Volunteering from Across the Pond by Nancy Sutter

This blog post was written by our superstar intern, Nancy, in December 2015. She played a key role in helping us transition from a small wholesale operation into the amazing social enterprise we have now!


Volunteering from across the pond

Nancy and Julia - another ace intern.

Nancy and Julia - another ace intern.


Volunteering at Providence Row has been a true highlight of my study abroad experience in London. As an American, it has been my first exposure to a British not-for-profit and I am continually impressed to say the least! The more time I spend at Providence Row, the more I learn about the unique services they offer and the good they bring to the community.


The Learning Programme at Providence Row makes many different activities available with the hope that clients will get involved in something they enjoy. Activities include art, English and IT. These opportunities inspire confidence again in skills, new or renewed, as well as provide an environment for clients to build new social networks. By making these different activities available, Providence Row is helping people out of homelessness by giving them access to support during their journey.


The majority of my time at Providence Row has been spent developing the newly established social enterprise Providence Row Bakery. When they join the bakery trainee scheme clients can work in the kitchen baking goods that are then sold to the local area.


Clients have the chance to take part in the many steps from baking to delivering, gaining experience in a real business that can greatly improve a client’s CV. It’s a big project that has been really fun to be a part of.


My tasks at Providence Row have mainly included gathering and organising up-to-date market research in order to formulate strategies and plans that will help achieve the bakery’s goals. I have created surveys and visited cafes in the local area to discuss their strengths and weaknesses as a business as well as their interest in supporting our bakery. Upon analysing the collected data we have been able to create innovative market strategies to generate even better economic returns.


Pitching Providence Row Bakery to the local area was a challenging but rewarding task. Asking businesses to take time out of their day can seem invasive and disruptive but important to the success of the Providence Row Bakery. Providence Row has created support and opportunities to so many different people and continues to do so every day. Speaking with local businesses about Providence Row and informing them on how they can get involved becomes easier when you are speaking on behalf of a wonderful organization.


The people at Providence Row are fun and supportive making my time here an enjoyable experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend my last two months in the UK volunteering at Providence Row before I go back to the United States. I will be sure to check in on the bakery and spread the word about Providence Row.