62-year-old’s community food shop in high demand

After hearing about the number of people in her area who were going hungry, 62-year-old Carole Jones launched the Vale Pantry in 2020, a community food shop in North Dorset, which is a twist on the traditional food bank.

Members pay £6 to secure a regular, weekly shop including fresh and frozen food, the basic staples, fresh meat, fish and eggs plus tinned foods and cereal. The Vale Pantry aims to help tackle food poverty in North Dorset and its services have already been used by thousands in her local area and helped over 160 families get back to full independence. 

“After setting up and running the local Covid response team, I saw the extent of food insecurity and realised that food poverty is hidden from most of society,” Carole tells Smiley News, reflecting on setting up the pantry. “Seeing this, I decided to set up and open the Vale Pantry in order to start taking action as soon as lockdown lifted.”

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“People can self-refer themselves to our initiative, where we then check their eligibility and if they meet the criteria, we accept them as ‘members’,” explains Carole.

“Thereafter, the individuals can come once a week with a small donation to choose all the food items they would like. Unlike a traditional food bank, our offerings allow the individual to choose the items they require including fresh fruit, veg, meat, fish, dairy along with other family staples and range of household foods and personal care items.”

The pantry is funded by Carole applying for grants, fundraising, and sent out letters to individuals. The demand for the services has increased this winter, says Carole. “It’s the busiest we’ve ever been, to the point we may unfortunately have to start a waiting list for new members.”

Thankfully, she has support from a UK charity, In Kind Direct, which distributes new donated usable consumer goods from manufacturers and retailers to British charities. 

“We receive items such as washing powder, shower gels, cleaning products, nappies and period products which we can then distribute to help people in our local community,” says Carole. “The charity offers an easy, cost-effective solution to product giving which helps our restricted funds go even further.”

But there is always the need for more support. “If you work for a company which sells items such as the ones mentioned, please urge them to contact In Kind Direct to make a donation,” says Carole. “These products will then be distributed to charitable organisations like mine so we can continue to support more people in hardship this winter.”

Find out more about the Vale Pantry on its website



Celebs unite to help sick and injured pets

As a pet, you don’t choose the circumstances in which you come into the world. You don’t choose the environment in which you live, or how your life pans out. And for too many pets, that means a life where they end up unhappy, poorly treated, sick, injured, or even homeless.

To help change the fate of as many vulnerable pets as possible this Christmas, pet charity Blue Cross has today launched a celebrity video as part of its annual Christmas Appeal, which calls on the animal-loving public to make a donation, and in turn give these pets the happy, healthy lives they deserve.

To officially mark the launch of the campaign, the charity has teamed up with five celebrities – broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle, television presenter Anna Richardson, Strictly Come Dancing star Karen Hauer, and actresses Emma Barton and Emily Head – to create a special, festive video compilation called A Christmas Tail.

[Read more stories about Christmas cheer on Smiley Movement]

Within the video, these famous faces recite Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, but with some ‘furry’ unexpected character twists that build on the iconic message of encouraging people to take fate into their own hands – as a pet’s past needn’t be their future.

By coming together at Christmas to support Blue Cross, everyone can change the path unfairly treated pets take in life, so they can find the lifelong happiness they deserve. In turn, they’ll bring us untold joy and companionship.

Valuable donations made to the Blue Cross Christmas Appeal, no matter how small, will go towards changing the fate of vulnerable and mistreated pets across the country, so they’re safe and loved for the rest of their days.

Chris Burghes, CEO at Blue Cross, says: “Too many pets end up poorly treated, sick, injured or even homeless. A donation to Blue Cross can change the path a vulnerable pet takes in life. Together, we can change the fate of more vulnerable pets and give them the happy, healthy life they deserve.”

Ben Fogle says: “It’s no secret that I’m passionate about the welfare of animals, which is why it breaks my heart that so many pets are vulnerable and in need of support this Christmas.

“I hope this special version of A Christmas Carol encourages everyone to open their hearts to our four-legged friends, and inspires them make a donation, if they can.”

Support sick and injured animals through the charity’s website,


6 successful crowdfunding projects from 2021

Lots of people in our world have good ideas of how we can better protect the people and our planet – but not everyone has the funds to pull them off.

