On Wednesday 19 and Thursday 27 July 2023, professional services staff in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences volunteered to support local Bath charities as part of a team away day.

Staff were grouped into teams and spent the day supporting the community by helping out at Genesis Trust Foodbank, acting as shop assistants at Dorothy House, mucking in at Jamie's Farm, maintaining the surroundings at Prior Park, and harvesting and weeding at Root Connections. Staff also undertook a sponsored walk, in aid of Dorothy House.

The days were a great success, teams have been brought closer together, and relationships have been built and continued with the local charities that do such incredible work. It meant a great deal to the staff to be able to help out and give back to the community, it’s been three years since the last volunteer day. Read the stories of the day, they show what it meant to all involved, and why it will be a fixture in the calendar for years to come.

Dorothy House

The team was greeted warmly by managers Chris and Penny with a warm cup of tea and excitement about the day. They were shown how to work the till, and whilst apprehensive in the morning soon got into the swing of it. It was surprising how many people came through the doors, the team and the till were busy all day!

It was heartening to see the volume of donations the shop receives on a daily basis, the first task was quality control, and it was great to see nothing is wasted. Anything not suitable for the shop will be picked up by a rag collector.

Sandra, Programmes Administrative Assistant, said:

I chose Dorothy House Hospice Care for my Volunteer Day group because a very dear friend of mine called Jo died of cancer in 2020 during lockdown and received excellent care at the Dorothy House Hospice in Winsley. It felt great to contribute in some small way by working in the shop. Of course, during the day a few items caught our eye. I know the money will go towards a fantastic charity. Thank you so much to Dorothy House for having us for the day, not least for the regular hot beverages and chocolate cookies!

Prior Park/Bath Skyline

Split over two locations, Prior Park and Solsbury Hill, part of the Bath Skyline, colleagues enjoyed a day of gardening with the occasional picnic thrown in. Made up of a mixture of teams from across the Faculty, the group enjoyed meeting new faces and sharing stories about their day-to-day. Apparently, Prior Park is a great place to bring a first date (no names shall be disclosed!).

The team raked, weeded and mulched away, enjoyed the aforementioned picnic under a tree, and even got to make the acquaintance of a tiny little frog and a very inquisitive songbird. And as if all the fresh air wasn’t exhausting enough (it was actually quite chilly), the final five-minute walk up the hill to the bus stop in the afternoon nearly had some crawling on all fours (again, no names shall be disclosed).

Jennifer, Marketing Officer, said:

We had a great time and the team at Prior Park were lovely. Tired, but very much fulfilled after a good day’s volunteering. No rain, no heat, and no stress – 10/10!

Jamie’s Farm

The day started with a warm welcome of big smiles and home-baked flapjacks, which was an excellent introduction to Jamie’s Farm as an organisation: one full of quiet determination, drive and heart. A beautiful farm-grown lunch and informative introduction to the work that Jamie’s staff do to build the confidence and resilience of vulnerable young people made for an interesting insight into the charity’s mission and impact.

The team worked in small groups throughout the day and were able to make good progress on their tasks. Everyone enjoyed getting stuck into their jobs, which ranged from sheep herding and gardening to mucking out the barns and clearing a patio area. There was also a farm tour explaining all about the amazing work the Farm does with the local community.

Delicious homemade cakes and a home-grown-and-made lunch were exceedingly well received, eaten with the farmhouse team who shared experiences of their work with young people in different settings.

Alice, Programmes Administrator, said:

The opportunity to try out a range of activities on a working farm was unique, and somehow the kind and charismatic staff even made shovelling muck a joy! It was a great day of team building and provoking thought about how we too can become more curious, playful and collaborative and implement the ‘Jamie’s spirit’ into our own lives and working relationships.

Emily, Business Engagement Manager, also enjoyed the day:

It was wonderful to feel part of the Jamie’s Farm team for a day. One of their guiding values is generosity and this was certainly central to our visit. Rob, the Farm Food and Horticultural Manager, told us we were three times as efficient as their usual visitors, which made us feel pretty special!

Genesis Trust foodbank

The day started with an introduction to the bank explaining all about the donations and how it is distributed to families and the three pick-up points around Bath. 68,000kgs of stock were distributed to those who needed it last year!

The team were moved to hear about how the Trust support the homeless and vulnerable people in the community. As well as receiving emergency food parcels, people can access further support when they come to the Foodbank centres. At their sessions they have advisors from Citizens Advice, Clean Slate and the Samaritans to help people to move on from their crisis. They have also started a book bank with support from local companies, providing new books to children and adults when attending the centres. It is a hugely positive and popular offering with many people really engaging with it and appreciating the books on offer.

Jane, Programmes Administrator, said:

The Genesis Trust group recently arranged an on-campus foodbank collection across the Faculty so it was great to volunteer and see the team in action. It was so interesting to hear about their work supporting the homeless and vulnerable people in the community. Nearly 5000 people were given emergency support last year, including 1400 children. We were grateful for the opportunity to spend the afternoon helping such a great community group and a deserving cause.

Root Connections

Roots Connections is a Community Interest Company which grows fresh, chemical free vegetables and flowers which they sell as veg boxes and bouquets online and at local farmers markets. The money generated from the sales is reinvested into the project, to support the residents living in the onsite Dairy House and fund their outreach centre in Wells.

The Dairy House is a direct access hostel providing emergency housing for men and women aged 25 and over who are homeless or rough sleeping. Connect Outreach, based in Wells, works with vulnerable adults with complex needs. They provide support for those who are homeless, rough sleeping and many other needs, through a variety of support provision.

Alison, Placements Administrator, said:

We were able to see the full cycle of the planting and harvesting process during our visit. We were involved in harvesting, digging, and weeding a shallot patch – by the end we had exhausted all ‘shallot’ jokes imaginable! Once cleared we planted some flowers which would produce blooms for the autumn bouquets. We also learnt to prepare, and plait harvested garlic for sale. A huge thank you to Kathy and Helen for guiding us during our visit.

Sponsored walk

It was a sunny day, perfect for a 13-mile walk around the outskirts of Bath, raising money for Dorothy House. Colleagues met by the canal off Bathwick Hill and headed towards The George Inn at Bathampton, no stopping at the pub unfortunately (that would come later). From here, the walk headed up through Sally in the Woods and on towards Warleigh. No need to mention the wrong turn, it only added half a mile to the journey!

After walking along the river, the next stop was the impressive Dundas Aqueduct and a stop for lunch at The Angelfish, a grateful break for everyone. Only 5 miles to go! Lunch done, up past Monkton Combe School and a testing climb, eventually arriving at Shaft Lane after much encouragement within the group.

The last part of our walk saw the lovely Rainbow Woods, past the Cats & Dogs Home and around the Bath Skyline, arriving back at the University via the golf course. 13-miles done with stunning views, weather and company. And £620 raised for Dorothy House!


If you’d like to like to support any of the charities you can find more information online: