skip to main content

Walking and Cycling Grants London blog

Jul,2018 Wheely Tots test
The value of volunteers for Wheely Tots

Wheely Tots is a registered children’s charity that believes all children should be healthy, confident and resilient. We make this possible by providing inclusive, friendly and rewarding family-oriented events and sessions. We specialise in parent and toddler balance bike sessions for children aged 14 months and upwards, and provide tools, support and help for the whole family.

We operate in and around Woodberry Down, one of the most diverse, disadvantaged and brilliant parts of London. What we do isn’t easy, but we say that it’s just like learning to ride a bike!

Each year we have volunteers who help us. Our volunteer programme focusses on recruiting short-term volunteers, as we’ve found that this works really well for Wheely Tots. We get great ideas from our volunteers and are proud to help them in return.

For example, in 2017, Lilly was looking to get back into work and came to volunteer with us. Lilly was amazing and ended up running sessions for toddlers before she obtained a new job running after-school clubs at a local primary school.

Lilly said: “Looking back, helping with Wheely Tots was the right thing I needed at the right time, and I’m really appreciative of their patience and help. Plus running the parent and toddler balance bike sessions was great fun.”

Our partners at the Manor House Development Trust recently referred Mila to volunteer with us. Mila spent the last nine years bringing up her family and is now looking to get back into work and feel more confident. We accepted Mila onto our four-week volunteering programme, where she helps Earlyna run toddler sessions on Thursday mornings in Finsbury Park.  In return we have referred Mila to a CV-building workshop and have promised to give her interview practice and a reference that she can use at upcoming interviews.

Mila said: “I wanted to volunteer with Wheely Tots because I always liked the idea of working with children. It also allows me to get closer to the community and meet new people. On the most basic level, it’s nice to feel I’ve achieved something positive with my day, as well as being exposed to opportunities to learn something new".  

If you’re thinking of working with volunteers, then getting to know how you can help them is a real ‘must’. We see the relationship between a volunteer and a host organisation as an equal one. Secondly, it is a good idea to discuss how the volunteering will end and be upfront about this, so expectations are properly managed.

This year we are (finally) recruiting for a volunteer coordinator and looking forward to making even more new friends! We also have a unique ‘family cycling showroom’ coming online later this summer, which will give volunteers plenty of opportunities to try out new skills.

None of the above would have been possible without funding and help from Transport for London and Groundwork London through Cycling Grants London, which over the years, has really helped us grow as an organisation and get the hang of marketing our opportunities better, learning how to budget and more recently, funding our Easter Project.