Get involved


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’.

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.

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.


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.  

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

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. 


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.

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.

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.       


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.

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!

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.  


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!  

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.

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.


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, 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.

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.

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.  

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.


Arfan’s story

I grew up round here so used to visit The Mill when it was my local library.  After it was reopened as a community centre, I’d walk past it on the way to the train station but never came in.  Not until I was off work convalescing and I joined The Mill Knitters group.  I was made to feel very welcome and produced some baby blankets.  This inspired me to offer my time as a volunteer.

My rule of life is to help others as much as I can as you never know when you may need help.  Getting involved at The Mill has allowed me to achieve this.

I help out at events, which involves me setting up, clearing up and managing things like selling cakes and chatting to people.  I also help with data capture and monitoring all the great activities happening here.

An unexpected bonus of volunteering has been the way it has helped me get more in touch and feel part of the local community.  Not just by coming to events but also the people I’ve got to know and now consider great friends.