Community building Member Stories

Sally’s volunteer work provides hot meals and warm spaces to those in need

Written by Roisin O'Neill

Kindness is core to Nextdoor’s purpose: to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighbourhood they can rely on. Kind acts that help bring communities together are critical, especially in times of crisis. As the UK faces rising energy prices, community hubs that provide hot meals and warm spaces are lifelines for those in need. We chatted with Sally, a neighbour on Nextdoor, about her volunteer work and how she helps her community.

“I am the Hospitality Team Leader at St Stephen’s Church, I am committed to helping the community and drawing people together. I would like to see more neighbours helping each other and becoming more sociable.”

Sally is a busy bee. Every weekend, the volunteer team at the church host community sessions which range from hot meals, games evenings, arts and crafts workshops and there’s even a community gardening session.

“For a couple of hours, people can come to a warm hall, eat some food and have a conversation, maybe even learn a new skill. Everyone’s welcome.”

The church has a donation box for those who can afford to give, last month 27 people turned up but she expects more as the cost of living crisis puts more strain on people.  Some of the food is prepared at home and some at church.

“Someone did 20-odd baked potatoes in their oven and brought them in! We cater for dietary requirements so there are always vegan and gluten-free options.”

In between preparing for craft workshops and baking puddings for the church, she also runs an ASD group for local parents of autistic children to support one another. The group meet online monthly and have access to professional speakers who provide parents with information and guidance. 

Sally mentions her own disability (EDS) prevents her from going out to many places but her community work provides her with a way of uniting people and Nextdoor helps her to connect with a larger group of people.

“I believe in the power of good that technology can facilitate. Nextdoor helps me interact with more of the community and gain valuable local updates.”

As many neighbours are facing increasing pressure due to the rising cost of living, having safe, warm and welcoming community spaces is vital. We hope Sally’s community work inspires others to seek access if they need it and find ways to contribute to help if they can.

Is it all doom and gloom though? I asked Sally how to brighten the day of her neighbours and overcome any conversation barriers.

“It’s an old joke that British people only talk about the weather, but it really does work. Sunny days are best as they get people smiling straight away. Why not introduce yourself and say what you’re interested in? It’ll be easy for people to find a way to connect with you.”

Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to your community, meet new people and even learn new skills. We hope you are feeling inspired and uplifted by this story. If you already participate in a local community activity or volunteering, share it on Nextdoor to gain more awareness and spread positivity in your neighbourhood.

Sally lives in Hounslow, London with her husband and son. If you’d like to join Nextdoor to connect with your neighbours, click here.

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