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The Volunteer Project at BIAS

In August 2023, BIAS decided to start the Volunteer Project, inspired by a desire to create opportunities for people to form connections, meet new friends and gain valuable skills while supporting the Irish community in Brent. BIAS aims to build a more inclusive community where no one is left behind. Since its launch, the project has focused on creating a connected community and providing opportunities for engagement and skill development.

Activities and Services

BIAS offers a variety of activities and services through the Volunteer Project, catering to both volunteers and service users:

  • Be-a-Friend Service: Volunteers become befrienders, forming meaningful relationships with people experiencing loneliness, combating social isolation and fostering community.
  • Active Ageing Club: Volunteers assist with entertainment and food preparation, creating a vibrant environment for older adults to enjoy their afternoons.
  • Welfare and Advocacy Service: Volunteers support the advice team by undertaking administrative tasks, enhancing the efficiency and reach of BIAS’s services.

Impact and Community Response

The community has responded enthusiastically to the Volunteer Project. Over 20 volunteers, many of whom are former beneficiaries of the charity’s services, now play an integral role in the organisation. Thanks to these dedicated individuals, BIAS is able to run two clubs every week, providing a safe and lively environment for over 80 service users to engage in social activities and form meaningful connections.

One particularly impactful initiative is the Be-a-Friend service. Volunteers involved in this program have significantly reduced social isolation for more than a dozen individuals living alone, offering companionship and support.

Celebrating Volunteer Week

In June 2024, BIAS celebrated Volunteer Week for the first time, expressing gratitude to all volunteers with a special lunch at Sanzio restaurant. This event provided an opportunity for volunteers to relax, chat and bond, reflecting on their experiences and contributions.

Ersilia, Volunteer Manager, and Ellen, Community Engagement Manager, shared their thoughts:

“When we started this project, our goal was to combat social isolation, foster belonging, and create a vibrant, connected community in Brent. Today, we’ve made significant strides toward that vision.” “Volunteer Week 2024 was our inaugural celebration, a time to reflect on the invaluable contributions of our volunteers. We’re planning more events to thank our volunteers and provide opportunities for bonding. When we planned the Volunteer Week Lunch, our goal was for every volunteer to understand just how much they are appreciated. Their dedication, compassion, and hard work do not go unnoticed. Volunteers are the heart and soul of BIAS, and we are immensely grateful for everything they contribute.”