An image of GPA Presenting Kevin with his National Volunteering Certificate


If we knew a friend or a neighbour was going hungry each night and a simple hot meal would change that, chances are we would turn off the TV and head over armed with supplies and ready to help. But the issue of food poverty in 2023 goes much deeper than checking in with our own circle of family & friends; we have reached the point where we need to widen our definition of who counts as our neighbours in need of help just to have a hot meal now and again.

Enter volunteers like Kev. Since GPA’s Volunteer Passport launched, we have seen over 525 Northamptonshire volunteers sign up and give their time to worthy causes and help the most vulnerable members of our community. Everyone who gives back is invaluable to us and our partners, but Kev’s story really stands out and we wanted to meet him to hear more about his volunteering efforts.

We knew Kev was special when he became our first volunteer to achieve the National Volunteer Certificate. To earn this accredited certificate, volunteers need to complete online learning modules to demonstrate their volunteering knowledge and they also need to complete a minimum of 60 hours of volunteering for their chosen organisation. Kev completed the training and 60 hours in only a few months, and it was clear to see this wasn’t just a volunteer giving his time, it was someone looking to go above and beyond to make a difference in their community.

We arrived at Community Spaces Northampton in early October 2023 where Kev volunteers to surprise him with his National Volunteer Certificate. The charity’s trustees and staff were in attendance for the presentation and the round of applause at the end was quickly followed by the kindest words from a group of people we’ve ever heard. The charity talked about how hard Kev works when giving back his time and how they would struggle to operate without him.

Alice from Community Spaces told us “Kevin is incredibly reliable, tirelessly giving his time to help CSN, and ensure the charity’s Community Hub programme is a success. Whether it is transporting donations across the town, setting up CSN’s spaces for communities to use, befriending local people or being the designated first aider, nothing is too much, and Kevin is always there to help”.

After the glowing praise for Kev, we were suddenly hit with a fact that stopped us in our tracks; without this space, many of the people who drop into the centre wouldn’t eat a hot meal that week. When we heard that statistic it suddenly hit home just HOW important volunteers are in 2023. People’s lives are depending on people like Kev giving up their free time to go and help.

The cost-of-living crisis is making life hard for many of us. Some have gone from cutting back on luxuries to cutting back on essentials, to the point where even a hot meal is considered unattainable for the most vulnerable members of our community. A report by Food Foundation found that in January 2023, a total of 3.2 million adults (6.1 per cent of households) reported not eating for a whole day because they couldn’t afford or access food. That’s why services like Community Spaces, who rely on volunteers just so people can eat a hot meal that week, are so important.

Of course, not everyone can go above and beyond like Kev does, and some of us feel like we can’t volunteer at all. Perhaps there are commitments and family we need to focus on, and some of us feel like we simply don’t have the spare time to give back. Even though he works a full-time job, Kev finds time every week to give back and ensure those less fortunate are looked after. That’s what’s great about volunteering; although it may feel like you’re giving up your free time, Kev understands that by turning off the TV and helping others, what you gain is so much more. On the day he told us “It’s good; it expands your own vision of what’s going on in your community. It helps my mental health as well, going out and meeting people and helping. We do get quite a few people that REALLY thank us and that gets to you; it’s like… giving back feels good”.

Volunteering is proven to help you feel good and improve your mental wellbeing. The feel-good endorphins associated with volunteering are proven to last much longer than instant gratification moments, and the reward and satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference in your community with the people who shape who you are may just be the best reward of all.

Don’t get us wrong. Everyone needs time to stop, decompress and take time for personal care. Not everyone can make as big an impact as Kev has made. But what’s great about volunteering is that if all of us come together to give back, even just a little bit, all those hours combined DO make just as big an impact as Kev does. Together, volunteers on Volunteer Passport have given back over 3000 hours of their time to make Northamptonshire a better place and now, more than ever, we need even more people to do the same. Can you turn off the TV one evening and help the people in your community when no one else can?

To get involved, you can create your own Volunteer Passport account at and experience for yourself why volunteers keep giving their time again and again.