A safe and accessible city

Volunteers connecting people and changing communities

Hear from some of the wonderful people who lend their time to our communities and programs and find out how you can get involved.

  • Reggie’s Kitchen: Connecting communities over lunch

    This much-loved community program at Reginald Murphy Community Centre in Potts Point has been running in one iteration or another for 50 years.

    Community members can come and share a 3-course home-style lunch with others. Meals are cooked by a team of volunteers.

    “Our regulars are mostly older people but it’s open to all ages. Most are local. We also get students,” said Bishop Laryea, who works at the community centre.

    It takes a minimum of 2 volunteers to hold a Reggie’s Kitchen lunch: a chef and a helper to set the table, clean and serve.

    Credit: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • Reggie’s Kitchen: Volunteer cooks Gessica and Denis

    Denis is a chef and has been a regular volunteer for several years. He enjoys the meal planning and providing a service to the community. But you don’t need to be a professional to volunteer in the kitchen.

    Fashion designer Gessica is also a regular volunteer in the kitchen. A local and small business owner, she was keen to get involved in her community so went in and introduced herself. "I just walked in one day and said, ‘do you need any volunteers?’ And Bishop said, ‘yeah, we need someone to cook’.”

    While she was initially nervous, she likes cooking for people at home so decided to give it a go and 6 months on and she is there almost every week. “Usually, you are cooking for about 8 to 10 people and I am used to that. I come from a large Italian family.” Her experience cooking for dinner parties at home helped too, she says. She draws on her Italian background to cook meals like fresh pasta Bolognese but also loves to do a roast or a stir-fry. “I also have a lovely helper Ian who is there with me.”

    Credit: Rano Ibragimova
  • Reggie's Kitchen: Bishop with Allan, a regular at the centre

    Reggie’s Kitchen currently operates Wednesday and Thursday.

    “Over the years we have had about 120 volunteers through the program,” Bishop said. Right now, the program needs more regular volunteer chefs like Gessica and Denis, so if you’re handy in the kitchen – get in touch.

    “We need people just once a week on a Wednesday or Thursday from 10:30am to 1pm,” Bishop said. “It can be once a month or twice a month also as we are building a pool of volunteers and do rosters.”

    Gessica said her favourite part is the chats she has with the diners after lunch has been served. "I like to chat to them and find out about their past and what was going on and what brings them there and what they did and their stories. It’s enjoyable.”

    “I just wish more people would come in and help and do anything because it is fun!”

    Credit: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • Sydney City Farm: Our urban farm takes a lot of love and care

    In the heart of Sydney Park in St Peters is Sydney City Farm. It’s a place to learn about urban agriculture and sustainable food production. Volunteers help grow fresh seasonal produce which is donated to local charities.

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney
  • Sydney City Farm: A team of dedicated education and farm volunteers

    There are lots of jobs to be done and lots of variety with different tasks for different days.

    Volunteers can help in the nursery to raise seedlings, collect seeds, work in the orchard or get stuck into weeding and planting. They also share their expertise and passion with others helping at education programs and community events.

    Long-term volunteer Ruth said “The best thing about volunteering at Sydney City Farm is the variety of people who volunteer, and also being outside in the environment. For anyone thinking about volunteering, just give it a go. You don’t have to make a huge commitment and you will definitely learn something about growing and using food that you didn’t know before.”

    Farm volunteer sessions at Sydney City Farm last for 2 hours and are held on Thursdays, Fridays and every second Saturday.

    Credit: Renee Nowytarger / City of Sydney
  • Smart Green Apartments: Strata committee volunteers

    Strata committees are often the unsung heroes in multi-residential buildings. Their work is essential – but not always visible.

    “You're a key part of the machinery that manages and develops the building and its community,” Andrew said.

    Andrew is one of the volunteers at Windsor Plaza, a building in Sussex Street that’s part of our Smart Green Apartments program.

