Volunteers’ Week 2021 – Celebrating Volunteers
Many organisations across the UK rely on volunteers to keep them going, whether they are national, regional or local groups. Volunteers’ Week was set up to say a big ‘thank you’ to all those people who give their time and energy to support a cause they feel strongly about – in whatever form that takes. From assisting with library book deliveries to the elderly or helping listen to children read at primary school; sorting out charity shop donations behind the scenes, to digging out vegetable patches in a community garden – the common theme is doing something good for benefit of the community.
Volunteering should be something that everyone can get involved with. You do not need to have specific qualifications to get started – only the willingness to give your time freely, and this could be a couple of hours a week or as a ‘one off’ event. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and improve your social skills. It has been shown that people who volunteer have improved physical and mental health, thought to be because volunteering gets you meaningfully connected with others – there is a natural boost to mood when we have a sense of accomplishment, and we get this from helping other people!
If you have considered volunteering before but been put off by not knowing where to start, I suggest you think about what is important to you. For many people who regularly volunteer, they start because a family member or close friend has used a service that they have found useful- a parent volunteering to help run a Scout group which their child attends, for example. Others come across a cause which they truly feel passionately about, for example protecting the environment which might lead to becoming an ambassador for a local Wildlife Trust. Think about the skills you have as well, and the skills you would like to develop through your volunteering. Whatever they are, Somerset has a wealth of opportunities to get involved with. Somerset’s local volunteering service is called www.sparkachange.org.uk and you can use this website to search for more information about roles local to you. Somerset is also taking part in a national pilot project with the NHS, called OPEN mental health. We will be featuring information from this project in future blog posts, but if your mental health is a barrier to volunteering and you feel that you would benefit from having a volunteering ‘buddy’ to support you in finding the right opportunity and getting started, they can help by matching you with someone who would be able to help.
We have a couple of different volunteering opportunities for people living with a disability in Somerset that will be coming up in the next few months, so keep an eye on our Volunteering page or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive information as we start recruiting for these roles. You could volunteer with us as an auditor – helping with the assessments of buildings, websites and premises to ensure that they are accessible to all. We will also be looking for volunteers to help people understand the needs of disabled people in Somerset when they offer services, by getting involved in the learning events we will be running. We will be offering training and support, and your travel expenses will be paid in return for your commitment to improving Somerset as a place to live, as someone with lived experience of disability.