Volunteering

Join the Sunnyside family as a volunteer and give a helping hand.

Sunnyside Rural Trust is a charity and social enterprise and an exciting place to volunteer. We are always looking for people to give a helping hand in our charity. You will be helping to support trainees with learning disabilities, to learn new skills and get valuable work experience in horticulture and our other support activities.

We have 3 sites in Dacorum where we work with people with learning disabilities. Berkhamsted https://www.sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk/our-sites/activity-centre/, Northchurch https://www.sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk/our-sites/northchurch/ and Hemel Hempstead https://www.sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk/our-sites/hemel-food-garden/.

Each site has its own vibe and specialities and as part of our therapeutic work across the 3 we grow a large range of vegetables, fruits, herbs, bedding and perennial plants and keep chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. It allows us to sustainably manage the land in line with Sunnyside Rural Trust’s environmental principles.

Examples of volunteering roles include:

  • Site maintenance such as weeding, strimming, mowing, watering plants, repairs to buildings
  • Preparing beds for planting
  • Potting up, planting and harvesting
  • Creating new projects at our sites, e.g. composting areas
  • Helping with craft activities such as making cards, working with willow and wood
  • Helping to make jam and preserves
  • Helping with our marketing and fundraising activities
  • Painting fences and our chicken coups
  • Helping in our site shops and off-site market stalls
  • Helping with administration
  • Driving our minibus to transport trainees or accompanying the driver to support our passengers

Why volunteer?

  • To put your own skills and experience to good use
  • Learn new skills
  • Meet new people
  • To get some exercise and fresh air
  • Put something back into the community
  • Socialise and have fun

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On our first day at the Northchurch site in 2012, Carole and I were shown polytunnel no.8 and were told by Hannah, the Horticultural Adviser, that it was planned to bring this polytunnel into use but it needed clearing first as it was covered in grass. It transpired that the ground had not been cultivated for fifteen years! A rotavator did not make any impression on the ground, which was very dry, so we set about clearing and digging with spade and fork. Five working days later we had finished! We seemed to have proved our worth as we have been volunteering at Northchurch ever since and have been warmly welcomed by staff and trainees.

Michael and Carole Ross Volunteers at Northchurch

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My favourite memory is when I saw the begonias in the walled garden at Gadebridge Park. The trainees had planted the plugs, potted them on several times and now the garden is a glorious display of colour.

Jean Thomas Volunteer at Hemel Food Garden

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Maggie has taken a lead running our high street market stall over the last couple of years, on a weekly basis. She turns up rain or shine and has shown absolute dedication to us.

She has developed a wonderful rapport with our trainees and customers, and has got to know our regulars really well. Maggie supports the trainees to develop their customer relation skills, upselling our products, learn how to work out cost, and give change as well as how to use the iPad to be able to accept Card payments. She has joined us at the Northchurch site, to support in the development of our new farm shop and she provides much needed financial and care support to Sunnyside.

Maggie Ladkin Volunteer at the Activity Centre & Northchurch

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The whole team were helping to fit a new polythene cover onto one of the polytunnels. Most of us were holding down the sheeting to stop it blowing in the wind as it was gradually rolled out and fixed in place. The instruction came, ‘Now you can all let go’, which was immediately followed by a huge gust of wind that lifted one whole side of the sheeting and left it flapping wildly in the wind. Everyone just burst out laughing – it was a great moment! Luckily the sheeting was quickly fixed in place with no harm done.

Alan Payne Volunteer at Hemel Food Garden

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Les has been volunteering for many years and takes a lead role working with the horticultural team. He has a wealth of knowledge regarding food growing that he shares with our staff and trainees.

Les was instrumental in setting up our Wigginton contract, leading to us litter picking fortnightly for them and in setting up our ‘no dig’ trial and process. He also passed on the contact info of the team who have built our new development at Northchurch, allowing us to offer more opportunities for adults with Learning Disabilities.

Les Smith Volunteer at Northchurch

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If you would like to experience the fun of working with us at Sunnyside, have some spare time and you’re thinking about volunteering why not get in touch with us and contact Farida Siddiqui Charlick for more information and a chat.

farida@sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk     01442 255 977