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Three people walking down a road holding reusable shopping bags and hot drink dispensers

The power of volunteering

Early on in the coronavirus lockdown, Common decided to support organisations working on the frontline of the pandemic, by offering our time and skills, pro bono. We were pleased to be able to partner with Under One Sky, a non-profit organisation feeding and supporting those living on the streets of London.

Three people walking down a road holding reusable shopping bags and hot drink dispensers


Framing Opportunity

Generating Ideas

Build & Test


May 2020 – July 2020


Previously Under One Sky supported rough sleepers ad hoc, but at the beginning of April 2020, its operation shifted to become a daily nightly food outreach service. By June, it had also set up a breakfast service and was giving out other provisions such as clothing, toiletries, sleeping bags and mobile phones.

Two people sorting through supplies

Under One Sky is able to provide its services thanks to an army of volunteers, many of whom stepped up to volunteer during lockdown. The non-profit was keen to learn how its volunteers were finding the experience. It wanted to understand their motivations for joining and continuing to volunteer; to recognise how the experience was impacting the volunteers; and to offer volunteers the chance to give feedback on how the operation was running. This information would allow Under One Sky to respond more effectively to its volunteer needs; to fine-tune its overall operations; and to promote the need for more volunteers, as it looks to grow its operation across more cities in the UK and Europe.

Common conducted a volunteer workshop, survey and letter of gratitude exercise, to uncover more about the volunteer experience. We were able to give Under One Sky an array of useful insights, and have summarised the volunteers’ core experiences in the article below we published on Medium. In addition, we provided Under One Sky with a tool (from lived experience insights, contrasted with academic research and data) to demonstrate the power of volunteering for improving mental health and overall wellbeing, which in turn could help them raise further funding in the future.

Read more of our story

Thank you for letting me help you


Iria Lopez, Sharon Allen, Katherine Jennings


Design research, Social research

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