What does volunteering at Braziers involve?
A typical week includes:
- cleaning the house, bathrooms, making beds in the guest rooms and other domestic tasks (Monday and Friday are cleaning days and all volunteers are asked to help on these days)
- cooking, chopping vegetables or hosting duties for our guests
- helping in the gardens and on the estate: planting, digging, harvesting, fencing, chopping wood, etc.
- painting and decorating
- maintenance tasks, fixing things, building renovations
- and if you are happy to (and we have some when you come) – feeding animals.
Sometimes you will work in a group and sometimes alone. There may be ongoing projects that you can join and there are tasks that need doing each day. Volunteers are expected to take an active approach in taking on daily jobs and routines as well as bing responsible for conducting and leading projects, if they like.
Where will I stay?
You will stay in the main house, or in one of our outbuildings, including a lovely brick garden cottage. You will share your room with a maximum of three other people of the same sex, but most often you will be in a twin room. Bedlinen and towels are provided.
Whom will I meet there?
Although some volunteers come from the UK, many are from overseas, For them, being at Braziers Park is a chance to experience and adapt to a foreign culture and improve their English. They also have the opportunity to meet people from different countries, with different cultural backgrounds.
Can you help me with a sponsorship letter or my visa application?
Unfortunately, we can’t advise you on anything to do with your visa or your right to stay in the UK. And we can’t write you a sponsorship letter either. This is your responsibility.
How many hours do volunteers at work?
The volunteering week is about 30 hours over five days usually including one weekend day. A planning meeting is held each morning at 9.00 to organise the daily tasks. The work day is 9am until 4pm with a one-hour break for lunch and a 30-minute tea break at 11am. There are also duties that require help at other times (such as preparing and cleaning up after the evening meal, locking up at night, etc). Regular sensory meetings are held where we gather to talk about things, to share experiences, explore ideas or issues. Volunteer attendance is encouraged but not required.
There is a weekly volunteers meeting, led by a resident who will facilitate, take notes and relay any information to the community.
What kind of character are we looking for?
As well as diligent, kind, tolerant and conscientious people, we particularly appreciate:
- People with initiative
- Good communicators (English language essential)
- People who are happy in a team and alone
- Willingness to learn and share
- Those that engage in active leadership if called on
What does Braziers Park offer in return for volunteering?
- Training in house-keeping, organic gardening, growing, harvesting, cookery for large numbers (20-40), in hosting and running a large venue, office work, animal care (sometimes), land management and more;
- References for future employers or projects;
- Informal discussion time, cultural exchange with residents, other volunteers & visitors;
- A chance to improve your English, provided the level you arrive with is intermediate;
- Quiet, reflective space for personal projects and transformation;
- And of course your bed, bedding, use of house, grounds, laundry, library and three meals a day.
Volunteers are encouraged to organize their free time as well as collective activities such as film viewing, walks, bonfires or game nights.
I have mental health challenges. Is Braziers Park the right place for me?
Most of us humans move at different times through periods of good mental health and then into periods of not-so-good at other times. Here at Braziers, it’s the same, as you can probably guess!
Living in community can be rewarding, and at the same time, very challenging, with so many people living and working together, and new conditions and experiences. Many of us go through some emotional turbulence in the initial stages of being here, and even when we’ve been here a while. Sometimes the ideals and high hopes we project onto a community don’t always come true. (That doesn’t mean the community doesn’t have value; it’s just that it’s made up of fallible human beings!)
We are a supportive community and aim for inclusion. We recognise our individual differences and needs. At the same time, there are limits to how much we can support people if they become very unwell. So for your benefit, and the benefit of the community, we recommend you ask yourself if you have the necessary support in place for your condition before you arrive. Consider if you will be able look after yourself and meet your needs while you are here.
Please take responsibility for yourself by making time to do this.
Are there any restrictions to living at Braziers?
We aim to eat conscientiously, with thought about the environment and health. In practice, we eat a predominantly vegetarian diet with gluten-free, vegan and occasional meat options. When a meat meal is served, a vegan/vegetarian option is always available.
We try to produce as much of our own food as we can and we grow it organically, with as little impact on the environment as possible. We also take part in a food-waste recycling scheme in which we receive food that would otherwise end up wasted. While this isn’t often organic, it does mean we’re respecting the sanctity of food.
No smoking is allowed in any buildings. You can smoke outside if you wish but please do not drop cigarette ends anywhere on the estate, not even out of sight. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation – we may ask anyone who is inebriated to leave. Illegal drugs are not permitted. A tolerant attitude to others is essential.
How long can I stay at Braziers?
Volunteers may stay for between one month and three months depending upon availability of supervision and accommodation.
We also have regular Day Volunteers on Tuesdays best suited to people who enjoy spending time outside, especially gardening and maintenance, although there may be indoor tasks such as preserve making or decorating.
I have volunteered at Braziers Park before – can I come back?
Yes, certainly! We welcome returners who understand the ethos, as well as the nuts and bolts of our community. We also like people who have not volunteered with us before the chance to do so, so we have to balance these different needs. You should try to book well in advance (3-6 months or more).
If you want to return, use the firstname.lastname@example.org address to enquire.
How would I travel to Braziers?
Over land/sea travel is ecologically better than flying. Braziers is about 30 minutes by bus from Reading, which is 25 mins from London by train or up to two hours by bus – there is a good bus service from Reading and Oxford. The bus stop is just a 5-minute walk away. Full details on our How To Find Us page. If arriving or leaving on foot in the dark, you’ll need a torch to alert traffic on the narrow lane leading to Braziers Park and to hail the bus.