We asked our charity clients: What do volunteers mean to you?

Over the years, we have worked with a number of charity clients in the local area. We’re proud to have had the opportunity to listen to their needs, and help them find creative solutions to aid growth.

Inspired by the recent Volunteers’ Week and Small Charity Week, we went to our current charity clients and asked them: ‘What do volunteers mean to you?’

We wanted to give a little insight into why we enjoy working within the community and for our charity clients, and we’re incredibly appreciative for their responses. 

As an integral part of any charity, our work designing buildings is to enable volunteers to fulfil their roles, and here our clients give a little more information on what their volunteers do and why they’re so important. 

Freedom Church and the Trauma Recovery Centre (TRC)

Please explain who Freedom and the TRC are, and the important work you do.

We are a church with a contemporary, modern feel that hosts live bands in our meetings. We welcome 100's of children and youth from the local area. Freedom Centre UK hosts the TRC HQ in Bath. 

TRC is a charity set up to see children restored from abuse. The Trauma Recovery Centre started in 2011 and has four centres to provide creative therapy to help children and young people recover from the effects of traumatic experiences. Whilst working with them, we see the range of trauma symptoms reduced significantly, so the children can begin enjoying a fulfilling life again. 

What opportunities are there to get involved with volunteering for you?

We often have people helping the TRC by painting or gardening within our grounds to make them more pleasant for the children. We also need people to help us fundraise - the building and work we do each week exists because of the kind donations of generous and hardworking fundraisers. They bungee jump, abseil, run, backpack and do many other brilliant things to enable children and young people to visit the centre!

Could you say a little about the volunteers you work with, and what they enable you to do as a charity?

In the TRC we are grateful for our volunteers. We have placement students who work on our team each year. They give up a year in the middle of their degree in psychology and education to help us with admin and fundraising, and to get trained to work with our vulnerable children as assistants.

We also have volunteers who come and mentor children and young people who have graduated from therapy but want to keep coming to the centre. We are also grateful to a volunteer gardener who has made our grounds look incredible. We are so grateful to her and the hours she has given us! 

In Freedom our church are the volunteers. Here are some statistics behind what we do:

•    We have spent more than 50,000 hours volunteering to help our communities. 

•    We have spent 2,184 hours making and distributing food to the homeless. 

•    We have spent 2,400 hours since 2005 giving clothes and baby equipment out  to people in need. 

•    We have run a clothes company giving clothes to people to help them get employment, pregnant young mums and we have given 1000's of presents all year round to families in need of toys, equipment and help. 

•    We have spent more than 19,000 hours doing DIY in the local community, digging gardens, painting refuges etc. 

What are the long term aims for Freedom and the TRC?

Freedom aims to help people find hope, purpose and faith and to be a blessing to our communities in bringing hope. 
TRC aims to continue to enable vulnerable young people and children to recover from experiencing trauma so that they can live fulfilling lives. 

We have worked with Freedom for many years, and after every meeting with them I come away feeling more excited about their project; they are a joy to work with. They are a client who, through their experience of providing guidance and support in a variety of spaces, understands the potential for architecture to have a positive impact on those that use it. Because of this understanding they have been passionately involved in the design process, and have placed a great deal of faith and trust in us to deliver their building. I hope that the outcome not only meets, but exceeds their expectations.

Claire Miller - SRA Architect


Bridge Care

Please can you explain who Bridge Care are, and the important work you do?

Bridge Care is a Christian charity dedicated to caring for elderly, vulnerable older people and providing support for their family members. 

It runs Bridgemead, a residential and nursing home for 32 residents that serves Bath and the local area. Our aim is to help older people enjoy a superb quality of life through excellence in care and facilities. This is underpinned by our values of delivering the same high standard of care to all, without discrimination of any kind

Care is given according to need. The services provided by the trust are supported by fees charged to those who can afford to pay and by gifts, covenants and contributions from statutory bodies.

