves a year round contribution and at its peak involves around 15 hours per week of managing floral displays, parks and green-spaces.

I have also been involved in organising the remembrance service which in 2018 was attended by around 200 people - a fantastic turn out for such a small village! Prior to this service I sourced and helped to install a new village flagpole and memorial in recognition of the 100 year anniversary of the Great War.

My voluntary work in the village revolves around civic pride and putting back into the community in which I live. The more work that is put in, the more all residents can get back in terms of having a nice place to live and an active sense of community, as well as pleasant surroundings.

Here are a few photos of me in action!

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