That’s why crowdfunding is such an important tool. It gives people the opportunity to drive forward their visions, and try to solve the world’s problems by providing the goods and services we need.

Throughout 2021, we’ve been highlighting brilliant crowdfunding projects that give back. Here are six of the best – all have been made possible thanks to people donating their money to make them happen. 

The zero-waste bracelet that creates change in the Amazon

The Yawanawá are an indigenous community who have lived in the heart of the Amazon rainforest for hundreds of years. The forest provides them with medicine, shelter and the resources to live. To support them, the Together Band has partnered with the community of the Yawa to launch a crowdfunding project for ‘Yawa Bands to be a symbol of hope for the forest. 

Together Band is part of the British sustainable brand BOTTLETOP, co-founded by Cameron Saul and Oliver Wayman, and driven by COO Jon Lee. The project aims to create long-term artisanal employment for the Yawanawá community at the heart of the Amazon rainforest and in doing so, support the community in their continued stewardship of 250,000 hectares of Brazilian rainforest.

Read the full story. 

The wind turbine that fits in your backpack

Shine Turbine is a wind turbine that fits in your backpack. It weighs just three pounds, can be set up in two minutes and has been created by entrepreneurs to help us live in a world where clean energy is prioritised. Designed and manufactured in Canada, the team managed to secure their funding for the project through an impressive Kickstarter campaign. “Our mission is to provide clean energy independence,” they say. “Shine is the first of a series of renewable power products created by Aurea Technologies Inc. that will provide freedom from the electrical grid.”

Read the full story.

The smart bottle that cleans the oceans

If you found out you could save the ocean just by drinking water out of a bottle you’d want to know more, wouldn’t you? Nick Doman, 27, and Will Pearson, 27, from London created just that with Ocean Bottle – that directly funds the collection of 1,000 ocean-bound plastic bottles in weight. Locals in coastal communities then turn these bottles into a sustainable livelihood.

The founders then went even further to produce BOB: a Big Ocean Bottle, which is a 1 litre version of the original. Their Kickstarter campaign aimed to help them achieve this goal.

Read the full story.

The debit card that helps the planet every time you spend

Your debit card in your wallet could make a difference in the fight against climate change – that’s if you have an ekko card. Oli Cook, 35, from London, has crowdfunded for his project, which – in simple terms – means by using an ekko card, you’ll be collecting one ocean-bound plastic bottle for every five transactions, regardless of the amount spent. A tree will also be planted with every 50 purchases and cared for up to five years, he says.

Read the full story.

The ‘mini laundrettes’ being creates in schools

Smol’s idea is to create “mini-launderettes” in schools that need them – they want to provide a washing machine and dryer and all the detergent they need to ensure no child in their care has to suffer from the consequences of not having clean clothes or uniforms. The company recently set up its very first washing machine in a primary school in Blackpool, and it’s already having a big impact. Smol smashed its £10,000 target in just three hours and burst through £25,000 in just 25 hours. 

Read the full story.

The wildlife device that conserves nature

Terra is hoping to revolutionise the way we connect to and conserve nature by creating one of the “largest community science projects” of all time. The small, weatherproof device can be placed in your garden, and contains a set of microphones as well as a radio receiver for radio-tagged birds.

By using the app, you can connect Terra to your phone or bluetooth speakers and listen to the world outside your windows. And you can also learn about the birds and wildlife in your garden through the app, even when you’re not listening. Or, you can listen live to wild places like waterfalls, oceans, rainforests and savannahs – wherever you are. 

Read the full story.

If you, or someone you know, has launched a crowdfunding social enterprise project, email [email protected].


21 inspirational individuals from 2021

It’s part of our mission and our very DNA to shout out about people who are giving back to others in the world – whether they are sparing their free time to support those less fortunate, or putting smiles on the faces of people going through tough times.

And then there are also those who dedicate their life and work to protecting our planet and committing to a more sustainable future. 

We’ve interviewed countless inspirational individuals over the past year – here’s a list of some standout people who deserve that recognition.