    “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes things needed to keep at 35-year-old building like ours functioning well,” he said. “Strata committee work can be satisfying, frustrating, demanding and a test of patience and communication skills.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney
  • Smart Green Apartments: Windsor Plaza leads the way

    Strata committee volunteers can play an exciting role in improving their home for residents now and in the future.

    Andrew said the biggest highlight for him as a volunteer has been the energy efficiency measures his strata committee introduced.

    Water consumption was reduced by 38%, saving 19 million litres of water and a major electricity efficiency upgrade reduced power consumption by 23%.

    The latest part of this power saving work saw the committee commission a 36kW solar power system activated in October 2021.

    The water and energy efficiency measures the building’s volunteers worked on have not only significantly cut the building's environmental footprint, but generated savings for strata of over $80,000 per year.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney
  • City of Sydney Archives: Volunteers contribute key details

    The City of Sydney Archives holds more than 1 million records from 1842, when the council was established, to recent years.

    Volunteers play an essential role in expanding the information available in our Archives & History Resources online catalogue.

    “We currently have 35 volunteers and they range from university students to retired people,” City archivist Janet Villata said. “They do the item level description for our collection – the part that is really time consuming.” Each volunteer is supervised by an archivist.

    The volunteer program has been running for over 2 decades and 3 volunteers have been helping for as almost long as they have been running the program. “Christine, Maureen and Trish have been with us for over 20 years. There are also a large number of archives volunteers who are over the 15-year mark and some over 10 years.”

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney
  • City of Sydney Archives: Peter has been discovering our city street by street

    Peter is a ‘newbie’ as a volunteer in the archives for 6 years.

    “I am quite interested in history. Especially Australia as a new country. I migrated here in 1980 from the Czech Republic so for me there is still a lot to learn and a lot to discover. It’s a win-win – I contribute something and learn as well,” he said.

    Peter has a regular Thursday afternoon shift in the archives. “There is a lot of satisfaction for me. I retired 6 years ago and you need something that really keeps you going and gives you motivation as well.”

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney
  • City of Sydney Archives: Bring history to life

    While many volunteer programs were disrupted by the pandemic, Peter could continue his work from home geotagging the City Engineers photograph series.

    He identifies the locations of certain photographs on Google Maps and adds the coordinates to the record. This means our communities can see how a place appeared in the past, and how it appears now.

    It’s his fifth project and he loves getting to see projects through from beginning to end.

    “I am quite blessed as Naomi in archives knows what I like so she gives me projects to keep me going and it’s helped me discover all these parts of Sydney and learn about the city.”

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney
  • Meals on Wheels: Delivering for our community

    Tucked away on a quiet street, you’ll find the distribution centre for Meals on Wheels.

    In NSW, over 14,000 volunteers deliver nutritious hot and cold meals. The City of Sydney’s Meals on Wheels service has 20 volunteers who deliver around 40,000 meals a year to vulnerable community members.

    Meals are packed into silver delivery bags and volunteers are assigned routes throughout our local area and some suburbs in the inner west.

    The meals are provided to residents unable to shop or prepare their own food. But it is as much about social connection as it is about food.

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney
  • Meals on Wheels: Dimity has been volunteering for 22 years

    Dimity has been volunteering with our Meals on Wheels service since 2001. It all started when her mum bought her a car and said she had better do something useful with it. Back then she was living right in front of a Meals on Wheels centre and thought that would be the easiest way to give back. Nowadays, she volunteers 3 days a week year-round.

    “I’ve built up a relationship with the people I deliver to,” Dimity said when asked what’s kept her coming back after 22 years.

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney
  • Meals on Wheels: Bringing food and a personal connection to people’s lives

    Graham started in February last year and helps out at least once a week with the City of Sydney service.

    When Graham felt the urge to help his community, he was inspired by his mum who volunteered at Meals on Wheels when they lived in Queensland.

    “It was just the first option that came into my head, and I thought, well let’s see if they’ll have me,” Graham said.

    “We’re making a worthwhile difference to people’s lives.”

    We are always looking for more volunteers to help in the Meals on Wheels program if you could lend a hand.

    Credit: Abril Felman / City of Sydney