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The Volunteer of the year Awards  organised by Voluntary Action Islington  took place on Wednesday 2nd November and it was a wonderful night out for staff and volunteers at Centre 404. We put nominations forward for each category and felt we had some strong contenders who have shown a wonderful amount of commitment and passion to volunteering with Centre 404 this year.

The categories for the evening were:

Young Volunteer of the Year: 16 – 25 year olds:

Volunteer of the Year: 26 – 60 year olds

Older Volunteer of the Year: 60+ year olds

Pat Haynes Memorial Trustee of the Year

Volunteering Team of the Year

It was a full house at Voluntary Action Islington with over a hundred people attending. 14 of us went to the awards from Centre 404, consisting of volunteers and staff and were warmly welcomed with sandwiches, drinks and cake.

As it was Voluntary Action Islington’s AGM as well as the awards we sat down to listen to the latest news from the organisation and were also treated to a magic show!

Alex Smith, founder of North London Cares, gave an inspirational talk about how and why he set up the charity as well as its sister charity South London Cares and the impact the charities have made on tackling social isolation in the community.  It is a wonderful charity that works with connecting young professionals living and working in London with their elderly neighbours through social clubs and a love your neighbour programme.

After Alex’s talk it was time for the awards ceremony. The team of the year was the first one announced and Centre 404’s gardening group were the winner!  All of our gardening group apart from Debbie were able to attend and were super excited to have won! We all went up to collect our certificate and were super thrilled to learn that we had won a three course meal, sponsored by Doubletree by Hilton,  at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant so we will look forward to that! Read the rest of this entry »

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On Sunday 30th October we held our Annual Halloween party for the families we support. We were delighted that DoubleTree hotel in Islington agreed to host the event for us, and provided volunteers, decorations and food on the day.

The venue was wonderful, with lots of space for the children and young people to play in and take full advantage of the food and treats that were on offer! There was facepainting, with a variety of designs requested- from spiderman to a Frankenstein vampire. Children came in fancy dress and a competition was held to judge the best costume, and families were treated to a buffet lunch. Read the rest of this entry »

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gardening-group  It may be getting colder and darker but that hasn’t stopped our volunteer gardeners coming each Thursday to help with tidying up the garden, mowing the lawn, sweeping the leaves and still doing some planting. We thought we would have to put the compost bag away until spring however there are still certain plants and herbs that can be planted in autumn time. This Thursday saw us plant some broad beans, garlic, red onions and tulips.

We took some useful tips from James Wong’s guardian article on ways to boost our garlic where we learnt that we needed to ‘Pick the sunniest spot  and plant individual cloves 15cm apart any time between now and late January, and water in well. Scattering a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts over each square metre of planting bed can up the strength of your garlic.’

As it is the week before Halloween we also thought it would be the perfect time to have some pumpkin pie! Pumpkins are great fun to grow. They are easy to cultivate, but need a sunny position, plenty of water and shelter from cold winds. Once harvested, pumpkins can be used for delicious soup, pies and for roasting. Read the rest of this entry »

Emilious  has been volunteering with Centre 404 since October 2014. He is a regular volunteer at our Friday Night Social and has just begun volunteering with our Thursday gardening group.

Here Emilious shares his experiences of volunteering with our charity:

emilious

I have been volunteering with Centre 404 for two years. I help out at the Friday Night Social which is a disco for people with learning difficulties and allows them to have some fun.

My role is being at the door or I collect people off the bus. I like being at the tuck shop, making people dance and being in the games room. I enjoy getting people up to dance and giving them water when they need it. I get to see my friends, Paolo, Kelly and Liz at the disco and everyone else.

Good upbeat tunes are played at the disco and we sell drinks, chocolate, crisps and other stuff.

I enjoyed the first time at the gardening group because I saw my friends and joined in with the task. We also cleaned up Centre 404 using the shovel, picking up leaves and rubbish, and then at the end of the day we had tea, cake and biscuits.

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Centre 404 was set up by volunteers and family carers in 1951. We are lucky enough to still have lots of people helping us who want to give something back to their local community.  