1. The 91-year-old fundraiser who won’t stop raising money

Retired engineer and civil servant, 91-year-old Peter Robinson left work over two decades ago. But one job he didn’t give up so easily was his voluntary position at Christian Aid. Most recently, after the pandemic started in 2020, he was inspired by Captain Tom Moore to walk 220 times around his independent living complex for Christian Aid. 

Read his story.

2. The couple who competed in all 96 Olympic sports in 17 days

Charlotte Nichols and Stuart Bates, who both live in Abingdon, Oxford, were inspired to do the challenge in memory of Stuart’s brother, Spencer. 10 years ago, Stuart lost his brother to motor neurone disease. “We wanted to do something big to mark this anniversary in a positive way and to carry on Spenny’s legacy of fundraising for the motor neurone disease association,” said Stuart. 

Read their story.

3. The woman who toured in an ice cream van to help the nation talk about grief

Annie Nicholson – a.k.a the Fandangoe Kid – dished out ice cream while having conversations about grief during Covid. Her colourful mobile installation – dubbed The Fandangoe Whip – aimed to encourage people to chat by using the comforting and familiar icon of an ice-cream van to open conversations about our collective mental health. 

Read her story.

4. This 7-year-old litter picking hero

A seven-year-old who is passionate about looking after our planet takes it upon himself to clear up the mess left behind by others. George Goode, from Norwich, is often seen out in his local area collecting litter from the streets and green areas. 

Read his story.

5. Sky Brown became the youngest ever GB Olympic medallist

Sky Brown made history by becoming Great Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medallist. Having only turned 13 in 2021, Sky managed to finish third in the women’s skateboarding final. “This is incredible, it feels unreal,” she said, after the win. “I’m so happy to be here. I’m blessed.”

Read the full story.

6. The man who climbed 5 mountains in 5 countries in 3 days

Des Lally, 46, from Brecon, did the trek to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Help for Heroes. He was joined by a four-strong support team in a van as he travelled more than 1,900 miles, as well as trekking up more than three miles of mountains – much of it in the dark.

Read his full story.

7. Elena Brook-Hart Rodriguez whose fashion brand helps women in Peru

Elena’s brainchild – Handmade Stories, is quality clothing that improves the lives of the people who make it and keeps traditional practices alive – launched in April 2021. Not only is the clothing sustainable, but it provides work for women who need it most. 

Read her story.

8. Joseph Masembe, a climate educator in Uganda

Joseph launched a festival for children in his country, and then, the following year, decided to give the children a project called Little Hands Go Green. Each child received a tree to plant that they could see germinate and grow over time.

Read his full story.

9. The 84-year-old blind man selling paintings for charity

Harry Boddington, a former electrical engineer who lives in Solihull, painted pictures that were printed on T-shirts and sold – with all the proceeds going to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Read his story.

10. The woman who fundraiser for a charity that helped her out of homelessness

Alice Kendall moved into the YMCA Downslink Group’s 24-hour supported accommodation in Sussex when she was a teenager. Since then, she’s not only gone back to work for the charity as a support and advice worker, she’s also been inspired to take on a Masters Degree in social work. That’s why she decided to fundraise for them. 

Read her full story

11. 6-year-old Heidi who took on a 603-mile walk for Alzheimer’s

Heidi Barker, from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, began her challenge to walk the equivalent distance of Land’s End to John O’Groats in March. She completes walks in her local area with family and friends then totals up the mileage and marks her progress on a map.

Read her full story.

12. Rae Snape, a headteacher who focuses on wellbeing

“I want my colleagues to feel a positive sense of identity and belonging,” Rae told us, earlier this year. “They should feel valued when they come to school. If we don’t look after the people who look after the children, who is going to look after the children? I feel like my job is to be the teacher of the teachers and I’m creating the optimal learning experience for them to flourish.’

Read her full story.

13. Amerjit Briah who always puts the planet first

Amerjit decided to quit her job as a lawyer and focus on creating eTHikel, an eco-friendly marketplace working with brands people can actually trust. She was inspired to do so after a family holiday to the Maldives, where she realised how much we really do need to protect our planet. 

Read her story.

