Volunteer Story of the Month - July 2024

Marking one year of our Volunteer Story of the Month feature, we talk to Peter Struik “serial volunteer” extraordinaire, Chair of Sutton Soup, and active volunteer with EcoLocal, amongst many others!

We created the Volunteer Story of the Month as a way to share the stories of our fantastic volunteers across the borough in their own words. What a way to celebrate 12 months of it than with Peter, local volunteering legend. If you’ve attended a Volunteer Centre Sutton event you may well have seen Peter behind a camera taking our official photos, he is a regular face at our Volunteer Coordinators’ Forums and is seen at many other events across the borough including, amongst others, Sutton Soup and digging paths at EcoLocal.

Here’s Peter to introduce himself…

Peter Struik Volunteer Story of the Month July 2024 square“Hi, I’m Peter Struik and I’m a serial volunteer.

I worked in the NHS and lived in Sutton for 40 years, happily helping at a couple of Nature Conservation sites (Spencer Road and Wilderness Island) and sitting on Education Appeal panels for Sutton and then Merton. Then I retired and discovered how much community spirit there was around.

Volunteering at the Secombe and Cryer Theatres (Front of House and helping the Tech ‘boys’) developed my ticket-ripping skills and led to my chatting to a lovely lady, Lucy, through whom I became involved with Sutton Soup which led to being involved with renovating the Memorial Halls at St Barnabas, the Sutton New Town group and helping organise and run many community events.

As a local resident I was asked to join the Friends of Sutton Green committee which led to my helping out the Friends of Rosehill Parks and being involved in the Sutton Friends’ Group, and via Hannah of the Sound Lounge (met via Sutton Soup) now helping Carshalton based EcoLocal in some of their many ventures (although I have recently scaled back on some of the groups I help - my daughter told me off as ‘at least when you were working I could see you at the weekends’)

None of this was in any way linked to my professional skills so why do I do it all? Apart from meeting and spending time with such a wide variety of so many wonderful people and gaining a constant sense of fulfilment it does save me from ever having to watch daytime TV. 

Peter Struik Volunteer Story of the Month July 2024

My greatest realisation, as a keen amateur photographer, was that people organising events are far too busy to take pictures and so I have developed the role of Community Photographer covering many fairs, festivals and fun, events arranged by Sutton Cultural Services and even the Volunteer Centre over the last few years. Again this has meant meeting and chatting (ticket-ripping experience proved useful here) to so many interesting people of all ages, developed my photographic skills and got me invited to a host of marvellous events.

So apart from social interactions, physical and mental exercise and a sense of wellbeing what has volunteering ever done for me? What could it do for you?

If you have some spare time and aren’t sure how to fill it I would recommend you look around and find a local group doing something in a field you are interested in and talk to them. You will be surprised at how valuable whatever you have to offer will be to them.

They are very unlikely to want more from you than you are willing to offer and rather than joining a gym or doing sudoku it will be a much more sociable and enjoyable way of exercising your mind and body. If one activity doesn’t suit you, you will have lost nothing by trying and there are always others.

Without hesitation I would say give it a go.

My CV has become far more interesting since I have retired - being with people who are amazingly generous with their time and knowledge means I have gained so much and learnt so many new skills - which even includes mixing concrete!

Volunteer Story of the Month July 2024 6x4

Thank you to Peter for sharing his story.

Here are some of the organisations mentioned:

Park friends: https://www.vcconnectsystem.org.uk/SuttonVMS2/VolunteerOpportunities/DetailsForSearch/2991

Ecolocal: https://www.ecolocal.org.uk/volunteering/

On Simply Connect they have roles such as:

  • Stewarding / event volunteering at Carshalton Environmental Fair
  • Local publicity volunteer
  • Learning Disabilities support volunteer
  • Admin Assistant for Disability Activities
  • Befriender/Peer supporter at Community Allotment
  • Befriender/Peer Supporter at Inclusive Cycling Sessions
  • Bicycle Maintenance Supporter

July 2024 Volunteer Coordinators Forum Social advertIf you are interested in Sutton Soup, our Volunteer Coordinators' Forum aim to go there everytime. We meet beforehand and go onto the church together. It is on this month Thursday 11th July. Anyone is welcome, we're a friendly bunch!

To learn more, here’s a Sutton Storyteller article Peter features in too talking about Sutton Soup (you can read it clearer here, pages 10-11)…

Volunteer Story of the Month July 2024 Storyteller article