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Durham University

Staff Volunteering and Outreach

Our Community Partners

General Outdoor Volunteering

Below is some information about a selection of our community partners who we work with on a regular basis, mainly for Team Challenges. If you, or your department would like to work with any of these organisations please get in touch. If you wish to register to become a community partner please complete this form or email us for more information.

Friends of Old Durham Gardens

Old Durham Gardens are situated less than a mile east of Durham City Centre and provide a unique public space to be enjoyed by all. Acquired in 1985, the gardens were derelict and so a council-led renovation project began, aimed at returning the gardens to their former beauty. The Friends of Old Durham Gardens was established in 2010, providing the council with the direct, voluntary public support necessary to maintain the gardens fully. The organisation also hopes to provide educational opportunities for schools and other local groups. More information can be found on Friends of Old Durham Gardens' website.


Groundwork NE & Cumbria

Groundwork in Durham is a branch of Groundwork North East, an organisation committed to providing a society made up of sustainable communities which are vibrant, healthy and safe. These communities also respect the local and global environment, allowing individuals and enterprises to flourish. Groundwork in Durham works with hundreds of individual projects each year, but primarily in disadvantaged communities in which the organisation can make the biggest impact on resident’s lives. Projects include gardening schemes, Otter Holt construction and community play sessions. More information can be found on Groundwork In Durham's website.

Cultivate 4 Life

This is an exciting project based on allotments, which helps disadvantaged people from the area develop personal and career skills through horticultural work. There is always work to do on site ranging from planting and potting and other practical tasks, to administration work. Smaller teams would work best here, and there will be more information regarding specific opportunities to follow.

Durham Wildlife Trust

Durham Wildlife Trust protects wildlife and promotes nature conservation not only in County Durham, but also in the City of Sunderland and the Boroughs of Gateshead, South Tyneside and Darlington. The Trust manages nature reserves, delivers conservation projects to protect the region’s wildlife, and provides education and volunteering opportunities for thousands of children and adults every year. Durham Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies entirely on the generosity of the public to help protect wildlife for the future, making the support of volunteers crucial to the trust’s work. More information can be found on Durham Wildlife Trust's website.

Friends of Stockton Road Cemetery

Located just opposite the Palatine Centre, the 19th Century cemetery is now a haven for wildlife and the plan is to enhance habitats and the general appearance of the site over time. Team Challenges in the past have focused on clearing the overgrown paths and sorting out logs to create more wildlife habitats in line with their Conservation Management Plan. This site is very conveniently located close to the University for full or half day's work as a Team Challenge, but there is also an open volunteer session on Wednesday afternoons for anyone interested.

LionMouth Rural Centre

This site has been utilised by a number of University groups including HR’s Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) groups. It is an excellent venue due to its proximity to Durham, range of activities and size of site. There are opportunities to tailor activities to the groups’ needs due to this diversity. Tasks available include gardening and garden maintenance, potting, potential animal husbandry, arts, fencing and outdoor furniture construction and some other indoor building maintenance activities.

General Indoor Volunteering

Waddington Street Centre

The Waddington Street Centre offers support and opportunities to local people experiencing mental health problems. The centre provides a wide range of quality services, such as educational courses, within a welcoming environment. Waddington Street Centre is an accredited learning centre, understanding that education is an essential factor in recovery and personal development for service users. Working in partnership with New College Durham, courses currently offered at the centre range from art and design, guitar workshops, pottery, relaxation workshops, reading groups and stress busting classes. More information can be found on Waddington Street Centre's website.