14. ‘The Boy In The Tent’ who’s been camping since March 2020

Max Woosey has been camping out since March 2020 in his garden to raise money for his local hospice. Earlier in 2020, the hospice had helped care for Max’s neighbour and family friend, Rick Abbott. “Before he died he gave me his tent and told me to have an adventure with it, which is exactly what I’ve done,” said Max.

Read his story.

15. 2-year-old who raised £50k through a sponsored pebble hunt

Beatrice George, who lives in Kingholm Quay on the outskirts of Dumfries, South West Scotland, completed the hunt along with her dad, Matthew. “We were inspired as a family by Captain Sir Tom Moore last year, so in April 2020 we decided to do something a little different to try to raise money for the same charity, NHS Charities Together,” said Matthew.

Read the full story.

16. Lucy Todd, who’s driving forward sustainable kids’ clothes

While Lucy was working for the BBC on the arts and entertainment desk, she became more aware about the impact fashion had on the environment. “It’d never occurred to me before,” she tells Smiley News. “I found it so shocking, and knew I needed to stop buying fashion in the way I did. It was an eye-opener on a personal level.”

Read her full story.

17. David Pearl, who set up Street Wisdom

On a mission to improve the world’s wellbeing, David set up Street Wisdom, which is essentially an everyday creative practice you use as you walk. A smart fusion of mindfulness, neuroscience and wellness, it unlocks our minds and unblocks our creativity with every step to find inspiration in our everyday surroundings.

Learn more.

18. Marcia Roberts, who set a World Record in cycling

At 54 years old, Marcia Roberts set a world record by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again, which is called the LEJOGLE. It took her 11 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes to do the incredible ride, and she was helped along the route with supports, friends and family. Marcia battled a lot through the ride, from Storm Francis (which came on day three) as well as saddle sores and a lack of sleep. She’s raised more than £10,000 for her local mental health charity, Mind. 

Listen to her story.

19. Matt Bagwell, who ran 21 ultra marathons in aid of men’s mental health

He created an event called ‘Run the Country Ultra’, which saw him run more than 1,050km across England in September 2021 to raise funds and awareness for male suicide prevention and World Suicide Prevention Day. 

Listen to his story.

20. Anne-Marie Martin who danced for 24 hours for charity

Anne-Marie Martin is a professional dancer and the founder of diddi dance, a national franchise network of dancing activities for children. In June 2020, she took on the challenge of dancing non-stop for 24 hours. She was raising money for national children’s charity, Caudwell Children.

Listen to her story.

21. The dad who invented currency for disadvantaged people

To give homeless and disadvantaged people a more dignified way to access food, he came up with a new currency – special coins with a code on the back assigned to different local businesses around North London. 

Read his full story.

We’d love to hear from you in 2022 – do you have a story to share? Do you know someone who is an everyday hero, giving back to people and the planet? Let us know by emailing [email protected].


Mum braves cold and mud for endurance ‘wolf runs’

A mum from Derbyshire has been taking a run on the wild side in memory of her much-loved aunt – throwing herself into endurance trail events to raise funds for leading end-of-life charity, Treetops Hospice.

Roxie Mawbey, 33, from Walton-on-Trent near Burton, has raised more than £450 for the charity by taking part in gruelling 10k ‘Wolf Runs’ – tough events that involve mud, trails and obstacle running. Participants run, climb, jump, wade, crawl and even swim their way through a multi-terrain course.

Roxie, mum of Ellis, seven, has been taking part in the runs with her friend, Trice Davis, and dedicating her runs to her late aunt Emma Moore, who she says was “more like a sister”.

She says that she has been overwhelmed with the support and has nearly doubled her initial fundraising target.

“I hadn’t checked how much I had raised until after the last Wolf Run. Seeing how much my family and friends had donated, it just means everything,” said Roxie, who works at Measham Leisure Centre with Trice. 

[Read more inspirational stories from people giving back on Smiley Movement]

“Everyone knows what Emma meant to me. It’s just so nice that they would support me doing something that I wanted to do anyway, just for the fact that they know it means a lot to me, because it was Emma. I am just very grateful to them all, really. I think I am as mad as a hatter!”

