This week (1-7 June) is national Volunteers’ Week, and as part of this annual event, we’re taking the opportunity to say thank you and to recognise the contribution volunteers make across our region.
It’s estimated that across Humber and North Yorkshire, we have over *128,000 active volunteers, who contribute over 9 million hours each year volunteering in our communities.
Over the past two years volunteers have played a crucial role in the response to the pandemic, from delivering prescriptions to housebound or shielding residents, to supporting local food banks, and calling isolated and lonely people in our communities. Volunteers have been an enormous support to the NHS and to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations, and we can’t thank them enough for their contribution.
This support is needed now more than ever as we manage the impacts of the pandemic, such as long waiting lists, support for people living with the long-term effects of COVID and lockdowns, isolation, and the increased cost of living.
Despite these pressures, creating appropriate volunteering roles and offering great volunteering experiences is still a priority. Local volunteer centres and VCSE support and development organisations can assist with volunteer recruitment and retention, and volunteer management best-practice advice to ensure organisations benefit from the many advantages of working with volunteers.
The benefits of volunteering are not only limited to the organisations they support though. From a personal perspective, volunteering can help you gain new skills, further a personal interest, enable you to gain confidence and experience, meet new friends, and allow you to give back to your local community.
Rebecca is a Community Welfare Calls Volunteer at York CVS. This is a role that supports people who have been referred to social prescribing through their GP, who would benefit from non-medical sources of support to improve their health and wellbeing. She says;
“My role is to act as a telephone befriender for vulnerable members of our community. I’ve been matched with two befriendees and I call them every week on a set day and time. I’ve been able to develop a really positive and rewarding relationship with my befriendees, and I really look forward to our chats.
The purpose of my role as a Community Welfare Calls Volunteer is to help to improve their wellbeing and to help alleviate their feelings of loneliness. However, through volunteering with this project, I feel like my overall wellbeing has improved as I feel like I’m making a difference in these peoples’ lives. It’s also so rewarding to be a part of a dedicated team who work so hard to deliver a person-centred service. It’s a fantastic project and I thoroughly enjoy my time volunteering.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, or you are looking to recruit volunteers, visit the websites below to find out what local volunteering opportunities and support are available.
*Figures taken from a Durham University report titled: The contribution of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to health and wellbeing in Humber, Coast and Vale.