Sussex charities who need your help

Riding for the Disabled

Riding for the Disabled - Credit: Archant

Do you have a few hours to spare each week? Or perhaps you’re hoping to revitalise your CV for a change in career? There are a number of local charities doing great work in our communities who need your help. Jenny Mark-Bell and Duncan Hall take a look at just a few...

Children with Cancer Fund

Children with Cancer Fund is a Polegate-based charity set up in 1998 by Chris and Ursula Downton and friends. The charity aims to improve the lives of local children with cancer and their families by granting wishes – buying gifts or treats or contributing to living or travel costs.

“There is always something to do for a little charity like ours,” says Chris. “When we are working in the day volunteers might be able to cover events that we can’t.”

While there are many skills the charity would be keen to utilise – for example, someone to man their Facebook account once or twice a week or to man a tombola – “we have got to that stage where we have outgrown the kitchen table”, says Chris. They would love to hear from professionals such as solicitors willing to donate their time on a pro bono basis.

They are also looking to broaden their geographical reach, with the aim to strengthen their bases in Uckfield, Eastbourne and Hastings.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities write to or call the office on 01323 488561. Of course financial donations enable the charity to continue their valuable work and you can find out how to donate at

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Possability People

Sussex charity Possability People is all about making things possible for people, no matter what their situation. A range of services supports disabled people, older people, younger people and people with long-term health conditions or impairments.

As a registered charity, they are exacting custodians of their income: some comes from the government, some they generate themselves. A sophisticated volunteer programme is key to making funds go a long way and wherever Possability People has a project or service there is an opportunity to volunteer. They recruit for volunteers all year round. There are currently about 80 in roles as diverse as advice and advocacy, reception and administration, communications, employment support, Shopmobility, care and independent living support. About 62 per cent are themselves disabled.

The charity’s chief officer, Geraldine Des Moulins, says: “We really could not pack the punch we do without our committed team of volunteers who do extraordinary things to support other people and organisations.”

To find out more about Possability People, contact them on 01273 894040, email or go to

Riding for the Disabled

There are 18 RDA groups across Sussex, covering riding, driving, show jumping, endurance, children and adults. Each of these is a charity in its own right with a regional committee covering the south east.

“We always need skilled riding coaches but we also welcome volunteers with a variety of skills – PR, fundraising, treasurers, organisers – and we love to hear from young people with energy,” says Lindsay Correa, regional chairman. “Our volunteers often make lifelong friends and from a potential employer’s perspective it also looks great on a CV.”

Lottie Kyd, who volunteers at Gennets Farm, Horsham, says: “I’ve been volunteering for RDA for about four years now. The best part about volunteering for RDA is being able to interact with the riders and build relationships with them. It has been an incredible experience to see the riders improve their riding ability over the years and also to witness their self confidence and belief in themselves grow. No matter what their disability, riding seems to give them freedom and they always look truly happy on the horses.”


The RNLI is currently recruiting for lifeguards covering two beaches in East Sussex including Camber Sands.

Successful applicants for beach lifeguarding will receive world class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, as well as boosting their CVs.

Recruits will also be trained in using the latest lifesaving equipment including rescue boards, rescue tubes and defibrillators.

Allen Head, RNLI area lifesaving manager, said: “Working as a lifeguard has got to be one of the most rewarding jobs. Of course it’s incredible to be able to call the beach your office but far more importantly than that, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way.

“We want people with the courage, determination and the ability to draw on their training and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger.”

Applicants must hold a current National Beach Lifeguard Qualification – for more information see the RNLI website – and meet RNLI fitness standards.

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply online at

Age UK

The national charity Age UK aims to improve quality of life for older people.

Across East and West Sussex the proportion of the county’s population over pensionable age is well above the regional and national averages. Both the East Sussex and West Sussex branches are looking for volunteers, with varying roles available.

In West Sussex these range from providing practical home support to vulnerable adults newly discharged from hospital to joining the board of trustees.

There are also vacancies for helpers in centres in Crawley, Littlehampton, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and Bognor Regis. Full information on each role is available at

Volunteering opportunities at Age UK East Sussex are wide and varied: they include working in one of the charity’s shops; running fundraising stalls at local events; or supporting older people who have been affected by a scam.