Emma was first diagnosed with breast cancer when Roxie was 22. Initial surgery removed the cancerous tissue, but the disease came back a few years later. This time it had spread and was too advanced to treat. Emma had recently met the man who was to become her husband, and with her latest diagnosis, their wedding was brought forward to September 2015. She died in April the following year.

Roxie said that throughout her diagnosis and treatment, Emma always remained cheerful and utterly selfless.

“Emma was always happy. She always said that she would rather it had happened to her than to one of us who had children. She was very selfless like that. She said: ‘I’ve not got kids. I’ve got no-one dependent on me.’”

So, what made Roxie choose Wolf Run events to raise money for Treetops in memory of her aunt?

“Emma received care from Treetops Hospice and came for some lovely events to get spoiled, so this was my way of giving something back to the charity. I’ve always wanted to do a Wolf Run and if I set my heart to something, I will do it, and I just go hard core.”

Treetops Head of Community Relationships, Adela Appleby said: “Our huge thanks go to Roxie and Trice for tackling these fun but muddy challenges for Treetops.

“They have raised enough money to help pay for four nights of Hospice at Home nursing care for a patient who’s at the very end of life, who’s chosen to die at home.

“With kind support from people like Roxie and Trice, we can continue to provide our vital care to even more people in the community.”

You can donate to Roxie’s fundraiser online:

Feeling inspired? Those who would like to fundraise for Treetops Hospice should contact the Community Relationships Team on 0115 949 1264 or head to the Treetops website for more information,


Strays given Christmas cheer at dogs’ home

Dogs’ homes up and down the UK are struggling under the weight of abandoned pets this Christmas, as dogs bought in lockdown are increasingly being dumped on the doorsteps of the charities.

So Dr. Beckmann – the manufacturer pet stain and odour remover – has committed to helping these forgotten pooches to bring festive cheer to dogs at Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ home.

More than 3.2 million pets were bought by UK household during lockdown, figures have shown. But some dog owners are finding that their new pet is more trouble to look after than they had anticipated.

As a result, more than 5% of those who had bought a pet during the pandemic have already given it up, according to research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

Dr. Beckmann loves dogs and after the company saw the reports from experts showing this Christmas is going to be tough for Britain’s pooches and dogs’ homes, they decided to act – partnering with Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ Home and arranging a special delivery of Christmas dinner to give a group of abandoned dogs some much-needed festive cheer.

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The famous cleaning brand rebranded from Dr. Beckmann to ‘Dr. Petmann’ to launch its campaign, which saw the brand deliver 100 specially produced portions of premium doggy Christmas dinner to the abandoned pooches at the home in Warrington.

The Christmas dinner, made by natural pet food manufacturer Wilsons Pet Food, features raw premium turkey and is great for dog health.

Dr. Beckmann spokesperson, Susan Fermor, said: “When we saw the figures showing that lockdown has caused a deluge of abandoned dogs since the easing of restrictions, we had to act. So, we’ve worked to design and produce a special Christmas dinner of raw turkey food for the lovely dogs at the home. It is the least we could do.

“We’re going to give the dogs there a big Christmas celebration, with toys and decorations, party hats and, of course, the main event – the scrummy Christmas dinner.”

Manager of Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ Home, Anna Stansfield, said: “Since the pandemic, we’ve been so busy at the dogs’ home. It’s such a shame to see the number of dogs being abandoned at dogs’ homes right across the UK and really want to highlight that dogs are for life not just for Christmas.

“We’ve worked with Dr. Beckmann before and it’s lovely that they’ve come here to give our dogs some Christmas joy with this special Dr Petman Christmas Dinner and all the trimmings – it will be a special day for all the dogs here, as well as the staff.”


Strictly star delights dancers at social care club

Strictly Come Dancing former star, Vincent Simone, hosted a ‘Strictly Special’ accessible dance class for people supported by the charity Community Integrated Care.

Vincent shared advice, inspiration and encouragement for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, making dreams come true for more than 30 dance lovers who access care and support.

Community Integrated Care is one of Britain’s biggest and most successful social care charities – supporting more than 3,000 people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns and other complex care needs. It has developed a website,, which offers people who access support exceptional free live activity sessions every day.

