Best of Volunteering


Best of Volunteering is a project run by Thanet Volunteer Bureau in partnership with Volunteer Centres across Kent as part of the Stronger Kent Communities Programme.*

For a visual overview of our Volunteers Fairs so far view the pdf below.

Best of Volunteering - Volunteers Fairs edit


Scroll down for reports of Best of Volunteering events.


We will be working with local communities across Kent to run Volunteer Fairs in Thanet, Dover, Dartford, Canterbury, Shepway, Ashford, Swale, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Gravesham, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge.

What is a volunteers fair?

The Fairs are a chance for local community groups, charities and voluntary sector organisations to showcase what they do, network with each other, celebrate their existing volunteers, give out information and advice – and potentially find new volunteers. They are also a chance for local communities to see what’s happening in their area and how to get involved. Opportunities range from lighthouse and castle volunteers to skate park helpers and police cadets to visitors for isolated older people, conservation workers and much much more!

Volunteer Awards and Celebration

We will also be celebrating volunteers at the events with mini-awards presentations, photoshoots and announcements.

And to top it off in 2018 we will have a huge volunteer awards celebration in a central location inviting all the people we’ve met at the fairs across the country.

*Stronger Kent Communities programme

Is a voluntary sector partnership including Funding for All, Action with Communities in Rural Kent, KentCAN and a number of the Volunteer Centres from across Kent including Thanet Volunteer Centre.  It is funded for at least three years, although it is intended to create a sustainable model of support for the Volunteering Community Sector in Kent in the longer term.

2017 events:

For a visual overview of our Volunteers Fairs so far view the pdf below

Best of Volunteering - Volunteers Fairs edit


Sevenoaks Volunteers Fair

Thursday 14th December – The Plaza (The Stag Theatre) – festive volunteers fair with mince pies and mulled wine and “moving on donations” for homelessness charity The Bridge Trust.


The Bridge Trust Donations

Bridge Trust - Items for collection at stalls

Swale Volunteers Fair 2017

Tunbridge Wells health and wellbeing-themed event

Maidstone Volunteers Fair

Ashford Volunteers Fair

Generously sponsored by Stanhope Plc and Lendlease. For a visual report of the event view the pdf below.

Stanhope and Lendlease report


Our Fourth Event:

Our Folkestone Event for National Volunteers Week saw 30 Stalls filling two rooms at Shepway Volunteer Centre representing youth and older people’s projects, criminal justice, advice & advocacy, history, learning disabilities, health & wellbeing.

Thank you to past mayor Cllr Martin Salmon and his wife Sheila for presenting 100 certificates at our awards presentation.

Thank you to our Best of Volunteering French interns Caroline and Coralie for helping in the run up to the event and on the day. Thanks also to Stronger Kent Communities Volunteer Champions Gary Marsh and Ray White for photographing the event (Gary) and flyering in the neighbourhood to publicise the event (Ray).

Promotion included flyers around town and through 1,250 letterboxes, a mix of flyers in school book bags, an article in the Folkestone Herald, appearing on Folkestone Academy FM radio, and online listings and through the job centre, East Kent College and Folkestone Town Council.

Feedback was positive:

“Wonderfully set out, amazing event, feel honoured to be part of this…”

“Good hospitality, helpful organisers, very friendly.”

“We have had enquiries of all ages which has been beneficial for us and particularly in volunteer fundraising which doesn’t normally happen.”

“Great opportunity to network and learn about the other agencies.”

“Positive, motivational, educational and uplifting and fun – thank you.”

Please see our National Volunteers Week post of volunteer stories from East Kent Sands, Kent MS Therapy and Shepway Citizens Advice Bureau from the event.

Our Third Event:

31 stalls, a networking visit from Kent Community Foundation offering funding to groups and a busy Market Day in Dartford.

Thank you for helping make this event possible:

The Priory Shopping Centre for donating the venue and taking such wonderful photographs. Thanks to Dartford’s new mayor Cllr Rosanna Currans for making our awards ceremony such a success for the volunteers receiving recognition awards – congratulations to you all – and thanks to The Net Church and Spital Street Methodist Church for donating the trestle tables. Thanks to Dartford Living Magazine for sponsoring our flyers and for the editorial in May’s issue.

