Volunteer Story of the Month - November 2023

This month we are celebrating Befriending Week from 1-7th November. Fresh from her Serpentine Swim fundraising for us, Jo Bolton shares her story of being a befriender as part of Sutton Befrienders, along with her other volunteering and fundraising support.

Jo kindly agreed to record a video chatting with Jane, our Fundraising and Bid Writing Officer, about her fundraising and volunteering in the borough.

She has even written a lovely text response (below) too for those of you who are not able to watch the video.

Jo Bolton Volunteering Week

Jo mentions:

If you are inspired and interested in volunteering in the borough check out our website.

Here’s Jo’s written reply and scroll to the bottom for the video.

What’s your name
Hi, my name is Jo and I’m a volunteer at Sutton Volunteer Centre.

What got you interested in volunteering?
It was January 2021 - the world was closed, I was furloughed, I had a child and husband cramping my style at home and I needed to get out. A friend suggested I contacted the Volunteer Centre as they were opening a Covid Vaccination Centre at Nonsuch. I applied, got the job as a Marshall, guiding people, and car park attendant. It was cold, dark, and wet most days, but we laughed, and I met some amazing people.

After that closed in May I happened to be at the Volunteer Centre on the High Street and found myself chatting to the Befriending department!

I agreed to join and was matched with a lovely lady, 90 years old - she is Northern and adopted children 50 years ago. Like myself. I started visiting every Thursday in September 2021. Unfortunately, her health has taken a turn for the worse and she has now been moved to a care home, I plan to visit her when she is settled in.

What made you start volunteering and where
When my son was 8, his school put him forward for a MAPS mentor, for a year they went out once a week, I am very grateful and wanted to give back.

You’ve also raised money for the Volunteer Centre - how?
Last year me and 2 friends organised a charity quiz at a local pub, over 100 quizzes and over £1000 raised. It was a great night.

Then in September - 4 of us entered a charity swim - we swam a mile in Hyde Park Serpentine - I was so nervous - the unknown, the temperature of the water and the volume of people. I completed it - slow and steady - but what an achievement and release of feelings when I got out of the water - Over £1200 raised.

Do you do any other volunteering?
When Nonsuch closed, the vaccination programme moved to local pharmacies. A bunch of us went along to SB Barai Pharmacy in Sutton to help co-ordinate people coming in for their jabs. This has been ongoing - and started again in September this year.

I also volunteer for A Stitch to Wear Clothes Swap, held about 6 times a year, you bring items of unwanted clothes, and swap them for someone else’s unwanted clothes.

Plus - for over 6 years I have been involved in Sutton Soup. It’s the sociable way of raising money for local good causes. You come along and pay £5 for a meal of homemade soup and bread. You listen to four pitches from local people who need funding for a project that benefits the Sutton community. You then vote for the one you like best. The winner of the vote gets to keep ALL the money we take on the door on the night. By coming together that £5 turns into hundreds of pounds for the winner.

What’s next?
A night out....as the Volunteer Centre is a chosen charity of the Mayor of Sutton, a group of friends have booked a table at the Mayors Gala Dinner at the Grove on the 9th of November. Really looking forward to dressing up and having fun.

Anything you’d say to anyone interested in volunteering?
You don’t have to give hours of your time, the choice is yours.

Also remember to sign up to www.easyfundraising.org.uk and you can raise money every time you shop online - I’ve raised over £40 just by sitting at my desk, Amazon, John Lewis, The Train Line, - over 7000 brands and shops have joined.