If U Care Share

Inspired by the shocking story of 19 year old Daniel O’Hare, a teenager who without any warning took his own life, If U Care Share is a charity aimed at the prevention, intervention and support for those bereaved by suicide. Alarmingly, suicide is the second biggest killer of young people in the UK. The charity therefore works with schools, football academies and other suicide prevention groups in order achieve their aim of reducing the risk of suicide amongst young people. More information can be found on If U Care Share's website

Changing Lives

Changing Lives (formerly The Cyrenians) is a charity that works with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. The charity works holistically, combining all the appropriate support and services needed by different individuals. The charity’s ethos is to make a lasting, positive change to the lives of disadvantaged people by providing access to training, education, employment, and where necessary, emergency care and intervention. The charity also helps those suffering from substance abuse, as well as those who may be isolated and longing to form new friendships. More information can be found on the Changing Lives Website. Volunteer tasks are wide ranging, from working with the clients to prepare meals, to decorating residential sites and much more.

Willowburn Hospice

With an ethos of Care, Comfort and Compassion, Willow Burn Hospice offers palliative care for adults who have a life limiting illness. The hospice offers round-the-clock care, as well as day care. The hospice also offers patients a counselling and advice service, with bereaved families, carers and partners of Willow Burn patients able to access similar services. Willow Burn also provides a ‘Hospice at Home’ service, as well as physiotherapy, and other complimentary therapy services such as acupuncture. More information can be found on Willowburn Hospice's website.

Trussell Trust Foodbanks

Regional Foodbanks, such as the distribution centre in Chester-le-Street always need help from volunteers to sort and arrange donations, pack orders, and put together emergency food boxes. Teams have greatly enjoyed this kind of work, which lends itself to small teams and is not weather reliant (although warehouses can still be cold in winter).

Animal Welfare

The Dog’s Trust

Dogs Trust was founded in 1891 and is the largest dog welfare charity currently operating in the UK. The charity’s mission is to eliminate the unnecessary destruction of dogs and it campaigns to achieve this aim in a number of ways. The charity never destroys a healthy dog; instead its 18 nationwide rehoming centres find new homes for 16,000 dogs each year. The charity also runs public education initiatives, teaching how to be a responsible dog owner. The Trust has also develped FREEDOM and HOPE projects, assisting dogs in the care of homeless people or individuals fleeing domestic violence, to access the necessary care they require. More information can be found on The Dog's Trust website.

Professional and Skills Volunteering

County Durham Community Foundation

County Durham Community Foundation provides grants that make a genuine difference to the lives of local people. The foundation manages charitable funds donated by local individuals, families, businesses and trusts, building up a source of long-term support for the community and acting as the vital link between donors and local needs, enabling people to achieve far more than they could by themselves. The charity is dedicated to helping communities grow by creating opportunities and tackling issues of disadvantage and exclusion. The foundation works with a wide range of people including families, individuals, trusts, public bodies and local authorities. More information can be found on County Durham Community Foundation's website.


St Cuthbert's Hospice

Locally based, St. Cuthbert’s are a charity with whom we are developing our links further. Tasks are wide ranging, for example, two teams on an ILM course worked with them to develop marketing and business plans and other teams have helped create Christmas decorations. The hospice also has a range of practical needs from gardening to donation sorting as well as the more intellectual type tasks mentioned earlier. 

Carers Trust Tyne & Wear

Carers Trust Tyne & Wear are a leading local provider of quality support services for young carers, the people they support, and their families. They work with over 900 families in the Gateshead area, helping Carers to make a life of their own outside their caring responsibilities. Their facility in Gateshead includes a residential home which is available for respite for carers to have a break from their caring commitments. Various University teams have volunteered there, helping to decorate the house, manage the garden and also carry out indoor resource pack assembly activities

RT Projects

Local charity based in Gilesgate who promote arts for mental health, have recently hosted a group of Postgraduate students for an ‘experience’ session, followed by some volunteering to finish off odd jobs that the charity needed doing. This is a truly unique experience, and very locally based, with a number of jobs such as painting, organisational and administration work and handyman jobs, that would suit a wide variety of skills.

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain work with children with autism and their families to provide the support they need to live full lives. Opportunities range from outdoor work on their five acre site which includes a
small farm and sensory garden to help at one off events. They are a new partner, who we are looking to develop links with over the next few months