Feedback from stallholders:

“We thought it was a really good event and had a lovely day. We had quite a few people interested and I got their emails and have written to them so hopefully we will get some volunteers from this event.” – Pamjit Ellenor.

“We felt Dartford Volunteers Fair was well worth us attending. We find this area quite tricky to recruit in and we had some positive conversations with people who we feel could go on to apply on our website. There were three possible quality volunteers which is great.” – Kate Beanstalk Kent

“We had to replenish our stall with leaflets -we were busy! Loads of chat and enquiries about volunteering in the centre and the community.” Age UK North West Kent

“We’ve had one nursing home asking for our services and one definite volunteer – he’s coming in tomorrow!!! Four or Five organisations want us to give talks to their clients and people here are interested in sending clients to us.” – Wellbeing Link

“Great for networking with other organisations and for explaining Mind services” – North Kent Mind

“Gained referrals for services and one keen volunteer. Two other possible volunteers interested.” – Kent Young Carers

“Very well organised and a great opportunity to raise our profile and plant some seeds for recruiting volunteers” – Jen Crossroads Care Kent

“Fantastic Event – thank you!”- Kent Adult Education

“Great event!” – Making Miracles

“We got quite a few people interested – 15 email addresses and possibly a few people interested in using our service. It was very worthwhile. A lot of people wanted to talk and take a leaflet. We gave out an awful lot of leaflets!” – Diana Victim Support

“We have two people interested in volunteering already, 1 person has made an appointment to come and talk to us – and all by 9.30am!!!!” Berni North West Kent Volunteer Centre

Volunteers at the event:

Kathy, aka The Soup Queen, has volunteered for the Healthy Living Centre’s community cafe for 7 years, she runs a woman’s knit and knatter group and is vice-chair of the Residents Committee for Dartford. She was facepainting at the event.

“I volunteered as soon as I retired. A lot of people in our community need help. I was bored at home and volunteering is a way of giving back to the community I love – I want to make it as nice as possible.”

Carol (pictured second from right) is a shop manager for Ellenor:

“I started as a volunteer at Ellenor so I know volunteering is a great route into work and for boosting people’s confidence. I have a volunteer in my shop who came in with no skills and now does all the behind the scenes stuff and opens the shop. I’ve seen her change from someone shy and unconfident to applying for jobs. She’s made a huge difference at Ellenor.”

Diana (pictured left) has volunteered for Victim Support for 4 years and supports people who have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence among others:

“We don’t do counselling but we give a listening ear and help with coping mechanisms. It’s so rewarding when I see someone recovering and getting their life back. We’re there for someone until they decide they don’t need us anymore.”

Dartford WI runs a lunch club, collects for the Trussell Trust foodbanks and supports the women’s refuge, it’s a social group and educational institute:

“I’m a late mum and we’re finding a lot of late mums and young professional women are joining. I think it’s to find a network of people and get more involved in the community. For me, I lived in Dartford but worked in London and that was where my life was. Through the WI I’ve done horticultural courses and we share allotment tips and seed potatoes and plug plants for our summer show.”


All Directions volunteer Chris (left) whose son Craig (middle) is an All Directions service user and a volunteer mentor at the group:

“I just can’t stay away. It’s such a wonderful bunch of young adults, you get attached, and it’s better than staring at four walls. I even do maintenance and painting when it’s closed.”

Our second event:

Thanks to Jez Hulme from Thanet Stories for making a great audio recording from Thanet Volunteers Fair. Listen by clicking HERE

Feedback from visitors:

“Very helpful people to talk to and I’m leaving feeling far more positive that I can be useful! :-)”

“I’ve chatted to people and got to know what they do. I’ve collected lots of leaflets – lots of bedtime reading! Definitely worth coming!” – Ellen

“Very useful, very uplifting and inspiring. So many lovely caring people!”

