Bringing hope where there is despair
We want volunteering at Whitechapel to be fun, rewarding and challenging. The skills, opinions and experiences of each volunteer are valued and we want them to be an integral part of the organization.
Volunteers can come in small or large groups (and occasionally as an individual). Many work together in the city or in Canary Wharf, and choose to assist within the Mission before going on to work each day.
"Thanks for the photos and a massive thank-you to you and all the staff at the Whitechapel Mission, (especially Michelle who is amazing!!!) , for allowing me and my fellow colleagues to participate this morning. What you do for these disadvantaged people is truly humbling and I have nothing but admiration for you all!!! It was a really enjoyable experience and a great opportunity to help someone less fortunate than myself. I will remember this for ever and hopefully I can come back soon." - Mark
If you decide you would like to volunteer with us and book a date, then we would expect you to show up. Of course, there may always be very good reasons which may force you to cancel, but we do need a high level of commitment once agreeing to volunteer. Failing to show is likely to result in us not being able to accept another request to volunteer.
The Whitechapel Mission began in 1876 and much of our work would never have been possible without the support of thousands of volunteers. Today, volunteers play a crucial role, working with homeless people, providing essential administrative support or raising much-needed funds.
We thank the 5,200 volunteers who have supported the Whitechapel Mission this year with over 36.400 hours.
The Whitechapel Mission breakfast challenge is currently the most popular form of volunteering at Whitechapel. After preparing and cooking breakfast for as many as 300 people, these breakfasts then need to be served. Served to people who are, in the main, very grateful for your efforts and may have not eaten since yesterdays breakfast. A very rewarding experience and an opportunity to meet people from the streets in a positive and meaningful way.
During certain times of the year (especially Harvest and Christmas) we are glad to receive a mountain of non-perishable food, clothing and gifts. These items need to be sorted and stored, ready for distribution. Some will need to be put on shelves, ready for our use. We are looking for teams of people who can sort, check dates and look for damage on donations.
Experience has shown us that there are some homeless people who live a recurring pattern of street sleeping, hostel living and then into a flat, only to start the circle again six months later. Many of these individuals simply do not have the skill set to sustain a tenancy. We hope to break this recurring pattern by introducing the basic life skills required to keep people in a tenancy.
For 14 days during Christmas, as well as at other times of the year, we hand over the work of the Mission to volunteer groups. These groups are made up of no less than 4 and no more than 8 people and they are responsible for ensuring the continued services of the Mission. We supply one member of staff to supervise/assist. The Centre opens at 6am and closes at 11am each day. You will be required to be on-site by 5:45 latest. We do have a car park available for your vehicles.
With the Mission being open every day of the year we struggle to keep the very high standards of cleanliness and hygiene needed in our kitchens. Of course everyday ends with a thorough clean, but it needs more.
On a regular basis we need to strip everything out of the kitchen, leaving just bare walls and ceiling and then to even take them down, clean it all and put it back.
At least 75 people a day use our shower facilities (150 on most days) and each and every one of them is looking for a change of clothing. Many others are trying to build a wardrobe of clothing as they attempt to rebuild their lives. As a result there is a constant need for clothing to be sorted, measured and sized and hung, ready for distribution. This is a task that can be carried out at any time of the day and many volunteers will choose to arrive later in the morning and stay longer.
Although our other challenges are restricted by the times the daycentre is open, the clothing challenge is not.
It maybe that you cannot get a team of more than 5 or that you cannot get your team here for 5:45am. Neither of these reasons will exclude you from volunteering at Whitechapel or prevent you helping us serve breakfast.
It is not unusual for volunteers wanting to donate a couple of hours in the morning before going to work. Many volunteers will arrive in time to finish the cooking of breakfast and maybe serve breakfast for the first hour, before they need to leave to get to work just up the road.
We acknowledges and offer a special thank you to those partners and supporters, who have backed their giving of gifts and volunteering with a donation of £5000 or more each year. It is only with this commitment that our work may continue.
These companies get unlimited and priority access to the volunteers diary months ahead of others organizations.
Volunteering as an individual is a little more difficult, as we have a very full diary and it can sometimes be very difficult to squeeze an individual in.
Individuals wishing to volunteer will always need to be DBS checked, over 18 and be prepared to supply references.
Some simple guidelines to make volunteering at the Whitechapel Mission fun, productive and safe.
With as many as 300 men using our services each day, it can be very intimidating for an individual woman walking through our doors, looking for services.
Having a "Women's Centre" helps solve this problem and this service attracts women of different ages, cultures, needs and social backgrounds.