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The Coal Line Code

Guidelines for volunteers

The Peckham Coal Line’s journey to date has shown that with the power of both community and collaboration, the seemingly impossible can, in fact, be made possible. 

As we await the outcome of the Feasibility Study there are still so many unknowns, but what we are absolute certain of is the belief that good volunteering should be rewarding for everyone involved.

Many of us already involved with the Peckham Coal Line have volunteered in some capacity, at some point in our lives, and it got us thinking about what makes a good volunteering experience.  After all defines a volunteer as “a person who performs a service willingly…”.  We shared our stories; some good, some bad and some downright ugly and we all agreed that communication, tone, expectations and behaviours were all critical to the success of any participatory project.  Hence the Coal Line Code was born: 

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So, what does good volunteering actually look like? Read on to absorb more (or if you prefer to listen, you can follow this link to get an audio version)

The Peckham Coal Line believes that whilst all parties are able to share in a collective sense of pride and achievement, both the individual volunteers and the community should also benefit from their involvement, alongside the project itself. 


For the individuals, this might be through learning a new skill or skills, or understanding a different culture better.  For the community, its members become bathed in additional know-how and different groups become better aligned.

Each and every one of us brings to the Peckham Coal Line our distinct personality and a range of skills and experience that we have developed from our personal, professional and social lives.  This variety is not only exciting but critical to the success of a project like this.  It would be totally boring if we were all the same (and nothing would ever get done!) but different approaches, attitudes and working styles can sometimes clash. 

Good Volunteering works when…

  • We are not passive participants in a one man show.  We’ve all been in meetings at work, at social events or in teams where one person takes over and only their voice is heard…
  • We take the time to remember that our own personal opinion is not always going to be the right one…
  • We make others feel at ease so that they feel comfortable speaking up…
  • We remember that knowledge is not power…

Bad Volunteering happens when the individual feels like…

  • They are expected to commit too much time
  • They have too much to do as others are not pulling their weight
  • They are conflicted in other areas of their life
  • They are on the receiving end of impolite behaviours

At the beating heart of the Peckham Coal Line is the proposition of learning and teaching.  Our dream is that people who may never have met and would be unlikely to meet, come together to learn from each other through an exchange of skills, the sharing of knowledge and even perhaps through a mentoring relationship.  Come to the Peckham Coal Line curious and come excited to learn new things! 

Of course, we know that all Peckham Coal Line volunteers are good eggs, but if we are 100% honest, everyone can admit that at some time or another, they have struggled with those who were the chaos to our logic, took longer to understand the brief, made different life choices or put their cross in a different box on the ballot paper.  This is all part of life’s rich tapestry and we remind you that patience and grace, whilst not always the most easily accessible of character traits, are essential components to good volunteering.  We ask that you do what you say you are going to do, be dependable and be on time.  The old adage “treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself” holds so true in good volunteering.  We also ask that you have fun please!

We know that through working together we can achieve more, so we kindly ask that all volunteers read and keep the Coal Line Code in mind as we embark on this very exciting journey together. We look forward to working alongside you!


If you are interested in volunteering for the project - email to find out how.