For more information visit

Bodiam Castle

The National Trust has its own long-established volunteer programme.

Lance Woodman, visitor experience officer at Bodiam Castle, has worked closely with volunteers of all ages as front of house staff, tour guides and costumed characters. “We like to populate the castle with knowledgeable people who are personable and can bring the castle to life for our visitors,” he says. “There is an enormous variety of things they can do.” As well as an induction programme The National Trust runs a buddy programme, so newcomers are teamed up with experienced volunteers. “We encourage volunteers to do their own research to create their own characters or areas of interest,” he says. “There are a whole lot of stories to tell.”

As well as retired people, who Lance says tend to stay for a long time, Bodiam’s 80-strong volunteer team includes students on summer breaks wanting to gain experience of working in a historic environment. The amount of time they give varies – some volunteers give two or three days a week, while others just take part in special events, such as Bodiam Castle’s Cooking in the Medieval Kitchen which takes place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 February.

“Later this year we are opening a conservation studio which would be good for anyone interested in our archaeological collection,” says Lance. “We rely on volunteers, not just for filling gaps in our rotas, but for their enthusiasm and expertise. The National Trust’s mission statement is ‘forever for everyone’ and one of the ways we can fulfil that is by people coming and being part of the household.”

Brighton Fringe

Anyone wanting to enter the arts industry can find out more by volunteering in the May-long Brighton Fringe.

The charity relies on volunteers to man both city information points and the Participants’ Hub – a drop-in space for those putting on Fringe events – as well as flyering and promotion. Each weekend Fringe City takes over New Road with volunteers helping set up and take down the event, assist sound engineers and stage managers and steward the crowds. “We rely on the goodwill of volunteers to support us,” says Julian Caddy, managing director of Brighton Fringe, adding it is important the relationship benefits both sides with volunteers coming away with key skills they can use throughout their careers.

“A lot of people who have worked as volunteers at the Brighton Fringe have ended up being employed later on in the arts industry.” Volunteer events are held in the run-up to the May festival to provide further information, with shifts managed in four or six hour-blocks.

Visit or email

St Mary’s House, Bramber

When Sussex Life met the guardians of Elizabethan St Mary’s House in Bramber, owners Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton couldn’t praise their team of more than 70 volunteers highly enough. “The volunteers keep everything going,” said Peter. “They help in the gardens, look after the rooms, man the shop, do the accounts and office work, looking after all aspects of running the entire house.” The first person most people meet is Robin Laidlaw, who has manned the car park kiosk for four years, while all the guides within the house are volunteers too. Roger was assisted in clearing the five acres of extensive gardens and grounds by seven stalwart volunteer gardeners. Generally volunteers work two or three days a week during the summer opening months.

Guide Fiona Stephens, from Watersfield, near Pulborough, has worked at St Mary’s for 18 months: “There is a huge variety of people to work with, which I find very stimulating,” she says. “I was a visitor before – I used to bring my children many years ago.” St Mary’s House opens for the 2017 season from Sunday 30 April.


Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK meaning that people are going hungry every day for a variety of reasons.

The Trussell Trust partners local community groups to run 400 foodbanks around the UK. Users can obtain a voucher from a number of organisations, such as Citizen’s Advice, churches and doctors. The voucher is exchanged for a minimum of three days’ emergency food. East Grinstead Foodbank manager Tony Cox says that demand is high. “In the year leading up to 31 March 2016 we helped 981 people, two thirds of them adults and a third children. That’s a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.”

As well as a nutritionally balanced package of non-perishable food donated by locals either at the foodbank or at local supermarket collection points, users can collect household essentials such as soap, detergent and pet food. Tony says that there has been an increase in families using the foodbank – particularly before Christmas – and they are looking into offering food bags for the school holidays.

Volunteering roles could include preparing food parcels in the warehouse or user-facing roles which include chatting and determining food preferences.

If you are not able to give your time, donations of food and money are always gratefully received.

Tony says: “When I do talks I always preface my remarks by saying that I hope you never need a foodbank – but if you do they are there and people are fantastically generous.” | |

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