Sowing SMILES – Grassroots Community Action

At Voluntary Action North Lincolnshire, a number of our projects support those who have been in unemployment back into employment through a variety of training, coaching and mentoring. Other projects such as our Laser Emporium have provided opportunities for individuals with additional needs such as mental health needs, lack of confidence or who have been long term carers, to get back into employment and society, by supported activity and engagement.

Anyone who recruits volunteers will know that the right person in the right role is crucial. Volunteer placement must be done properly and all the more so when individuals are vulnerable or have had poor experiences in volunteering, the workplace or life in general.

Here at VANL we pride ourselves on finding the perfect placement for our volunteers through our projects. This week we have placed two volunteers into a fantastic Social Enterprise whose values so closely match our own of providing supported opportunities for individuals, Sowing SMILES, based on Laneham Street.

In placing them we have to assess a range of factors, including support available, safety and that the placement is going to meet the needs of both the volunteer and the organisation. Often we need to ensure that our placement can handle changes in circumstances, or health needs, and that premises are adaptable. Our work is about inclusivity and if you would like to learn more about inclusive volunteering please do contact us.

Sowing SMILES is a community enterprise set up in 2013 by two local ladies, passionate about sharing their skills and talents enabling individuals in our community to regain or learn new skills. Their aim is to raise funds to provide a variety of FREE workshops in the community for many individuals suffering from life controlling issues in Scunthorpe and the surrounding areas.

In order to fund and achieve this work, Sowing SMILES have opened a tea room at their premises in Laneham Street. Reports are glowing and the cakes are quite spectacular! Currently workshops being offered include floristry, mosaic-making, card-marking, book-folding and cooking, amongst lots of other opportunities. Anyone is welcome to enquire and attend, and the florist on site also provides a range of floristry services including for weddings, birthdays and other family occasions.

This is a fantastic example of a Social Enterprise which has been set up to better the lives of those in our community, and it deserves as much support as possible. Please do visit the website

Thank you Sowing Smiles for making our volunteers and staff feel so welcome and supporting them into your project. We wish you every success!

To learn more about the work of VANL please call us on 01724 845155 or see our website on