Get involved

Riley


Riley’s story

I run a couple of local websites and I popped into The Mill to find out if I could help promote their events. A year and a half later and I’ve been volunteering at The Mill every Wednesday to rebuild their website (which you’re now reading). The main drive behind these changes has been to ease the workload of the other volunteers who maintain the website, which I *think* we’ve achieved.

It’s been great in terms of my personal development, as I’ve been able to get experience managing multiple stakeholders and users of all levels to create something we can all be proud of.

As I work from home most other days, volunteering at The Mill has been a fantastic way to meet new people and socialise with people who aren’t my cat.

In my career as a web developer, my main joy is seeing people use something I’ve created and see it help them in their everyday life. The Mill has allowed me to see this on a daily basis as the volunteers and visitors use the website to find The Mill, organise events, find out what’s on.

The Mill has been a fantastic way to meet new people and socialise with people who aren’t my cat.


Mumtaz


Mumtaz’s story

In 2011 when The Mill was converting from the library to the centre it is today I was living with my husband in Leeds.  Up there in our village, our library was closing.  Like here, local people got together and started running it again as a library.  I’m a doctor specialising in psychiatry so well-being is very close to my heart.  On a Friday morning I’d run relaxation and breathing classes to address anxiety and anger management.

Visiting my daughter in Walthamstow she introduced me to everyone at The Mill.   She runs herbal workshops here.  l felt really welcomed.   Coming in, seeing the gentlemen reading the newspaper and people chatting was a nice scene to be part of.  I went back to Leeds and told everyone about this community centre – it’s been inspiring.

Unfortunately in 2012 my husband became ill and I took on the role as his full-time carer.  My three children encouraged us to come to London so they could support us more.    In 2015 we made the move to Edmonton.  Our children have been a great help looking after their dad – fantastic!  For example one of my daughters spends time with my husband when I volunteer at  The Mill once or twice a month.  With Sue I help at the monthly coffee morning and I’m an extra pair of hands at events that happen throughout the year. I find cooking very relaxing, and when The Mill celebrates World Food Day I donate food.  Also I very much enjoy the summer volunteer picnic.

The Mill really gives me a lot back. I take more out of here than I give.

The Mill really gives me a lot back.  I take more out of here than I give.  I have a nice break and I come back to my husband in a better mood.  I was born in India and our culture is very spiritual I really feel 99.5% of human beings are good only a small minority spoil it.  People are born to be really with each other and help each other.  I just like the company of other people and The Mill provides this.  I get a break and spend time with lovely people like Sue and I feel comfortable sharing my life with friends.


Nat


Nat’s story

I live locally and have always known about The Mill but I only really got involved about 3 years ago.  I met Mo who’s the person who is the driving force behind Art Works.  The Mill was looking at ways to raise money and Mo asked me if I had an idea.  That’s how the Postcard raffle (Greatest Little Art Show) was launched.  Mo and I realised that between us we knew 100 artists.  So we contacted everyone locally – professional artists, amateurs,  schools and asked for a donated art piece for the raffle.   A highlight for me was when Grayson Perry sent us a piece!

Since then I’ve led on several exhibitions and I get involved at Meet the Artist nights. I encourage everyone I know to help out and volunteer.  One highlight was a friend of mine, who’s film director came to one of our nights and through that  provided work experience for a student at Whitehall who was exhibiting.   On these events I set up the refreshment table and as we’ve a dry bar at The Mill I’ve come up with some inventive cocktails including The Mill Mijoto and the Coppermill Sunset.

Alongside art, catering is a real passion for me.  Few years back I set up a monthly Souper Wednesday.  A few months ago I re-launched it and it has been so popular we now make it a weekly event.

I’m a ‘suck it and see’ person and The Mill gives me the chance to give my ideas a go.  My dad was a coalminer and work incredibly hard doing something he didn’t love.  Compared to him my life is a dream and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at The Mill and the great friends I’ve made.

I’m a ‘suck it and see’ person and The Mill gives me the chance to give my ideas a go.

