Tag Archives: Arthur Hookway

Volunteering: good for your community, and good for you

Thinking about volunteering

The theme for the 2014/5 year in office of Sutton’s Mayor, Worcester Park ward’s Councillor Arthur Hookway, was “Volunteers and Volunteering in the Community”. This has prompted me to think again about the role of volunteering and consider the organisations in Worcester Park that depend on volunteers. The exercise has also made me stop and think why I chose to work on a voluntary basis and, a less obvious thought, what benefits I might have gained from doing it. I have also realised that at the time I was asked I just considered it as ‘helping out’ and hadn’t considered volunteering in general and its specific role in society.

An example of a volunteer

To try to work out what volunteers do, the skills involved and the potential benefits I decided to list some of my own pro bono activity. Thinking back over the years made me realise that I have been involved in quite a few organisations in a variety of roles, including:

  • Rugby club: coaching children’s rugby and bookkeeping
  • Scout group: fundraising
  • Libraries: teaching IT to over 50’s
  • Schools/National charity: facilitating the teaching of IT by children to the over 50’s
  • Community: running an historic annual street fair
  • International charity: the creation and facilitation of a children’s computer programming club

Skills

My list covers a variety of organisations and each role required a different mix of skills. Some of these skills I already had but there were many things that I needed to learn and many positions that didn’t come naturally to me and required a more fundamental change.

One of the important things I’ve learnt from this is that volunteering is not only a great way to share your professional and more general life skills with your community but also a way to gain new skills which can help with your personal development and, for some, can improve employment opportunities.

Friendship

Another unexpected benefit has been from a more social and personal point of view. Over the years I have met numerous people via volunteering activity and looking around my current close friends and contacts in the local community I can trace both direct and indirect connections that have resulted from past, and current, activities.

Knock-on effects

The benefits from volunteering do not usually end within the organisation where you help or even the physical boundaries of your own community. You will make contacts outside of the group which in turn will lead to new organisations, new opportunities and new friends. In fact, my last job and my current role as a councillor both came about as a direct result of my volunteering activity.

Volunteering in Worcester Park

I am sure of some key facts about Worcester Park:

  1. There are many volunteer led organisations in Worcester Park
  2. Some organisations in Worcester Park need additional help
  3. There are many people in Worcester Park who have some spare time, would like to make new friends or would benefit from learning new skills

So, I know we have the volunteering oppotunities, I know we have people willing to help, but how can they find out about each other?

Getting involved

As a start I suggest that those looking for volunteers or those wanting to take advantage of the many opportunities of volunteering visit Do-it to advertise volunteering opportunities or look for those that are available. If you need help to make people aware of your opportunity or availability please feel free to contact me.

 

Worcester Park at its best

A selection of events happened to come together this weekend to show how much goes on within the community and to make it a very special time in Worcester Park.

Worcester Park Christmas Night poster
Worcester Park Christmas Night poster

Friday night we had the annual Worcester Park Christmas Night organised by Worcester Park Traders Association. Having been the organiser of Cheam Charter Fair for the past few years I understand how much hard work is involved in an on-street event like this. This event was however much more complex so I was particularly impressed by what Worcester Park Traders Association achieved for our benefit. The kids seemed to be particularly impressed by the sight of Santa and a Gruffalo going up and down Central Road in an army jeep!

Saturday we had the Worcester Park Christmas Produce and Craft Market organised by EcoLocal on behalf of Sutton Council. It’s nice to see the stalls added to our usual array of shops at this regular event which should help to boost our shopping centre. As always with local shopping facilities – USE IT OR LOSE IT!

Mayflower Park, The Hamptons carol singing
Mayflower Park, The Hamptons carol singing
Mayor of Sutton, The Hamptons Christmas Tree
Mayor of Sutton, The Hamptons Christmas Tree

Saturday evening saw a new event in the Worcester Park calendar with the Hamptons Estate Company placing a Christmas tree on the hill in Mayflower Park and arranging a switching on ceremony for its lights.  When we arrived there were carols being sung around the still-dark tree at the top of the hill, providing a unique atmosphere in the cold, still, but very clear evening with the Shard and other London landmarks visible, glowing in the distance.  We then saw headlights coming up the hill towards us as the Mayor of Sutton, Worcester Park’s own Cllr Arthur Hookway, approached in the Mayoral car. He then spoke to the assembled crowd of adults and children before turning on the lights of the large Christmas tree, his red robes and tricorn hat adding to the theatre of the occasion. I wonder how far away our Christmas tree can be seen?

Green Lane Primary and Nursery School Choir
Green Lane Primary and Nursery School Choir

On Sunday the Worcester Park Royal British Legion provided a stage for children from Green Lane Primary and Nursery School to sing carols. A major change since I was a kid, and even when my sons were at school, is that the children were able to both sing AND sign the songs –  at the same time! I was also impressed that the money collected for the school after the performance was matched by Worcester Park Royal British Legion; real community spirit.

Later on Sunday I made my annual trip to the 4th Worcester Park Scout Group  for their Christmas ‘Scouts Own’. All my children went to the 4th (and one is still a helper) and I was Chair of their fund raising team for a while so I am no stranger to the Group and the excellent work it does for local youth. I estimate I have been going to the Christmas Scouts Own for about 25 years and it is now a part of our family’s Christmas ritual.

My thanks to the organisations that made all this possible, and particularly to those that give up their time to run things. If you have time to spare why not find a local organisation to join. You will not only help the community but are likely to make new, and possibly life long, friends.

A new name for arts in Sutton

Arts Network Sutton launch event
Arts Network Sutton launch event

Last night I was pleased to be able to go to the launch event for Arts Network Sutton at Sutton Life Centre where I attended primarily as Organiser of Cheam Charter Fair.
This new organisation was formed to replace the existing Sutton Arts Council (SAC) and  aims to promote, champion, nurture and act as an inclusive voice for the diverse range of arts in Sutton. A chair and committee will be elected at the first annual general meeting which is being held at Sutton Civic Centre at 20:00 on Mon 30 June 2014.
The event was attended by individual artists, representatives of arts organisations plus Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park MP Paul Burstow. The opening speech was made by the new Mayor of Sutton, Cllr Arthur Hookway, on the first engagement attended by both him and the new Mayoress.
It was good to see evidence of so much art-related activity in the Borough, especially those organisations encouraging children to learn and grow through their activity.
At the other end of the age spectrum more senior residents present confirmed my personal view that it is ‘never too late to learn’. In addition to making new friends I believe  people are generally happier and healthier while learning or being involved in activities that are different from the usual tasks of life.
Keep an eye on the progress of Arts Network Sutton and GET INVOLVED. There is a lot going on and with YOUR involvement even more could be happening!

Worcester Park councillor to become Mayor of Sutton

Recently elected Worcester Park ward councillor Arthur Hookway has been selected as the next Mayor of the London Borough of Sutton. He will take over the role from Councillor Sean Brennan OBE at the Council Meeting on Monday 9 June 2014. Arthur is known to many in Worcester Park as he was Chair of Worcester Park Residents Association until he stood down from this role to stand for election as a Liberal Democrat councillor.