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Meet our current volunteers

Our volunteers are at the heart of what we do. Here are some of our current volunteers:


Tahiyat, 19, Volunteer at the Free Legal Advice Centre

Tahiyat has been volunteering for Toynbee Hall’s Free Legal Advice every Wednesday since last October. Tahiyat lives locally (Newham) and decided to have a gap year after finishing her A-levels. After the summer, she will be going to university to study physics. Reflecting on her experience at Toynbee Hall, she says:

“I wanted to get involved in a long term volunteering experience. Having studied famous Toynbee Hall volunteers such as Clement Attlee or William Beveridge in History classes, I became inspired to volunteer for Toynbee Hall. Besides, it is a charity that has so many sides to its work that I  knew straight away it was the right organisation for me to get involved with. My volunteering experience as an administrative assistant for the Free Legal Advice has helped me gained organisational skills that I will be able to apply to any job in the future. I think in the though job market out there, volunteering is a great opportunity to build experience, gain useful skills and show initiative. As a Bengali speaker, I have also felt that I did make a real difference in the community, helping people communicate with the legal advisors when they did not speak the same language. My experience at Toynbee Hall has made me grow up on a personal level and gave structure to my week on my gap year. It’s been a really great experience and Toynbee Hall is a subject of conversation that tends to often come up with friends and family!”

Arthur and Florence Hing

Arthur Hing and his wife Florence, volunteer at the Wellbeing Centre


Arthur Hing, 74 from Bromley-by-Bow, is a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who was awarded the Tower Hamlets Civic Award in 2011 for his charity work and has been volunteering at Toynbee Hall’s Wellbeing centre once week for the last two years to help older people who attend the Lunch Club. He uses massage, reflexology and acupuncture to bring comfort to patients -despite battling his prostate cancer. He reveals: “for me volunteering makes me forget about my own problems and struggles. I love to see people happy after their session with me. There’s nothing like seeing someone who leaves with a smile!” His wife Florence, who is also retired, comes in to help people with translations when needed. She speaks Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese and also helps her husband with consultations.


Shobha Watts, arts and crafts at the Wellbeing Centre

Shobha has been coming to volunteer at the Lunch Club weekly for over six months where she organises arts and crafts sessions with older people. From making a juice carton into a wallet, to turning beer bottles tops into placemats, to crochet knitting, and making bowls with paper maché, Shobha masters it all and enjoys teaching her skills to others. She says: “the staff are brilliant and so enthusiastic at Toynbee Hall. It’s such a lovely atmosphere and the manager here really makes the most out of the volunteers’ talents. It’s by volunteering and promoting recycling that I’ve discovered I was green fingered!” Shobha also speaks five languages: Punjabi, Hindi, Swahili, Gujarati and English, so she’s a great person to have around the Wellbeing Centre!

Wellbeing centre volunteers

Jahannathul, 18 Maisha, 20 Beuty, 20, Shumina, 19 and Salma, 19, volunteers at the Wellbeing Centre

These students have been volunteering at the Wellbeing Centre during holidays as part of their course in Health and Social care at the Tower Hamlets College. They started at the beginning of February and mentioned that at the beginning of their volunteering experience at Toynbee Hall, it was difficult to communicate with the older people, but as they got to know each other better, things became really interesting and fun!

Jahannathul recalls: “there’s always the initial nerve at the beginning, but the staff were really amazing at helping and supporting us”. For Shumina and Salam, their volunteering experience has been really positive for their career development. “We needed to get the theory that we learn at college into practice and see if we would be capable of doing the job.  We have to achieve 100 hours of compulsory work experience to get our qualification and Toynbee Hall was the perfect place to be”. Shumima said: “honestly, I’ve been to many centres but this one is truly special. I feel comfortable here and the staffs are amazing, treated us as equals and were so helpful. They even give us support and advice on what to do after we achieve this qualification.” Maisha concludes: “I would really encourage people to volunteer at Toynbee Hall, everyone is lovely here”