Support Volunteer Champions

Today I’m writing about something a little different on the blog, but I hope you will all find it interesting and perhaps inspiring.

The UK volunteering and learning charity CSV are currently celebrating the work of volunteers past and present across the UK to help inspire a new generation of people to volunteer in communities around the UK.

The campaign is called ‘Volunteer Champions’ and will see CSV reveal archive photo footage from the past 50 years, highlighting the continued importance of volunteers throughout a period which has seen huge political, social and cultural change in society.

CSV Volunteer Champions

Look how jolly these volunteers are! But there are many more volunteers who every day quietly go about changing the world for the better.

The campaign asks people to share their experiences of volunteering in order to inspire others.

I have had two experiences in volunteering, each very rewarding and I believe the work I did help shaped who I am today and had some impact on my community.

A few year’s back I worked as a volunteer in the ‘Cat Flap’ as it is known locally, which is the Cambridge Cats Protection Charity Shop. Although I did not have direct contact working with the furry felines, I helped to raise money via the shop and various events.

The most important thing I learnt from this volunteering experience was how to interact with people from all walks of life and that donating even a small item you no longer need can help to feed animals, maintain their care or assist with re-homing.

The shop is currently recruiting for a volunteer manager, so if animals are your passion and you are close to Cambridge do take a look.


My kitty Tammy

My second experience of volunteering was at Cambridge Art Salon as marketing assistant. The salon’s policy of inclusion reaches out to both marginalised groups and individuals in the community with a passion for the arts and creativity. Knowing that I had contributed to a community in some small way was very rewarding and seeing marginalised groups enjoying their creative sides was well worth it.

Cambridge Art Salon Opening

I chose to volunteer at places that fitted my passions and I would not hesitate to volunteer again for causes I feel strongly about. Even if I could only spare an hour a week, I know it would be worthwhile.

I love that each of the images shared throughout the campaign have such meaning behind them and I find myself wondering what impact those volunteers had on society or an individual’s life.

CSV Volunteer Champions Campaign

As part of the campaign, CSV are also running the ‘Young people can do great things’competition.

Young People Can Do Great Things

They have teamed up with Catherine Flood of the V&A to run a poster design competition celebrating the potential of young people. You can find out more here.

Young People Can Do Great Things Competition

If you’re 25 or under get arty and champion the potential of young people to achieve great things!

Perhaps my volunteering experiences are not as heroic as some, but I am pleased to have had the opportunity to volunteer in my community in a small way and I hope some of you will feel inspired to do so too!

I would love to hear about your volunteering experiences in the comments below and if you want to engage in the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #VolunteerChampions.


Postcard from Cambridge

For a while now I’ve been getting to grips with my SLR Camera and venturing out on photography trips around my home city. Cambridge is hugely photographic, with plenty of postcard images on every corner. Combined with the creative buzz, architecture, river views and green spaces, it is difficult not to feel inspired every day. I know I am lucky to live here.

I hope you will enjoy my ‘tour’ of the city through this post. If you don’t even plan to ever visiting Cambridge, I hope the photography will at least be something nice to look at.

The most iconic/postcard image of the city is Kings College, used by locals and tourists as a hotspot for outdoor lunch or meeting up (weather permitting) to watch the world go by.

Just opposite, is the super tasty and decadent Fudge Kitchen where you can taste, make and buy SLABS (yes, slabs) of fudge to take home. I recently tried the maple syrup & walnut fudge and it.was.amazing. They even have a loyalty card with double points on a Friday. Win.

The Market Square hosts all manner of sellers, incuding my favourite vintage sellers Retrovert and the Ostrich Farmer on Sundays. Waffles, fresh flowers, cakes and fruit and veg all week, come rain or shine. A shopping must for visitors and residents.

The River Cam is my little haven for quiet time and walks. Equally you can join the masses and punt along the backs of the college or even get up at the crack of dawn for rowing training. I am lucky enough to live incredibly close to the river.

My prerequisite for living in Cambridge, was getting a bicycle. It is the best way to get around the city and my trusty dutch bike gets me places in all weathers! You see all sorts of cyclists in the city, from those riding with an umbrella to pooches in baskets.

The Sheep Shop is a definite for knitters and crochet fans. Tucked away along the river, this quiet haven of yarn includes a shop and courses at a reasonable price. This weekend I will take the first steps towards learning crochet – watch this space!

I hope you enjoyed the tour today!

Claire x

Creative Spaces

I recently had the fantastic opportunity of completing a 6 month internship in marketing for Cambridge Art Salon. After working and studying in London, I really wanted to find something that would allow me to reconnect with the Cambridge art scene and this experience did just that.

After responding to a post on good old twitter, I got in touch with the salon’s Creative Director Ruthie Collins, who is an excellent advocate for nuturing artists and developing local community arts.

In the heart of Romsey, the space is a unique creative hub in Cambridge, with over 20 resident artists working on site across the fields of fashion, contemporary art, the media and crafts. There is also a community gallery for exhibitions, events and even yoga classes. Resident artists sell their work in a shop based in the gallery, which ranges from upcycled bags and glass jewellery (earrings in the image below), to sculpture and millinery.

One of my favourite resident artists is Ruth Schmid, a creator of upcycled bags and gadget/phone cases. Fully embracing the upcycling trend, Ruth uses recycled advertising banners, bicycle inner tubes or tarpaulin to create her pieces such as the phone case shown here.  Anything that uses bicycle parts to make something so useful, is a perfect Cambridge art in my eyes…especially given the amount of abandoned, broken bicycles around! Find out more about Ruth’s creations here

Resident artist Diana Probst, paints in a classical style and often asks her twitter followers for ideas/subjects for her paintings. Admirably, she recently completed a successful challenge to create a painting in a day, which gave me a fresh perspective on productivity. You can find out more about Diana’s work here and follow her often witty tweets here: @dianaprobst

UK Handmade recently interviewed the salon’s Creative Director, Ruthie Collins in their Spring magazine about the salon, its emergence and future plans. The magazine is worth a read if you are into the arts and all things handmade.

The salon allowed me to work flexibly whilst balancing a full-time job and I really valued working with such talented artists. It really inspired me to think about my own creativity and what is achievable. Apart from meeting a great group of people, it has given me the confidence to explore more of the diverse Cambridge art scene and get creating myself.

For further information on the project, please visit the Cambridge Art Salon website.

Claire x

  • Images:
  • (1) Cambridge Art Salon – Mayors Opening Sept 2011
  • (2) Qhere creations
  • (3) Jill Fordham glass jewellery