The Mancunian Candidate

Those of you more familiar with the work of JVN will be aware that we recently spread our wings and became more involved with the Jewish communities in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. Our Manchester Volunteering Champion Melissa Chapman recently wrote this article for Gesher, the newsletter for Hale Synagogue, and we thought we’d share it with you…

You Can Make It Happen, by Melissa Chapman

My name is Melissa Chapman. I grew up in Hale Barns and was a regular at Hale Shule.  Although I have lived in North Manchester for the last ten years, my Mum and Dad keep me well informed about all the goings on in the community.

So why is a former Hale Barns girl from the other side of the M56 writing in Gesher under the cryptic title of “You Can Make it Happen”?


Langdon College gives those with learning disabilities a wide range of exciting opportunities to help increase their level of independence

Since October last year I have been the Manchester volunteer co-ordinator for the Jewish Volunteering Network (“JVN”). JVN is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for volunteering; our website showcases the wonderful charities and organisations which are out there, bringing together volunteers and volunteering opportunities. My role is to liaise with local organisations with volunteering needs, as well as directing new volunteers to the roles that best match their interests, availability and experience.

So what does this mean ‘on the ground’? It means that a weary mother who has spent every day in hospital tending to a sick child can have her spirits lifted by a manicure or hand massage, a new League of Jewish Women rota at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. It means that a blind person can listen to recordings of articles from the Northern Jewish Talking Newspaper. It means that an otherwise housebound and lonely person can have some human contact and be taken out shopping or for a coffee by a volunteer from The Fed. These are real initiatives, easy to do and have such a huge impact both for the person receiving and the person giving.

Before I became involved in JVN I did not appreciate the wide and diverse range of worthy organisations in the community, the work they are doing, the large numbers of people are already volunteering, and how many more are still needed. I found myself both inspired and daunted. The volunteering opportunities that I have already mentioned do not begin to scratch the surface of what is available.

The Manchester Jewish Museum provides a rich educational experience for many young people

The Manchester Jewish Museum provides a rich educational experience for many young people

Helping Langdon College students manage their eBay shop Re-loved online or supporting them in college educational activities; enriching the Manchester Jewish Museum experience for visitors with their guided tours; devoting time with young people with special needs engaging them in activities and taking them on outings organised by The Friendship Circle. Undertaking the invaluable meals on wheels deliveries for the Nicky Alliance Day Centre. Volunteering on reception or in the bistro at Maccabi. Supporting in the planning, organisation or security for the Manchester Day Limmud event or assisting to support young people for their Kosher Duke of Edinburgh expeditions with JLGB. The list goes on and on.

Volunteering need not be a large commitment it can be fun and very healthy and the huge variety of possible positions means that the lives of both the volunteers and the recipients can be enriched in ways that you might not imagine. You can volunteer. You can make it happen.

To find out more, please visit and register as a new volunteer today . Alternatively, please contact me at



Categories: JVN News, Volunteering Opportunities, Volunteering Profiles


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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