 


Kamila


Kamila’s story

My partner and I are originally from Poland and we moved to the area in 2015.  I was heavily pregnant with my second child. We have no family in this area and we didn’t know anyone locally. The Mill sign caught my eye every day when I walked past. I was curious to know what the building was all about. I’m glad I came into find out.. as this is a good place to start to get to know people.

With my two children we mainly use the playroom and the living room, my daughter attends the after school art club. All our family enjoy coming to the events, a favourite of mine is Star Wars Day.

I started volunteering in February 2017. I’m on the Comms team. This is really helping me to develop my interest in design into a career. My inspiration is an ad which read ‘Love your job, become a graphic designer’. I have helped out by producing design work such as flyers and posters as well as photographing events. I was really proud when a photo I took was used in the The Mill column featured in the Waltham Forest Echo newspaper. Through my contribution at the focus groups held to reshape The Mill website I appreciated being listened to and my opinions valued.

My family gets a lot from The Mill and helping put something back in makes me feel part of the community which is important for my children.

The best feeling is when your own happiness makes somebody else happy. I am happy having the opportunities The Mill gives me.

 


Sue


Sue’s story

In my career I’d worked in administration, event management and publications so when I retired I wanted to volunteer somewhere that I could put my work experiences to good use.  I only live round the corner so I came in to find out more.  I work on reception and I’m a member of the events team, for example I run Apple Day every year.  Also I help with the website and monthly newsletter.  My key role is ‘tidy, throw away person’.  

An unexpected bonus of volunteering has been how uplifting it has been to feel part of a community. I still remember being part of the Greatest Little Art Show, my role was recording all the ticket sales. The event was such a success and an enjoyable event – there was a real buzz and we raised a lot of money for The Mill. I felt I was part of a team working with other people all with the same goal – I found it very inspirational to be part of this community. The event was fabulous fun. Another event I enjoyed was the Contact the Elderly Tea Party. That was fantastic meeting some of the older people from the neighbourhood and hearing their stories and not forgetting eating the dainty cucumber sandwiches.

My rule of life is from a children’s novel, The Water Babies ‘Do unto others as you would be done by’. Volunteering here I can definitely live by this as everyone is welcome at The Mill.

 


Janet


Janet’s story

I’ve been volunteering at The Mill since 2014.  I’d been unemployed for quite a while and was finding it a struggle as I like to be busy.  I can’t stay indoors doing nothing as I always like to be on the go.  A friend suggested that I contact The Mill.  I popped in, filled in a volunteer form, had a chat, had my induction and then joined as a Receptionist and event volunteer.  I help out at events, do the shopping and try and put my hand to anything.  

An unexpected bonus of volunteering for me is the never knowing what you’ve let yourself in for!  I’ll always remember the first time I volunteered here – at the Fun Palace Weekend event.  It was manic and I was on refreshments.  So many people coming together.  I thought to myself ‘What have I let myself in for – is it always going to be this busy!’ 

You meet so many different people, everyone is so friendly.  Throughout my life I’ve struggled with shyness – I wouldn’t say boo to a goose!  But in the last few years I’ve come out of my shell I’ve gained more confidence.  I don’t feel so shy when I’m with family and friends and with everyone here being so friendly I feel like I’m with family. 

So my rule of life would be to never let fear get in the way.


Norman


Norman’s story

In the early days, when The Mill was still being refurbished I walked past and said ‘hello’ to Neil (volunteer) who was up a  ladder painting.  We started to chat and it went from there.  I volunteered because I wanted things to do, become attached and be part of my local community.  Initially I had a regular receptionist slot but then I went away.  Since I’ve come back I cover and fill in for any receptionists that can’t come in.  I help out at events such as the monthly ‘Meet The Artist’, where I serve food and drink and chat to visitors or representing The Mill at the Walthamstow Garden Party.  Also I’m one of The Mill Gardeners when I can.

An unexpected bonus of volunteering has been a sense of purpose and fulfilment. I’ve made new friendships, learnt new skills – I could go on…. One important thing I’ve found is that challenges are as important as opportunities. Volunteering can be challenging but you learn to adapt, you get the opportunity to learn from and with different cultures – it’s such a mix here. It’s a great place to overcome your own prejudices if you might have any.  

