Volunteering for a Year

Interested in doing something different — something you’ll never forget or regret?

We can offer board and lodging, pocket money and a very fulfilling time if you can offer a year of your time and a willingness to help. Download an Application Form and mail to volunteering@pennine.ac.uk.

Please read on:

A Co-workers’ Introduction

Building a path

Many people come to join us for a year as Volunteer Co-workers. It takes that time to be able to take everything in and then to give something back (that’s the rewarding bit).

Due to the vulnerability of our student group we need to carefully vet potential volunteers. Two references and a police check are the minimum and we may ask for more — please don’t be offended as this is part of the current legislation.

An Overview

Boyne Hill House

There are approximately 30 co-workers and their families here at any one time. There’s always a strong international element with co-workers coming from many different countries — the European Union and beyond. About a third of the co-workers live at the Pennine on a permanent basis and half have come for a year or more to help. We have five separate houses where the co-workers and students live alongside each other and share in all the household duties. There are no separate staff rooms apart from your own room. Co-workers and students eat their meals together in the houses. Some will have helped with growing the produce, cooking the meal or perhaps laying the tables. Meal times can become a focus of social contact, conversation and appreciation of what each one has to offer.

Day to Day Work

Working alongside each other is an important basis of much of our work. We try to make the day to day running of the house communities and the care of the land and grounds part of everyone’s responsibility and involvement. Most new co-workers will have a group of 3 to 4 students in their house with whom they will relate more closely. With the help of a more experienced co-worker they will help encourage their group over matters of personal hygiene, care of their possessions, interests and friendly advice. A mixture of tact, sensitivity and humour are three keys to help.

Building the hen house

The college day is divided into 4 main sessions. Co-workers normally work 3 of them with the fourth being their free time. Each session is about an hour and a half long and co-workers are attached to the different activities on a regular basis. Everyone has one day off a week, usually a weekday. Personal preferences and experiences are obviously taken into account when arranging a timetable, but an underlying strength of the co-worker group is the wish to serve the needs of those we care for and the environment.

Working at the Pennine is more a way of life, and living with and sharing in interests with the students often blurs what is free time and what is work. It is a common wish that we live in a community where everyone works towards a common aim, to help each other’s potential and awaken a sense of responsibility and interest in the world and for each other. We hold a weekly Sunday Gathering and say a morning and evening verse. We hope that those who hold different persuasions can also share in our attempt to create meaning and value in these areas.

What is expected of you

You will be asked to involve yourself with our students with special needs aged 16–25, on all levels, e.g. getting them up, helping with their personal care, helping them during the day and at bed time and, and either helping and support teaching in one of the work areas or craft workshops, in the classroom or on the land. Your accommodation will be in one of our houses and you will be required to help with household duties after mealtimes and in the evenings.

Students and Volunteer Co-worker working in the garden

At the weekends, your support and initiative will be needed in taking students out and providing activities for and with them.

The fully residential nature of work makes considerable demands upon the time and energy of all co-workers, but this compensated by the richness and value of experience to be gained while living in a community, which strives to serve social, economic and spiritual ideals. Everyone takes one day off per week and there are holidays for you to travel or visit home. We have 2 longer holidays at Christmas and Easter (approximately 3 weeks) and there are shorter holidays in October, February and June.

The Pennine Community provides training for those who come to work here. It is called the Induction Course and it takes a three-fold approach based on theory, practical work and art. The subject matter is covered in two formal teaching sessions per week, during house meetings and when celebrating festivals. Every year a large group of volunteers comes from all over the world. Each year special friendships develop and you will have a chance to get to know people from different countries, and to have an interesting and valuable experience.

We welcome any artistic gifts, especially musical, and would like to hear if you play an instrument!

Student in the basket workshop

We ask you to read through the following carefully and consider whether you aspire to these qualities. If necessary read through this with a friend who understands English and knows you. Our intention is to help you understand what is needed here and be helpful in your decision to join us.

Typically co-workers who gain the most from their experience here show the following qualities:

  • have a positive attitude to life and are enthusiastic
  • are sociable and take human interest in others
  • are able to self-reflect and learn from misunderstandings
  • are flexible and adaptable to change
  • are able to support Christian festivals
  • are able to take feedback positively
  • are able to accept that they do not initiate at management level in their first year with us
  • are able to work as part of a team
  • can put the interest of others before their own interest

The following should also be considered — do not come if you:

  • are only self-motivated, e.g. wish to come to Britain purely to learn the language
  • are not sociable
  • are not interested in the project
  • want a standard ‘job’ with precise hours on and off
  • you cannot take direction well and work as part of a team
  • you are inflexible and afraid of change

Our intention is to help you gain a full picture of our life here. We have a lot of fun together. We are an enthusiastic community and our students are truly delightful people. Some may be challenging, but all are courageous and often very moving friendships occur. It is particularly satisfying and heart warming to witness community members developing pride and an interest in others and to observe the unfolding of hidden potential.

Young people joining us as Volunteer Co-workers are invaluable to our work by bringing different cultures together, befriending each other and community members. We recognise that the contribution made by voluntary service is unique and a true gesture of brotherhood towards our fellow man. This in itself brings true healing to each individual and the world.

Support

Life is pretty busy but there is always someone to turn to if you have any concerns. This will usually be a more experienced co-worker living in your house. We have several different meetings where you will be able to share concerns.

Practicalities

Path past the garden shed

Apart from the obvious, you need to bring clothes suitable for outdoor work or craftwork. We can provide overalls. You’ll also need clothes suitable for concerts and outings, and swimwear. Most people bring an i-pod or MP3 player, and an alarm clock is useful too. We provide bedding and towels etc. Please don’t bring alcoholic drinks. Due to the nature of our work, we aim to keep these off the premises or very discrete.

We will help with any immediate dental or medical treatments and registration costs for non European Community passport holders. You will be registered in our local doctors’ surgery and will have free health cover whilst with us. You are expected to pay for any phone calls apart from a first call home to say you have arrived. You will be responsible for paying for your own air fare to travel home at the end of the year.

We hope that co-workers will be able to stay for the time that they have committed themselves to, but we do realise that this work, although deeply rewarding, can at times be very demanding and might not appeal to all. In such circumstances we shall try to provide the support to go through these times or free the individual from the original commitment.

Who else comes to Pennine as a Co-worker?

Come and see! If you don't live too far away, come and visit or stay a short while. We usually have a mixture of nationalities and that is important to us as part of our belief is the respect and appreciation of each and every person whatever their nationality or ability. Obviously, a good understanding of English is essential to be able to help the students. Co-workers often join us as a gap year or as part of an alternative to military service; others join us as they wish to work in the field of special education or in medicine.

Applications

A student's painting

Before you apply, please make sure that you look at the rest of the website, so that you know as much as possible about Pennine Community. The sections about the College and Community are especially relevant. 

The college year runs from the end of August to the end of July, and we accept applications for an academic year from January onwards. Places are on a first come first served basis, so if you wish to join us please make sure that you apply in good time.

Please contact us first to see if we have vacancies. It’s best if you could write a little about your interests, why you would like to work at Pennine etc. Please ask questions if you think we have left anything out here. You do need to complete an application form, provide references and a police check. We will only accept fully completed application forms. If we don't have vacancies it might be possible to put you in contact with other Camphill centres.

Download an Application Form (10kb) in Adobe Acrobat format and mail to volunteering@pennine.ac.uk.

This link is to a ‘pdf’ document and you will need ‘Adobe Reader’ to be able to read it. If you don't have this installed on your computer you can find it here at Adobe’s website and download it.

For details of how to get to Pennine, click here.