Vincent, who starred in Strictly Come Dancing from 2006 to 2013 with the likes of Stephanie Beacham, Felicity Kendal and Natalie Cassidy, was a special guest on the website’s popular weekly Accessible Dance Club.

The dance superstar partnered with the charity’s accessible dance instructor Nicola Booth, from the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, to deliver a salsa inspired masterclass.

The session saw Vincent breakdown some of his most famous routines – including his acclaimed dance to Irene Cara’s ‘What A Feeling’, which he famously performed as a showdance in the 2008 series final with popstar Rachel Stevens. 

[Read more positive stories on Smiley Movement]

The guests, who access social care services across the UK, were given the VIP treatment by the dance icon. With Vincent going above and beyond for his fans – delivering a post-workshop Q&A and an exclusive surprise performance, it represented the greatest Christmas surprise possible for the group. 

Vincent said: “It was simply a joy to take part in the session and spend time with people supported by Community Integrated Care. Seeing the participants having so much fun, and exercising too, was an absolute pleasure. I know many people are still anxious about Covid-19, so sharing my passion and expertise whilst everyone is in the comfort of their own homes was fantastic.

“I could see how much today meant to everyone and hope there will be more opportunities to take part in further sessions in the future! After another challenging year, I hope everyone has a great Christmas.” is a unique hub created by Community Integrated Care that offers people who access care and support free daily online activity sessions, including dance, cookery, PE and games, chair-based exercise, discos, and yoga. Every session is expert-led and specially adapted to be accessible and inclusive for people who have disabilities.


How to support the elderly who are lonely at Christmas

Channel 4 and Age UK announced a brand-new partnership to highlight the significant number of older people that will experience loneliness this Christmas.

The new campaign aired on Channel 4, with the first of three 30 second films launching on 17 December during Celebrity Gogglebox.

The campaign shines a light on new research from Age UK that finds 1.4 million older people are expecting to feel lonely this Christmas, nearly a million older people do not have anyone to celebrate Christmas with this year and that nearly one million older people will feel lonely this Christmas after losing a loved one.

The campaign asks viewers to help Age UK Make Christmas a Little Brighter for lonely older people and directs them to the charity’s website where they can donate to help Age UK meet an upsurge in demand for its Telephone Friendship and Advice Services, to support those that need it the most this winter.

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Chris Braithwaite, agency and client sales leader, Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 has a long standing relationship with Age UK, working together on impactful creative campaigns that deliver an important message. We’re really proud to be collaborating again this Christmas to help raise awareness of the terrible loneliness experienced by too many older people at this time of year.”

Kathi Hall, head of brand & content strategy at Age UK said: “We’re excited to be working with Channel 4 again – together we’ve had some very successful Christmas partnerships in the past and I’m sure that this year will be no different. This partnership provides us with a powerful platform, which will help us to raise awareness of our Make Christmas a Little Brighter campaign.

“We’re hoping that as many people as possible take real notice of the films and donate to the Charity’s work – our Telephone Friendship and Advice Services are a lifeline to so many people, especially now during these challenging times.”

Age UK making Christmas brighter

Age UK’s Make Christmas a Little Brighter campaign is encouraging everyone to donate to help the charity meet an upsurge in demand for its Telephone Friendship and Advice Services, to support those that need it the most. It also asking everyone to make the effort to phone an older friend over the Christmas season, so they know they are not forgotten.

The Age UK Telephone Friendship Service is a lifeline for so many older people. More than 22,000 friendship calls were made during the Christmas period alone last year and the service is continuing to experience huge demand, so Age UK urgently needs donations so it can continue to be there for those that need it.

The charity has launched its Make Christmas a Little Brighter campaign to raise awareness of the need for its services and the issues so many are facing. Funds raised will also help to support Age UK’s Advice Line, which is open 365 days a year including Christmas Day, and Age UK’s wonderful subsidiary charity The Silver Line Helpline, which is open 24 hours a day for a friendly chat for anybody who needs it. To donate, visit:


Doorstep libraries bring big smiles to kids

The power of reading and books is undeniable for children – it sparks imagination, creativity, and also allows them to bond with their parents or whoever is reading to them.

This was the basis of Doorstep Library, a charity that brings the gift of books and joy of reading to the homes of children in disadvantaged areas of London.

