Volunteer Stories of the Month - February 2024

Three amazing volunteers from the Hong Kong Community in Sutton have kindly shared their stories in the run up to Lunar New Year celebrations this month.

Our Integrating Sutton project matches local residents with Hong Kongers to help them settle into our community. The project also had a 12 week ‘Welcome to the UK’ course which many find helpful to ease them into a new country.

Three Hong Kong volunteers who have gone onto enjoying volunteering themselves in Sutton, and even gaining paid employment are married couple: Patrick and Pinky, and Cynthia.

February 2024 Volunteer Story of the Month triple

Patrick and Pinky’s story

For January, we had Joyful January, for February we’ve been focusing on what volunteers love about what they do and what a better story than of a couple volunteering together?


2024 February volunteer story of the month we love volunteering because


Do you want to volunteer but don’t want to take time away from the family? Take inspiration from married couple Patrick and Pinky who volunteer together, a win-win situation of both quality time together and giving back to the community!

Patrick says "I Joined two volunteering roles with my wife Pinky – Barista at the Tower Café [at St Mary’s Church, Beddington] and Sutton Community Farm. We love doing volunteering as it’s definitely meaningful and we can contribute a lot in the community. By doing volunteering, we meet many local residents and learn more about British culture that made us easier to integrate in the community. Hope more Hong Kongers join volunteering!"


Even better news it that we heard that both of them and one more Hong Konger have been hired by the café as part-time staff!

The church is delighted as they currently have seven Hong Kongers volunteering with them!

Judy Page, from Tower Cafe of St Mary’s Church, Beddington says: "St Mary's Church, Beddington has a coffee shop which is situated inside the church and we have had the pleasure of volunteers from the Volunteer Centre Sutton’s project integrating the members of the Hong Kong community into Sutton life working with us for over two years now.  Our volunteers have been wonderful and met with people who come into the church for a coffee, cake, sandwiches and chat. In December we had a party for all volunteers - Joe, our manager at the time cooked a Christmas Dinner and we had a big meal together. Thank you so much to everyone.”

Here are some photos of the fun had together!

2024 February volunteer story of the month church party

2024 February volunteer story of the month party

Here are the links to learn more about the roles mentioned:

Sutton Community Farm Simply Connect links:

Cynthia’s story

2024 February volunteer story of the month Cynthia

From Hong Kong to the working in the NHS via Volunteering with Volunteer Centre Sutton

“Thank you to Volunteer Centre Sutton! Volunteering was the key for me to start my career in a new industry and a new country! From the warm welcome at the Welcome Course to the support I received training as a Health Navigator to being able to give back to the local community whilst volunteering – thank you!”

Cynthia moved with her family to the UK from Hong Kong in 2021. Her immediate priority was to settle her daughter into the local primary school. In Hong Kong, Cynthia had worked full time in IT industry but with emigrating to the UK – she took a career break to support her family transitioning to living in the UK. She first came across Volunteer Centre Sutton when she heard about their Welcome to the UK course. It was a 6 week course covering topics such as Understanding British Culture, Wellbeing and Volunteering with guest speakers from other local community organisations and projects e.g. the NHS, Citizens Advice Bureau, Sutton Council, etc. An added bonus was that the course was run bilingually in Cantonese and English. She thoroughly enjoyed it – she met new friends, learned more about British customs and how important small talk is in the UK! It was also a chance to improve her confidence in her English language skills.

Following the Welcome Course – Cynthia heard about another of Volunteer Centre Sutton’s projects focusing on Improving Community Health in Sutton. And that they were recruiting for volunteers to be Health Navigators! The role would involve conducting health checks (e.g. blood pressure) for residents and providing support and guidance to residents. Cynthia booked a session with one of Volunteer Centre Sutton’s volunteer advisors who encouraged and supported to apply for the volunteer Health Navigator role. Cynthia soon completed the required training and then started volunteering. As for Cynthia’s confidence in English, this was a great role to build her confidence and within weeks of volunteering in her second language, her confidence was so much higher.

Having emigrated 2 years ago, Cynthia has recently been successful in securing a paid role within the NHS. She credits Volunteer Centre Sutton and our support through her journey from arriving and feeling welcome to the UK to volunteering which has enabled her to move into working in another industry and another language!

Click here to find out more about the Community Health project and Health Navigator role. 

If you are interested in any of these volunteering opportunities, get in touch hello@vcsutton.org.uk

Here’s a video about what it’s like to be a Hong Kong Buddy.