What does volunteering at Braziers involve?
A typical day may include:
- 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 do the activities in a group and sometimes alone, there may be ongoing projects and every day there are tasks that need to be done. Volunteers are expected to take an active approach in taking on daily tasks and routines as well as taking responsibility for conducting and leading specific projects, if they feel comfortable doing so.
Where will I stay?
You are likely to stay in our outbuildings, primarily in a lovely brick garden cottage, as the main house is usually used for the guests and residents. 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 are towels are provided, so you needn’t worry about those.
Whom will I meet there?
Although some of our volunteers originate from the UK, many are from overseas, and for them, being at Braziers Park is an opportunity to experience and adapt to a foreign culture and improve their English. They also have the opportunity to meet other volunteers from different countries, who may also have different cultural backgrounds.
How many hours per week do volunteers at Braziers contribute?
The volunteering week is approximately 30 hours over 5 days usually including one weekend day. A planning meeting is held every weekday morning at 9am to organise the daily tasks. The basic day is 9am until 4pm with a one hour break for lunch and a 30 minute tea break at 11am. There are duties that also 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 compulsory.
There is a weekly volunteers meeting – this is led by a resident, who will facilitate, take notes and relay any information to the community.
What kind of character are you looking for?
As well as dilligent, kind, tolerant and conscientious we particularly appreciate
- People with initiative
- Good communicators (English language essential)
- People who are happy in a team and alone
- Willing to learn and share
- Willing to 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;
- Chance to improve English – provided level is already intermediate;
- Quiet, reflection space for personal projects and transformation;
- And of course your bed, bedding, use of house, grounds, laundry, library and 3 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.
Are there any restrictions involved in 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 occasionally 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, this isn’t organic but it means we’re respecting the sanctity of food.
No smoking is allowed in any buildings, though, of course, you can smoke outside on the estate 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 as a volunteer at Braziers?
Volunteers may stay for anything between 1 month and 3 months maximum depending upon availability of supervision and accommodation.
We also have regular Day Volunteers on Wednesdays and Thursdays 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?
Priority is given to new volunteers rather than returners (of whom we have many!) to give people who have not volunteered with us before the chance to do so. This does not mean that returning volunteers are not welcome – quite the contrary! You should try to book well in advance (3-6 months or more). The maximum stay period for returners is usually 1 month in each calendar year.
Likewise, if you want to return, you need to correspond with email@example.com to arrange your stay.
How would I travel to Braziers?
When possible over land/sea travel is better for the environment than flying – Braziers is about 30 minutes by bus from Reading which is 25 mins from London by train or upto 2 hours by bus – there is a good bus service from Reading. Full details on our How To Find Us page. If arriving or leaving on foot in the dark you will need a torch to alert traffic on the narrow lane and to hail the bus.