 

My rule of life is to live your life to the fullest without hurting too many people along the way volunteering gives me lots of opportunities to achieve this.

 


Isabel


Isabel’s story

I’m a retired librarian.  Five years ago Mo ‘press ganged’ me in to setting up our Honesty Library.  Since then I’ve kept it functioning, filing regularly donated new books.  I help at our knitting group, making sure everything is set up, supplies available, welcoming new participants and when necessary showing people basic knitting skills to get them started – I suppose general troubleshooting.  The Mill Knitters gets involved in a variety of projects including the Wetlands Swift project; Twiddle Cuffs for dementia patients and for Age UK, little hats for smoothie bottles. 

I’m on the Events team and often man a knitters table at events. Also I’m part of The Mill Gardening Group.   I’m no expert and the group welcomes anyone that can advise us and take a proactive role.

An unexpected bonus of volunteering has been the human warmth that I’ve received – this has in turn I feel increased my love for other people. It’s difficult to explain the joy that I receive. Just today, in a local street I bumped into someone I knew from The Mill. The woman spoke quite poor English but she flung her arms around me and gave me a big hug, she was so pleased to see me. That would never have happened if I hadn’t volunteered here. I’m surrounded by casual acquaintances and close friends and I’m so grateful that Mo persuaded me to come aboard.  

My rule of life is be kind and smile a lot and love my fellow humans – at the Mill I get plenty to smile about and there is a lot of love!

 


Hajrah


Hajrah’s story

I joined as a volunteer in early 2017 as I wanted  to do some community work.  I saw an ad and I thought it would be a great thing to do.  I was at uni and I felt that I needed to socialise more as I was working very hard as a student and needed an outlet.   Especially as coming here I could interact with people I wouldn’t normally meet.  I volunteer as a receptionist two afternoons a week.  One of the reasons I volunteered is for me to get to meet so many people, as we have a children’s room I am getting acclimated to being with young children.  Before coming here I’d been scared of kids!

 Another bonus for me is the Living Room, I really enjoy viewing the exhibitions they’re all so different! A highlight for me was when everyone came together to witness the lease being signed in the Living Room. I found it really uplifting. I felt I was part of a team – everyone working together with the same aim of making sure The Mill has a future. People had been here so much longer than me but I felt proud to be included.


In early 2018 through The Mill I was signposted to Eagles, East London Business Alliance’s graduate programme which after the interview process and a reference from The Mill I was recruited. This is a great opportunity for me and wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t volunteered here.

My rule of life is to try and do something out of your comfort zone as often as you can. For me joining The Mill was very much that and I am so glad that I took the big step (for me) to get involved.

 


Liam


Liam’s story

Back in 2012 I partially lost my eyesight and I was unemployed.  Living in Walthamstow all my life I looked locally to gain some work experience and build up my confidence.  I found out about The Mill through the Do-it.org.uk, a website that signposts  volunteers to charitable organisations.  The site recommended here and as it’s local and sounded fun I signed up.

My main role is as one of the receptionists, I come in most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Volunteers on Front Desk work in four hour shifts but as there’s a bank of volunteers I don’t have to worry about letting anyone down on days I can’t make it.  My role is to welcome people in, explain what we do and basic admin duties – I like to keep busy and there is always someone to chat too.  I also help out at events such as Harry Potter Day and Apple Day (that involved doing a lot of peeling and coring applies).  I put my hand to anything and roll my sleeves up.

Volunteering here has given me a greater appreciation of being in a community and what places like this can do. The warmth from coming here has made me value Walthamstow and the local area so much more. I get to interact with other people which in London especially is not easy as it can be an insular place – The Mill helps break through this.  

You need not be afraid instead learn from your mistakes and get out there and DO IT! I’d recommend volunteering to anyone looking for work.

I am a positive person and believe that you need not be afraid instead learn from your mistakes and get out there and do it!  I’d recommend volunteering to anyone looking for work.  Through volunteering I’ve gained experience that I used in my application and interview for a new administration job with a charity that supports people with blindness.  The Mill provided me with a reference and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities I gained here.