If you’d like to join them by volunteering at Centre 404 please download our Volunteer Joining Form. Once complete, please send it to volunteer@centre404.org.uk or Centre 404, 404 Camden Road, London, N7 0SJ.

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On 18th September, Mark, our regular Friday Night Social Volunteer, took part in the London Duathlon which involved a 10km run, followed by a 44km bike followed by a 5k run.

The event took place around Richmond Park and the average time for completing the event was three hours. It was definitely a mean feat of a challenge to take part in and we were in awe of Mark taking this on (completing it in 2 hours 36 minutes) but over the moon to learn that he had created a fundraising page for the event, with Centre 404 being his charity of choice to donate money to.
mark-volunteerduathalon-fundraiserMark said: “I chose to raise money for Centre 404 as a proud Friday Night Social volunteer. Seeing everyone at the disco always brightens my week and I wanted to be able to do something meaningful to help the centre out.

The Duathlon itself was great fun, but definitely the hardest thing I’ve done sporting wise. As a rugby player I’m not used to long distance sports, the cramps were real! But so glad I did it and I’m planning on a triathlon next summer.”

Mark’s target was to raise £200, however our last visit to his page has shown that not only has he surpassed this target but he has raised more than double the amount!

If you would like to donate to Mark for this wonderful event, please follow this link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Briant1

Thank you to all our volunteers and fundraisers! We truly appreciate the time and commitment you give to Centre 404!

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ashpotato   debbie The leaves are starting to fall and the nights are slowly crawling in as we are moving into autumn but thankfully the weather has still been warm enough to continue with our garden sessions. In fact we have been extremely lucky with the weather this summer and have accomplished so much in our garden.  We have filled it with daffodils, sunflowers, broad beans, delicious sweet tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb and we have sat down together and eaten the produce, with a cup of tea of course.

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We were incredibly fortunate to have Chris from The Royal Horticultural Society attend Centre 404 & Anson Road to help us with sowing seeds and planting herbs as well as share his fountain of knowledge about gardening with us. We received £500 from The Royal Horticultural Society in addition to 6 visits from Chris, which our volunteers thoroughly enjoyed.

We have also been treated each month by Elsa, one of our garden volunteers, who bakes a cake for the group each time shes visits and lets us guess what ingredients she has used. It is different every month and in the past few months, we have sampled lavender, rose, apple, orange, lemon, almond, just to name a few!

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At Centre 404 we are very proud of our garden and are so grateful to our volunteers who attend every Thursday between 2p.m and 4p.m. Our volunteers not only enjoy coming to help with the garden but it gives them a chance to meet up with each other weekly and socialise. Ashley one of our long standing volunteers said, “I enjoy coming because it gets me away from just staying indoors and watching television every day. I get bored if I just do that. I feel I am doing something worthwhile here and look forward to it and seeing my friends.”

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The weather may be getting colder but we will continue working on our garden over the next couple of months. It’s time for harvesting vegetables so look out for lots of soup being made in the Centre 404 kitchen!

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If you are interested in becoming a garden volunteer or in any volunteering opportunities with Centre 404, get in touch at volunteer@centre404.org.uk or call 0207 607 8762

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Now that the weather has finally started to reflect the early openings of Spring, our gardeners were feeling much more eager to stick their wellies on and get productive in the garden this week. Although still a fair bit chilly, the sun beaming down was enough incentive to get outdoors rather than stay inside.

Ashley and Ian got busy with planting some rhubarb whilst Debbie planted some beetroot and summer flowers. We also came across some forget me nots’ which hold such a lovely idea in planting seeds for a loved one.

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As Easter was just around the corner, Elsa made a delicious Simnel cake using Mary berry’s recipe. It was so delicious most of us couldn’t resist a second piece!

Here is the recipe if you would like to try making this at home: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mary_berrys_simnel_cake_49483

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The garden is definitely looking more colourful with the daffodils starting to bloom, however we still have a lot to do before the AGM party in July. This is a special event as not only is it a chance to showcase our annual review but we will be celebrating our 65th anniversary!

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Stay tuned with our gardening progress on our blog and if you fancy yourself a budding gardener, do not hesitate to get in touch and volunteer with us. http://www.centre404.org.uk/volunteer