The Youth Charity, the Young Leaders and the Florist

Operation Smiles

During summer 2020, Voyage Youth initiated an upcycling volunteering project whereby young people distributed unsold flowers to those in need during the pandemic, spreading smiles and improving well being all round.

How did the collaboration come about?

Operation Smiles was set up by the London-based charity, Voyage Youth, in collaboration with Arena Flowers in Milton Keynes. It was developed to get young people out and active, helping them get some valuable work experience to support their educational pathways as well as ease the boredom and frustration many have experienced as a result of the lockdown, all while creating joy and smiles.

By sourcing surplus flowers and using the time and generosity of 21 young volunteers, the project was able to run with minimal funding across Hackney, Haringey & Tower Hamlets. Over 7 weeks, they distributed 540 bouquets via home-delivery, to care homes and at a pop-up street market.

Will the project continue beyond COVID-19 lockdown?

The Operation Smiles project will mark the beginning of Voyage Youth’s longer-term Peer Programme, focused on improving wellbeing and providing young people with opportunities to gain work experience.

How was the project funded

Through donations of flowers, space and time, with some general funding via collaboration with the GLA

Any other comments?

In order of importance, please choose the relevant factors that contributed to the success of this project?

Response to need
Response to COVID-19
The 'big' idea
Social impact
Delivery of Project
Combination of skill sets
Combination of participants
Volunteer support
Existing relationships
Available funding