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Changes are about to take place to the successful Joining In! project, managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey, that has been supporting community involvement for the past six years.

From the beginning of April, Joining In! co-ordinator David Rose will be working on other projects for VASWS, including the Guildford Time Bank scheme. Although Joining In! will therefore not have a dedicated co-ordinator, it will continue in the following ways.

  1. The Joining In! website www.joiningin.org.uk will remain active and David Rose will update it with new and amended listings, when required.
  2. Copies of the current Joining In! booklets are available from VASWS at 39 Castle Street, Guildford GU1 3QU. Tel: 01483 504626. Email: info@vasws.org.uk Copies are also available from the community wardens based at the Park Barn Centre.
  3. VASWS will continue to support voluntary and community sector organisations listing volunteer opportunities on their behalf on its database. Go to: http://voluntaryactionsws.org.uk/volunteering/we-need-volunteers/
  4. 4. VASWS will help voluntary and community sector organisations with their development including registering as a charity, through to helping established groups review policies and procedures and search for funding. Go to: http://voluntaryactionsws.org.uk/support/

Thank you for all your support and help.

Joining In! co-ordinator David Rose with his self-guided walks leaflets.

Joining In! co-ordinator David Rose with his self-guided walks leaflets.

Joining In! was established by Voluntary Action South West Surrey in 2010, following a series of meetings with the community in the Westborough ward of Guildford, in conjunction with Guildford Borough Council’s community wardens Tracy James and Richard Musgrove.

Among the feedback received was that people were interested to find out more about what activities were available to them locally as they would be interested in taking part.

In 2012 the first Joining In! booklet was produced containing details of where activities were taking place and what opportunities there were for people to volunteer, help out and most of all be part of.

A community litter pick around the Guildford Tesco store (near Ashenden estate) hosted by Joining In! and Guildford Borough Council's community wardens.

A community litter pick around the Guildford Tesco store (near Ashenden estate) hosted by Joining In! and Guildford Borough Council’s community wardens.

VASWS received funding from Surrey County Council’s TravelSmart initiative, and in January 2013 David Rose took up the role of Joining In! co-ordinator. It has also received funding from Guildford Borough Council, The Guildford Poyle Charities and the National Lottery’s Awards for All, enabling the project to expand and continue beyond the original three-year period, (from January 2013).

Soon a second and much enlarged edition of the booklet was published, with around 5,000 copies distributed across Westborough and Park Barn. A website was set up and David began helping groups and organisations, schools, churches, and so on, in the ward to promote their services and in turn encourage residents to get involved and join in.

The Sunrise Gurkha Taekwando Club.

The Sunrise Gurkha Taekwando Club.

Much progress was made engaging with people of all ages including groups such as the Guildford Nepalese Community organisation. The Joining In! Men’s Group was established, filling a gap in the community for a social group for older men. With a focus on local history and nostalgia it continues to grow.

Joining In! has hosted a range of events with the help of the community wardens. These have included countryside clean-ups, litter picks, history and nature walks, fun days (in conjunction with the Park Barn & Westborough Community Association and TravelSmart), talks, and more.

In all of these, many members of the community have not only attended, but have actively taken part in a wide range of volunteer roles.

The Big Wheel - Spring into Action 2015 01 copy

The Big Wheel – Spring into Action event in May 2015.

In May 2015, Joining In! (again with help from the community wardens) hosted The Big Wheel – Spring into Action. It was a free community event with fun and action for all the family. Held on Bannisters Field, off Egerton Road, near Guildford’s Tesco store, the sun shone on the event that focused on cycling, walking, sports, fitness, healthy living and wellbeing. Several hundred people visited on the day.

In total, five editions of the Joining In! booklet for the Westborough ward have been published. In 2015 Joining In! was established in the Stoke ward of Guildford covering Bellfields and Slyfield, with Helen Linnell of VASWS as co-ordinator.

Two editions of booklets listing activities, things to do and services in that area have been published. The second booklet covers Stoughton as well. While a booklet covering Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham was also published in 2015; and Joining In! has hosted the Ash Forum to which local services and people from the community have come together to network.

The Rhythm of Life Community Choir.

The Rhythm of Life Community Choir.

Joining In! has assisted and given help and advice to many groups and organisations and individuals. These range from actively attending meetings (an example being the Park Barn & Westborough Community Association), helping in the planning and running of events (such as the Stoke Community Fun Day), the regular running of groups (such as the extremely successful Park Barn-based Rhythm of Life Community Choir), and helping set up regular volunteering opportunities (working with the halow charity being one example).

Stoke Community Fun Day 2016.

Stoke Community Fun Day 2016.

In 2016, David compiled three free self-guided walk leaflets covering the Westborough / Park Barn area, focusing on local history and natural history. Many copies were printed and distributed. Copies are available from the VASWS office in Castle Street, and from the community wardens based at the Park Barn Centre.

Garden tidy up in Park Barn with halow charity volunteers.

Garden tidy up in Park Barn with halow charity volunteers.

Early in 2018, David linked up with GLADE (Guildford Learning and Development Enterprise), Kings College and the halow charity, which saw them help relay a path on the Westborough Fitness Trail with new wood chips.

Joining In! is all about taking part and if you wish volunteer your services and time.

Joining In! is all about taking part, and if you wish volunteer your services and time.

The next project taking in place in March will see Kings’ pupils, in conjunction with GLADE, make nesting boxes that will be later be placed in Westborough Woods. Former Surrey Wildlife Trust ranger for the area, Mark Havler, now engaged with some community work with the University of Surrey, will be assisting.

This is another example of how the Joining In! project has, on many occasions, worked by bringing together local groups, services providers, and residents to make much-needed improvements for the communities in which it has been active.