As part of the ‘Rise and Reach’ summer programme, on three days in 2020 (15 August, 3 September and 24 October) a group of youth, young adults and missionaries of the Church in Walworth, London, undertook service projects for Thames Reach, at three of its sites. Thames Reach is a charitable organisation that supports homeless and vulnerable individuals, some with mental-health concerns, to access housing, training, and employment opportunities.
For various reasons, including the national lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, no gardening had taken place for a long time at the sites, and the gardens were much in need of attention. Thus, when the offer of help was made, Amy Dawe of Thames Reach readily accepted.
The tasks for the volunteers involved cutting back overgrown foliage, tree branches, weeding and litter-picking around the properties. On each occasion, the volunteers laboured diligently, the results being a very noticeable difference in the appearance of the gardens.
Amy was delighted with the results. She said the residents were very pleased with the transformation. Once again, they would be able to use and enjoy their outdoor spaces, thanks to the tremendous hard work of the group of Church volunteers.
Following the completion of the second project, Bishop Abdul Rollings-Kamara of Peckham Ward, received an email from the volunteers programmes manager of Thames Reach. She informed him that the volunteers had won a Volunteer Hero Award, in recognition for the work they had undertaken. This came as a surprise to everyone. A certificate of achievement was subsequently awarded, as well as a gift voucher. These were presented by Bill Tidnam, chief executive of Thames Reach, on 24 October.
Through their service, the volunteers have exemplified the Rise and Reach motto to ‘Go and Do’, by going out and doing good for their community. Although their service was unconditional, they received a wonderful and unexpected award. The bishop will put the gift voucher towards food for a foodbank.