Manchester’s over 55s showed their support for local wild bird populations by building nestboxes for their gardens and outdoor spaces at a fun, free workshop in Crumpsall Park this month.

The free workshop, designed to mark National Nestbox Week, was part of First Time for Everything, a programme designed by Royal Voluntary Service to support physical and mental health and wellbeing. Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, First Time for Everything gives people, particularly those that are older or less mobile, the opportunity to try something new for free in their local community, and to be social and active.

National Nestbox Week puts the spotlight on breeding birds and asks everyone to put up more nestboxes in their local area. Nestboxes provide birds with welcome shelter during cold periods and bad weather.

The First Time for Everything programme launched in 2017. Since then, and thanks to support from Royal Voluntary Service volunteers, more than 700 First Time for Everything events have taken place across Great Britain. Over 10,000 people have come along to date to try new activities like hot yoga, group singing, open water swimming, forage walking, chocolate making and line dancing. According to a recent participant survey, 97% of respondents said they felt happier after attending a First Time for Everything event and 80% felt more connected to their local community.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities, People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Whatever our age, ability or circumstances, getting out and about, being active and feeling part of our local community are incredibly important for our health and wellbeing. With generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, First Time for Everything brings local people together to have fun, meet new people and enjoy trying something new.”

Gillian Allen, who attended the First Time for Everything nestbox workshop, said:

“I really enjoyed birdhouse making today. Working in pairs was a good way for people to get to know others and also a giggle with”

Karen Kennedy, Royal Voluntary Service activity co-ordinator for Manchester, says: “It was very rewarding to see people chatting and enjoying themselves learning something new. We have lots more sessions planned this year for local people to enjoy, and are extremely grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support.”

For those unable to get out and about to First Time for Everything activities, Royal Voluntary Service has designed the Virtual Village Hall, an online activity hub and community. Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Virtual Village Hall helps people stay physically and mentally active, connected and having fun.

From crafts to Zumba, singing to meditation, there are over 600 sessions available to view on-demand, with new content added regularly. Sessions are live-streamed daily on Facebook, search @VirtualVillageHall. Followers take part in real time or view on-demand via the Royal Voluntary Service website or YouTube. It is free to join and take part, and a Facebook profile is not required. Where activities require equipment, ingredients or materials, these are low-cost and easy to source.

For more information about First Time for Everything activities in Manchester, contact Royal Voluntary Service activity coordinator, Karen Kennedy, on tel: 07795 450563, email  

To find out more about local volunteering opportunities with Royal Voluntary Service, visit  


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