What opportunities are there to get involved with volunteering for your charity?

Volunteers play a huge role at Bridgemead, helping residents in a wide variety of ways. From manning the shop trolley, assisting in activities and distributing teas and coffees, to simply being a good friend, their work is priceless in bringing joy to residents. In fact, many of our volunteers find it equally rewarding – accompanying residents on day trips and spending time reading, chatting or eating.

Could you say a little about the volunteers you work with, and what they enable you to do as a charity?

Making time to chat, offering lifts, providing administration assistance and helping residents get digital savvy on social media are just some of the ways our volunteers help us operate as a charity. Our volunteers do a lot behind the scenes, but even for those who have limited time to spare, we appreciate that many people just pop in for a cup of tea and a chat on a weekly basis. This makes a big difference to our residents’ lives.

What are the long term aims for Bridge Care?

Bridgemead has served the community for the past 25 years and we are improving facilities to meet the demands of the next 25 years. 

We are situated in an idyllic location beside the river Avon, and we are currently improving the flood resilience of the building to cope with the effects of climate change on the river level. Read more about the work of SRA to help modernise and improve Bridgemead

People are living longer and have more complex nursing needs than 25 years ago.  We are planning new rooms which will meet the latest standards and expectations for nursing care. Longer lives also mean an increased number of people with dementia.  We are adapting the home to be Dementia Friendly.

In the longer term, we would like to build a larger home so that we can give more support to elderly people.

Working with Bridge Care to respond to the challenges they are a facing has been rewarding and inspiring.

At every stage Bridge Care have responded positively, this has correlated well with how we approach our projects here at SRA by aspiring to respond to each challenge by looking for opportunities that can inform and enrichen a solution.

Through this project we have particularly enjoyed addressing the sensory, cognitive and physical requirements of aging and of living with dementia and developing this into a scheme which is contemporary, homely and inclusive.

Emma McDermott - SRA Architect

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Genesis Trust

Please explain who The Genesis Trust are, and the important work you do.

We support disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the Bath area, offering opportunities for them to make healthy choices and improve their lives and prospects.

What opportunities are there to get involved with volunteering for you?

Seven of our projects are entirely volunteer run, and three are run by professional paid staff with many volunteers.

We have built a strong relationship with all the churches across Bath, and they help to support us financially and by providing the majority of our 700 volunteers.

Could you say a little about the volunteers you work with, and what they enable you to do as a charity?

Volunteering is a great way to make a difference to the local community of Bath, meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, learn new skills and make new friends. Our volunteers are all ages, from 18 to 83.

We have 700 people who volunteer with us. Over half of these help on our long running evening soup run which operates 365 nights a year. From teenagers to pensioners, our volunteers are all committed and enthusiastic and we couldn’t deliver our projects without them!

Volunteers run a variety of events, from a local “sleep out” to creative writing courses and the running of vital food banks in the area. Everyone who works with us has something to bring.

What are the long term aims for The Genesis Trust?

Genesis is growing, and is developing further “empowering” orientated projects to operate within our new Walcot Street premises, adding to the existing strengths and experience people have of the trust.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Genesis Trust, who have been offering support, security and above all hope that there can be change for the better for over 21 years. Their positivity for the future is apparent not only in their charitable work, but also in their ambition for their new home on Walcot Street in Bath. Because this is the charity’s first permanent residence, and one which must facilitate their charitable work for the foreseeable future, they have rigorously questioned what could be in the building, as well as what is currently planned. This perspective on longer term use can sometimes be difficult for a client to appreciate, and it has been a pleasure to be involved in the process of Genesis considering this. The hope is for a building that is flexible enough to accommodate their future needs, with efficient systems that are easily maintained and materials that are robust and wear well.

Claire Miller - SRA Architect

We’re passionate about helping the community we belong to, and listening to charity clients to help realise their dreams and ambitions. The links below will take you to their websites, where you can find out more about them, what they do and how you can sign up to volunteer.


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