“Thanks for organising such a great event – found some amazing organisations within my field of competence.” – Isabele

“Great to have so many organisations in one place. Well done.”

“Great idea, lots of information which is helpful. Great chatting with people.”

“I was worried I couldn’t volunteer, but coming here today, I’ve found two stalls that interest me. Macmillan EK – because I had cancer and was helped by Macmillan so I’d love to do something to help someone else – I’d chat about what’s on the TV and get away from cancer – that’s what I’d have wanted – normal day to day things.” – Clare, 68.

Volunteer awards:


Congratulations to all the award winners. Without all those volunteering in Thanet our community wouldn’t be as strong. Thank you for making a difference.

Feedback from organisations:

“Thank you for a fantastic opportunity to link in with other local organisations and attract volunteers.” – Oasis Domestic Abuse Service

“Fantastic Event.” – Disability Drop In Centre

“Thank you for such a well organised event – we really appreciate the opportunity to participate.” – Churches Conservation Trust

“Really good interaction with other groups – so very useful.” – Thanet Lions Club

“Very good venue for – parking, atmosphere/buzz, access, facilities.” – Macmillan EK

“Well organised, great opportunity for us.” – Beanstalk

“Many thanks – a very valuable time.” – St Augustine’s Ramsgate

“Thank you – great networking!” British Red Cross

“Great atmosphere from everyone, thoroughly enjoyed the event.” – Hugin Viking FC

“Nice to see what other organisations are doing in the community. Good for networking. Smoothly run.” – Thanet Coast Project

“Good atmosphere, lovely to have the mayor giving awards. Well organised.” – Motor Neurone Disease Association

“Organised by a friendly and enthusiastic team!”

This event was made possible by Grosvenor Casino donating the space, refreshments and tables and Cllr Karen Constantine by funding 5,000 flyers – Thank you very much indeed.

Thank you to Broadstairs Mayor Peter Shaw for hosting the mini awards presentation and to Chairman of Thanet District Council the Rev Stuart Piper for coming along to support the event and take part in the awards. We appreciate your support.

Our first event:


Well done to every volunteer in Dover District Volunteering Dover-District who makes it such a great place to be & to our award winners at #DDVF17

Kent Police : “We found it beneficial – 12 firm volunteer applications & double that in expressions of interest”

“Definitely worthwhile because of the people we connected with & people we could help. Great to network.” Kent MS Therapy Centre (KMSTC)

“We really enjoyed the event, met lots of people & were able to educate people about RSPCA Fundraising Shop Deal” (pictured)

Neil (pictured): “It’s been really good getting out of my flat and talking to people & spreading the word about Dover Big Local.”

Visitors (pictured): “We’ve booked a first aid course for our group Branching Out and we learned a lot.”

Some of our award winners:

Special Sgt Paul Johnson & SC Devi Patel: “We love the interest the job provides and the camaraderie” (pictured)

“It’s nice & peaceful. You have a laugh & a joke & I love the birdlife & wildlife.” Why Chris volunteers The Bay Trust (pictured)

Dover White Cliffs Royal British Legion’s Ted Smith: “It was excellent. It was well worth coming, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.” (pictured)

THANK YOU – all the stallholders for getting involved in #DDVF17, Dover Greeters for welcoming people on the day, the volunteer helpers who did loads on the day, the Mayors of Dover and Deal for showing their support, Chairman of Dover District Council Sue Chandler for thanking everyone who came along and who make up the volunteer community of Dover, Deal & surrounds and our award winners for coming along to celebrate their volunteering.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS – Dover Town Councillor Pam Brivio and her town council colleagues Cllr Ann Jenner and Cllr Veronica Philpott for sponsoring our refreshments for visitors and helpers (and stallholders in the end) and for sponsoring 5,000 flyers which went to community hubs, cafes, libraries, job centres, were handed out in the street in the run-up to the event and on the day and posted through hundreds of doors in the local area and Dover District Council for sponsoring venue Dover Town Hall for today’s #DDVF17 to celebrate & promote volunteering.