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It's Volunteers' Week

Published: 3 Jun 2013


This Volunteers' Week we're saying 'thank you' to all of our wonderful volunteers.

Toynbee Hall was founded by Samuel Barnett in 1884 on the principles of volunteering. Barnett established a University Settlement in East London, where a small community of ‘settlers’ could live and work amongst the local people. The settlers were resident volunteers who lived at Toynbee Hall, the vast majority of them were Oxford students or graduates, and many of them were from Balliol College.

 First residents of Toynbee Hall 

The first residents of Toynbee Hall. Front row (on ground): T.G. Gardiner, E.B. Sargant, T.H. Nunn, R.N. Blandy. Middle Row: Bolton King, Mrs Barnett, S.A. Barnett, R.E. Mitcheson, C.H. Grinling, G. Parker. Back Row: H.G. Rawson, V.A. Boyle, J. Murray Macdonlad, B. Wishaw, (name unknown).


Ever since, and for the past 129 years, Toynbee Hall has proudly been placing volunteers at the heart of its work. Last year, more than 400 volunteers brought their expertise, time and dedication to Toynbee Hall, contributing 24,845 hours of voluntary activity.

We really could not provide access to support and advice services without them. They are essential to everything that we do and make a real difference in the community. 

A few words form the head of volunteering

“Each year volunteers make an outstanding contribution to Toynbee Hall and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our committed and passionate volunteers for making a difference through being part of Toynbee Hall.' – Magdalena Nikolova, Head of Volunteering and Pro Bono Advice at Toynbee Hall.

 Meet our current volunteers

Tahiyat, is 19 and has been a volunteer at the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) since October. Founded in 1898, FLAC is the oldest surviving Free Legal Advice Centre in the world. It is dependent on the generous contributions of volunteer lawyers and law students, who give their time and expertise for free to provide the much-needed advice. Tahiyat says: “Having studied famous Toynbee Hall volunteers such as Clement Attlee or William Beveridge in History classes, I became inspired to volunteer for Toynbee Hall”. Read her story

Shobha Watts, organises arts and crafts sessions for our older people at the WellBeing Centre. Read her story

Hannah has been involved with E1 Active working with 10 and 11 year olds. She says: “It’s been a real privilege to be involved in such a successful and enjoyable project, and I sincerely hope that it carries on for future generations to enjoy”. Read her story

Vince was our latest Marketing Intern. He shares: “Besides the fact that I worked with such an inspirational and dynamic group of people, Toynbee Hall views interns as a great asset to their charity, and is the reason why I will endeavour to maintain a strong connection with the charity”.  Read about his experience

Jo was our historical research intern who worked on the booklet Icons of Toynbee Hall: Samuel Barnett. Read her blog post

The range of volunteering options at Toynbee Hall is vast and there might just be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for…

Become a volunteer

With roles as varied as trustees, fundraisers, researchers, administrators and direct service provision, we may have a role for you. Whatever you are looking for, join our team and we can help you meet your personal goals, develop new skills and give back to the local community.

See our Current opportunities

As June marks the centenary of Samuel Barnett's death, we're celebrating the impact of a social pioneer as well as the legacy which we are building on today.Over the course of the month, we will focus on Canon Barnett’s impact in London and across the world and bring together a new generation of social pioneers in a panel debate on 20 June. We are also asking our supporters to make a donation or hold a tea party to raise vital funds.

Explore this section of our website to find out more.