The beginnings of Doorstep Library

It started with a pilot project on an estate in Fulham in 2008, the CEO, Katie Bareham, tells Smiley News. The project was originally run through another charity – ATD – which ran street libraries and used books as a way of engaging with families living in poverty. 

Doorstep Library’s founding chair was a local resident in Fulham and a long-term volunteer with ATD. In 2009, Katie joined as a volunteer and joined in on the vision to set up a separate charity to focus simply on the Doorstep Library project. “Local authority funding was up for grabs,” says Katie, “I had time on my hands, was looking to get into the charity sector – so we set it up and it all came together!”

From 2010, Doorstep Library has been an official charity – they went from having one project, to having five across Hammersmith and Fulham. 

How does it work?

Initially, the concept was to use books as a tool to engage with families and support them to connect to other services in the area. For Katie, one of her biggest drivers is getting books into the hands of families that need them. “Not just giving them books,” she says, “but giving children and parents to enjoy those books together. Reading for pleasure should be a part of everyday life.”

The aim is to inspire both parents and children to explore the world of books together. Before the pandemic, they would recruit a team of volunteers per project – a project is defined by a location or estate.

Volunteers would go in pairs to houses on this estate with a rucksack full of books and ready stories to children in their homes or on their doorsteps – for 20 minutes or so – and lend them books until the next week.

[Discover more positive stories on Smiley Movement]

“They just knock on doors,” explains Katie. “It really does engage with those families who are socially isolated and aren’t receiving access to services elsewhere.”

During Covid, the charity realised that the families they supported needed them more than ever. “We didn’t stop, we adapted,” says Katie. 

Now, the charity operates two models: the home-based, doorstep model, as well as the online model where they replicate what they do in the home, but on Zoom with a pair of volunteers. Having this option means they’ve been able to branch their support outside of London, too – and they’ve worked with other charities to provide tech to the families that may not have access to it. 

The key is to try and get parents involved in the sessions, says Katie, so they can replicate it outside of the sessions. 

Volunteers in need

Doorstep Library is looking at growing massively over the next three years – they currently support 500 children and hope to take that up to 3000. 

And that means volunteers are needed – volunteers head to read to families once a week within London, or online (where you can be based anywhere). In-person volunteers are required to support a couple of hours once a week – or they can be stand-in volunteers, too.

The charity is also in need of donations to support what they’re doing, to help them keep a steady supply of books and carry on delivering their services to families in need. 

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit


Identify trees and embrace nature with this app

An app that logs more than 700,000 of London’s trees is encouraging citizens to embrace urban nature. 

TreeTalk, designed by Revolution Consultancy & Design, uses data from the Greater London Authority, who plant and manage trees along London’s busiest main roads.

The most common trees in TreeTalk’s dataset are London Planes (Platanus x hispanica), Cherry (Prunus), Lime (Tilia), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Sycamore trees (Acer pseudoplatanus).

Currently, the tree of the month is the tall and slender Italian Alders (Alnus cordata), which come into their own in December, as they’re one of the few deciduous trees to keep their leaves right through the month. They’re still green too, and won’t entirely disappear until the striking male catkins appear in February.

And there couldn’t be a better time to explore this new app, as a study from Imperial College London has found that living near woodland is good for your mental health

(Read more about how to find an eco-friendly Christmas tree

TreeTalk isn’t just a map – if you live in and around London, you can create personalised trails to check in on trees in your local neighbourhood. 

It’s estimated that there are more than eight million trees in London – almost one tree for every Londoner. Beyond the streets and parks, London’s trees can be found in its private gardens, which cover around 23% of London and in its woodlands.

TreeTalk is inspired by and supports both the London National Park City movement and The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. The app has proven popular in other areas of the UK, and its creators hope it will be part of a broader transition towards a greener future.

(Read more about The Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback)

The app was created without any funding, and is the culmination of many 100s of hours of hard work. Any donations made will contribute to the on-going growth of the project. You can make a donation on TreeTalk’s website.

To take a look at TreeTalk’s map of London’s trees and see what’s growing on the streets and in the parks from Barnet to Croydon, and Bexley to Hounslow, visit TreeTalk