It’s National Volunteering Week, which is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering and recognises the vital support that millions of volunteers provide to their communities.
Here in the Eastern Suburbs, there is an inspiring team of mums who volunteer their time to run Bondi Beach Playgroups, a not-for-profit community playgroup operating at 3 venues in the Waverley Council area. The group is supported by Waverley Council with financial grants and venues, but all activities of the group are conducted by volunteers.
The volunteers are all dedicated to creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for families to connect and play. They turn up, with their own children in tow, to open the doors and start the set up of the toys and resources. Each playgroup session welcomes children, parents and other carers, to meet, share and learn through play in an unstructured and supportive community environment.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends and contribute in a positive way to your neighbourhood,” says Bondi Beach Playgroups organiser Tamera Lang. “We couldn’t operate without our dedicated volunteers, and every week I am delighted by the way they build a supportive community of families in Waverley”.
The volunteers are from a variety of cultural backgrounds, hailing from the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, France, New Zealand, UK, and of course Australia. They are all in different family and work situations, with remote work, part time, single parents, travelling partners, solo children and multiple children all represented. The committee also includes volunteers whose children are now at school, and who have stayed on to offer their skills and experience with operational aspects of the group.
“I enjoy good ol’ mum hangs at playgroup really,” says regular Francis St playgroup volunteer Tomo. “Playgroups have been my go-to for the last four years, especially when I had to juggle a toddler and a baby. It is great that I get a chance to give back”.
The playgroup provides a relaxed play space for children, and is also a vital mental boost and social connection for mums and other carers. “It’s great to meet local mums and exchange tips such as good activity classes and shops, and have a good banter. I found myself always bumping into mums I know at parks meaning endless playdates for my kids,” says Tomo.
The love and dedication the volunteers give to playgroup is appreciated by the community. “We love playgroup, it’s such a wonderful thing for my kids and a beautiful community vibe,” says a regular attendee at the Wairoa Avenue playgroup. So far this year, more than 300 families have visited Bondi Beach Playgroups, a mammoth effort for a community service run by volunteer mums. We salute their efforts in bringing this vital support to parents, carers and children in the East!
If you are interested in joining the volunteer team and giving back to the community, please contact email@example.com