The Big Hand has a huge impact on our team as well as the charities they help. Here is a collection of the things our volunteers, as well as the charities themselves, have had to say about our partnerships:

Vauxhall City Farm

Lending a Big Hand to Vauxhall City Farm was Kirstie Steenkamp, who said “I completely support their objective to educate young people about farming and animals. They were lovely to work with and I will do it again.” with Tom Hillman adding “My time helping out Vauxhall City Farm at the Lambeth Country Show reminded me just how important community projects like this are – nothing brings people together like alpacas!”

In a more detailed account of her day with Vauxhall city farm, Amy Wong told us this: “So, we started the day by blowing up a gazillion balloons – which is an interesting experience first thing in the morning – then Adam got assigned to the entrance (being happy and welcoming, shaking the collection bucket, and policing for food and drink being brought onto the farm) and I was on the exit (reminding everyone to wash hands after handling animals, replenishing soap/hand towels and doing some MacGuyver plumbing to cope with waste water in the middle of a field)

Through the day we rotated through various duties, making sure no animals/children got lost/squished/bitten, collecting donations, and being creative when asked about the gestation cycles of poultry or what the animals’ names were. 

I learned 2 things:

1)       Normally I can’t stand children. However, on what was probably a very hot and tiring day, it was amazing to see how they were utterly captivated by some very normal British farm animals doing not very much.

2)       People donate really generously. I thought I’d be collecting mostly coppers, and people would be avoiding eye contact and dodging around me, but so many visitors would donate fistfuls of pound coins, or banknotes. Huge community love for the farm.

The staff were lovely, the whole thing was really well-organised, and I’d happily do it again. Recommend.”

When we caught up with Vauxhall City Farm they had this to say about our contribution: “It is a huge effort and the involvement of all the amazing volunteers means we have more people to look after the animal's needs.” later adding "We would not be able to run events such as the Lambeth Country Show without the help of volunteers."


Wimbledon Food Bank

When we caught up with the food bank and asked how much of an impact Zipcar had, the answer was simple; “Without volunteers, we couldn’t open the door. 100%.


Wimbledon Guild Fair

The Zipcar for Business team were the ones that helped out at the Wimbledon Guild Fair, and they said that “It was fantastic to be encouraged to volunteer our time at the Wimbledon Guild Fair. Whilst it was a 4am start for some of us, it was well worth it. There is something quite heart-warming about a bunch of people all working together to set up something that vast, in such a short space of time; all with the same goal of improving the lives of people in our own community. It was a great day out, an enjoyable thing to be a part of, and we were absolutely spoiled by glorious weather.” with another one of our volunteers adding “In an age where the spirit of community may be dying out, you would never believe it so here; everyone worked so hard to produce a wonderful day enjoyed by young and old alike, and was a pleasure to be part of it all.



Shelter from the Storm

On her day at Shelter from the Storm, Agnieszka Pinchinat-Miernik said “I can’t really find the words to describe it, it was completely different than any volunteering I’ve done before and probably the most useful and the one that has left the most lasting impression on me.” Dave Hazeldean also added “Completed my Big Hand shift at the shelter on Monday night and it was a great success, so much so that I’m going to see if I can continue to volunteer there in my spare time.

                Adrienne Scott is the most recent member of the Zipcar team to do a day at Shelter from the storm, and in a more detailed account she told us “The Shelter experience was amazing. I was actually REALLY nervous beforehand. Arrived at Shelter, which is basically a small warehouse space in an industrial centre, at about 8.30pm. I must have looked lost because a guy came up and introduced himself and started showing me around (I didn’t realise until several minutes in that he was one of the guests and not one of the volunteers). I met the other volunteers, most of whom were finishing up their dinner-evening shift and about to head home. I spent the first few hours chatting to people, getting my bearings and helping out with dinner clean up. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games were on and people were really into it. Walking in the lounge, you could easily mistake the place for a slightly run down youth hostel!

It wasn’t until one of the volunteers asked me to help out with an assessment for a new guest, that I was reminded of how much this service was needed and how serious some people’s situations were. Many new guests been moving between various shelters and hostels for a long time. Most other shelters only let people stay for a limited time and many aren’t free. SFTS is quite different from this and the stability it offers its guests is really valuable.

The overnight shift was pretty quiet. There was another more experienced volunteer on with me, and 39 guests staying. Things run to a schedule that volunteers oversee (e.g. last showers at 10.30pm, TV off at 11pm) but the guests are used to this. I got the impression that everyone (guests and volunteers alike) understood that this was a good place, and wanted to do what they could to keep things running smoothly. Everyone is respectful of each other and one of the last things a volunteer said to me before he left for the evening was that it was unlikely we’d have any trouble but, if we did, the guests would all back us up.

A nice bonus of the morning was being able to receive a swag of deliveries from various bakeries and cafes- they all drop over their day-old stock to shelter before their day’s deliveries. We ended up with loads of bread, and some great salads, sandwiches, rolls and wraps that would otherwise have been thrown out. Shelter isn’t open during the day so this meant the guests could take a salad or sandwich with them as they left for the day. Without this, most of the guests would otherwise need to wait until dinner for their next meal.

Overall, it was not what I was expecting at all, and definitely shattered my slightly Dickens-esque impression of homelessness.  I’ve already told them I’ll be going back.


Read the original Big Hand blog here