Alison's story

“The Centre is my community – here you feel like you matter”

Themes: Volunteering; connection; community participation

Alison has lived in Tower Hamlets most of her life and moved to Bow 20 years ago. She raised and cared for a son with disabilities and has her own health challenges which made a working life impossible. This didn’t hold Alison back from contributing to her community and becoming a lifelong volunteer.

As patient of the GP practice, Alison soon found herself engaging with the Centre services. It took a while for her to build confidence but she now contributes a lot of time and energy “what haven’t I done?” laughs Alison “The Centre means the world to me and I want to help it as much as I can”

Alison’s involvement is impressive. She got involved with the Centre’s skills sharing programme donating craft materials and books.  She supported outreach for Communities Driving Change and played a role in our community research project. She participates in craft sessions and engages with the performing arts projects and regularly supports Centre events.

Books are important to Alison and she is passionate about making them available for children to develop a love of reading. She secured a small community funding pot and set up the children’s book swap shop. She also keeps the staff rest-space stocked up with books for reading and swapping.

Alison is currently a regular at Space to Connect coffee afternoons and even finds time to volunteer at Bow Food Bank which now operates at the Centre every week.

“The staff and other volunteers at the Centre are so friendly” continues Alison. “At some other places I’ve volunteered, you simply work and leave but the Centre isn’t like that, here you feel part of something important and one of the team – you feel like you matter”

Alison has won a volunteer of the year award at the Centre. Both for her contribution and for her ability to recruit others to become involved.  She shares her home with her beloved cat Poppy who Alison said “would volunteer too if she could”