Volunteer with The Hornbeam

As a community hub running on a very limited budget we couldn’t survive without our volunteers. They are the heart and soul of the Hornbeam.

Whether you want to learn something new, or you have a specific skill you’d like to share – we’d love to hear from you! All our current volunteering opportunities are listed below.

Please note: we are currently only recruiting for volunteers who can volunteer Monday – Friday. We have no availability on the weekend at present however, our friends at The Farm Community Kitchen are in need of weekend volunteers to help them cook and distribute food for local mutual aid groups. Please sign up with them for weekend volunteering!

Food Rescue & Cafe volunteers:
Fill in this Volunteer Sign-up Form and let us know at volunteering@hornbeam.org.uk when you have done so. Or you can always drop by the cafe and say hello.

Cycling / Good Deeds on Bikes volunteers:
Fill in this Cycle Volunteer Sign-up Form and we will be in touch to arrange a phone-call induction.


Would you like to help save quality surplus food from landfill and get it into the hands and bellies of your local community instead? There are three main ways to do this as part of the Hornbeam’s Food Rescue Project: as a community cook, as a surplus food sorter, or as a surplus grocery stall holder. Read more about these roles below.

Food Rescue Project: Community cook

The Gleaners run the community cafe at The Hornbeam. It is a pay-what-you-feel cafe where all food is cooked from surplus ingredients. The pay-what-you-feel model means everyone can access food from the cafe. It relies on some people paying more so that others can pay less. To help the cafe provide delicious vegan meals for the community, volunteers sign up to cook or serve front-of-house in the cafe. All food is prepared using rescued ingredients that were destined for landfill! 

We never know quite what ingredients we will get so have to be creative and adaptable. Is this a challenge you would enjoy? Would you like to share your cooking skills with others, or gain more confidence cooking nutritious, vegan food? Do you just enjoy cooking with and for others?

Sign up to join the cafe team! 

What does it involve?

  • Batch cook a community meal from surplus ingredients as part of a team of 3-4 volunteers
  • Meet other people, feel a part of your local community, and make nutritious food more accessible to those at risk of social isolation
  • Share skills with each other and improve your own ability to reduce food waste
  • Contribute to reducing good food being wasted in our borough, building a more resilient community and caring for our environment collectively

Food Rescue Project: Surplus food sorter

Could you help the Hornbeam continue to be a local hub for surplus food redistribution? Are you organised and practical? Get involved as a surplus food sorter to make sure all the food we receive ends up in bellies, not landfill!

When & Where: Any time Mondays – Fridays, between 10 am – 3.30pm. We have a rota so you can choose a shift that works for you!

What does it involve?

  • Take deliveries of surplus food and record incoming quantities
  • Pack crates of surplus food for redistribution
  • Provide our community cooks, stall holders, and community cafe with ingredients
  • Become a food sorting coordinator to train others in the role
  • Help with composting, recycling and making sure we manage our waste in an environmentally considered way. We’re trying to build a closed system with some partners in the borough!

Food Rescue Project: Stall holder

Once the pandemic allows, we will run surplus grocery stalls outside the Hornbeam and anywhere else volunteers think will benefit from it.

These pay-what-you-feel stalls are a chance for us to engage and involve our wider community with the social and environmental issues around food waste and overproduction, helping us to make change from the bottom up. All are welcome to take from the stalls, reducing good food going to landfill and saving some pennies in the process. We operate on a ‘no questions asked’ system – we do not believe in means-checking people. There is enough surplus food to go around!

What does it involve?

  • Set up the stall with table and information display
  • Keep the stall stocked up with surplus food
  • Chat with local community about food waste reduction, share insights, and answer questions about the project
  • Discuss ways to get involved with the Hornbeam’s projects with those interested


Hornbeam’s ‘Good Deeds on Bikes’ cycling volunteers pick up surplus food from local businesses on their bikes and drop it off at the Hornbeam Centre where it is sorted and then redistributed (often by our cycling volunteers) within the local community. Good Deeds on Bikes volunteers also collect meals and groceries from The Hornbeam to distribute to local residents in need, who aren’t able to come collect it themselves for various reasons. 

In this way we rescue lots of food from landfill and redirect it to those who need to most all in a really environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

When: Various times Monday-Saturday 

Where: On your bike around Walthamstow 

What does it involve?

  • Cycle to a local shop to pick up surplus food and return it to the Hornbeam
  • Pick up food from the Hornbeam and deliver it to a local food bank or community centre
  • Take on a regular collection or be involved on an ad hoc basis via our WhatsApp group
  • Regular socials for our ‘Good Deeds on Bikes’ volunteers to meet up


Would you like to support people to get active and improve their wellbeing? Are you passionate about making people feel welcome and get them to enjoy our natural world? Join us as a walk leader for our weekly walks.

When & Where:

  • Monday: 9.30am Leyton Jubilee Park – Women-only
  • Monday: 11am Friday Hill TMO – everyone welcome

What does it involve?

  • Join our walks every Monday or as often as you can
  • Get trained as a certified walk leader (available every 3 months)
  • Design & plan walks
  • Chat to walkers and build a sense of community


Would you like to help get more people involved in their community through the Hornbeam? Have you got talent for catchy content and design? Join our friendly team at the Hornbeam office.

When: half a day on Thursday or Friday

Where: The Hornbeam Centre office

What does it involve?

  • Produce social media content and schedule posts
  • Promote upcoming events, volunteering opportunities, etc
  • Share community stories through our various platforms
  • Design flyers and promotional materials

A few other things we’re looking for:

  • Attend a Hornbeam DIY fix up day
  • Take photos of our events and bring our projects to life
  • Help The Hornbeam get in local media
  • Organise a community film night
  • Help us run events, like Apple Day
  • Run a workshop for the community

You can also get involved with other activities we are linked to:

at OrganicLea

  • Veg Box Packer (E4)
  • Cycle and Van Delivery Volunteer
  • Stall Volunteer (Hornbeam E17 or Leytonstone)
  • Horticultural Assistant (E4)
  • and many more… (see website)

at Forest Recycling Project (FRP)

Our sister organisation, Forest Recycling Project, are looking for  volunteers to work with their paint, wood or textile crafts project.  More keep volunteering voluntary

The Hornbeam is a signatory to the
keep volunteering voluntary‘ agreement