Spots of Time

Spots of Time is a Hackney based social enterprise with a different take on volunteering, its all about giving small amounts of time to make a difference to others. yeah! Hackney caught up with Anna Pearson to find out more…

What is the idea behind Spots of Time?

The idea behind Spots of Time is to make it easy and fun for people to give small moments of their time and make a difference in their local communities. Our focus is on fun, creative activities that people can do very simply, and which lift people’s days in the organisations we work with even if they only happen once.

I felt that volunteering shouldn’t only be for those who could commit to once a week for a year. But at the same time coming from the charity sector I know how overstretched charities and community groups are, so a big focus was designing Spots of Time to take the all the admin and hassle out of them receiving volunteers.

I guess also personally I felt that whilst there are a lot of problems out there in the world that need tackling actually just sharing a simple moments of happiness with others is really important, when we do this we’re recognising each other as human beings not thinking of helping someone who is deprived or in difficulty and that matters.

How did it start?

I went freelance around a year ago to give me the extra time and flexibility to set up Spots of Time but the idea had been brewing in me for a good while before that. It’s been a huge learning journey for me personally and getting the concept right has taken us on some twists and turns but it feels fantastic to be in a place now where we’re starting to grow.

Who is involved?

We currently work with a range of community organisations: Sundial Day Centre, Headway East, Hackney Pirates and are just in the process of expanding to more. We’d love to hear from groups who are interested in receiving one-off volunteers to provide fun activities from music to film-making or just sharing cups of tea and chat.

So far we’ve placed around 50 volunteers during our pilot who’ve provided many hours of fun and enjoyment to the people we work with. We’ve also worked with Hackney City Farm (one of my favourite places) to organise a wish tree there in early Spring, we got nearly 1000 wishes and created something really beautiful for people to enjoy.

What’s your favourite Spots of Time story?

Its funny, I think all the stories are probably quite personal to those who volunteer and but one that has stayed with me is Spots of Time friend Odette Toilette who runs scent nights. Odette went into the care home we worked with in our early days to enable people with dementia to have a ‘scent experience.’ Some of those she worked with became quite emotional and confused so it was a challenging experience, but I found out later that it had led to a lady buying perfume for the first time in years. I think that’s sometimes just it, you don’t know what might come of giving people that moment…its like planting a seed.

Last week a new volunteer who was trying out all sorts of placements with other organisations told me that if it hadn’t been for her Spots of Time one she wouldn’t have volunteered again. That definitely made me feel that we’ve been getting something right!

Why Hackney?

Quite simply its where I live so it seemed a good place to start. But it is also an area where on the one hand there are huge numbers of creative people and then high levels of disadvantage. I was interested in how I could help these two communities start to meet each other rather than being separate entities.

What have you got coming up?

Our work continues all the time, so we’re constantly sending people in to do things like sharing their favourite you tube videos with older people, teach young people with brain injuries to make their own short films and blogs…

But we’re also really excited to be launching our new website later in the month, up until now the site has been quite basic, we’ve done most things over email & on paper but we’re taking a lot of this online. Hopefully it means we can reach lots more people and organisations.

We’re also planning a secret Spots of Time event later in the year….

How can people get involved?

We’d love to get more people volunteering and more organisations receiving Spots of Time.

Volunteering is easy, just take a look at our website, pick the activites you fancy and we’ll try to match you up with an organisation where you can make a difference. There’s no long term tie-in, you can do just one Spot of Time, or one hundred! In particular we have lots of long lunch hour opportunities for people working in Hackney. If you can’t do it yourself, recommend it to a friend, or better still volunteer with your friends.

We also want to work with more local organisations, especially those who would like volunteers in the evening or weekends – our new site should make it easy to sign up a group you care about, maybe you’re a parent at a school or have a relative who visits a day centre, you could be the one to get that organisation benefitting from this.

I’m also looking for great people to help Spots of Time grow so whether you’re an events masterminds, a tech geek or design whizz do get in touch if you’re interested in being part of what we do.

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You can find out more about Spots of Time on their website: www.spotsoftime.org.uk

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