Fully managed and run by a team of 15 volunteers, mostly retirees, this committed and dedicated group give their time to collect donations of clothes, shoes, toys, baby equipment, stationery, arts and crafts, Judaica and household items from across north London. Like a team of worker bees, they are always out and about collecting and are always happy to chat and tell more to the donors about all the work that the charity does; Jewish heritage work, community building, book translating, the virtual young adult’s network and more. Once collected, they deliver the donations to The Together Plan’s storage facility, now located in Watford, where they sort and sift through every item to make sure everything is graded and packed by category so that when it reaches its destination in Belarus, the distribution there is easy to manage.
The donations are distributed to communities in Belarus, Jewish and non-Jewish, to ghetto survivors, to special needs communities and centres where there is a real need. The aid is of huge value and for some, it is a lifeline. We provide resources to community centres, books to libraries and toys and equipment to schools. Where discarded items here in the UK would have ended up in landfill, our project ensures that they find new life and make a real and positive difference to the lives of other people. It is simply brilliant to see.
This past year, the volunteer team really pulled together throughout the lockdowns. When the doors of our packing and sorting centre in Pinner closed due to COVID, and all we had available was our unheated warehouse in Mill Hill to work out of, the volunteers got out their flasks and thermals, donned their masks and relocated the operation. They worked at the warehouse throughout the winter and in November last year, during the lockdown, a lorry of the sorted and packed donations of aid was loaded. 10 tonnes of aid travelled by road across Europe and reached snowy Minsk where it was unloaded by our volunteer team there. Click here to watch the short video of the loading.
Once the aid had been dispatched to Belarus in November, the UK team, whilst continuing to collect and sort, also worked to prepare for our relocation from Mill Hill to Watford, a mighty task that was managed and carried out with precision. By April we were all boxed up and ready to go and our transition was smooth and seamless.
Without a doubt, this project would not exist without this incredible team and so this month, with restrictions now eased, we took time out to give back to the volunteers and hosted a thank you tea for them at The Together Plan. After days of cold and rain, the sun reappeared for our outdoor garden party. It was just fantastic to be able to bring everyone together after the year we have all had, to socialise, and appreciate all the hard work, and to take a moment to look at how far we have come as a charity and how far the Aid Together project has developed in its own right.
Some of our volunteers came to us through the Jewish Volunteering Network, so we feel it is only right to acknowledge the great work that they do for the Jewish and wider non-Jewish community here too.
Our Aid Together volunteers are a community in their own right. Strong friendships have been forged and they look forward to meeting every week at the ‘Chat & Pack’ sessions where the aid is sorted and everyone gets a chance to catch up on the week’s news. We love it and we love them! Thank you to our volunteers for donating your time and thank you to those of you who donate your discarded items to us – we love you too!
If you are interested in volunteering with us or donating items please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.