It is National Volunteers’ Week, which has for 35 years celebrated the role of volunteers of all ages, who give their time and support to make a difference and help others.
There have been many changes in the voluntary sector in the intervening years, but according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) one in five people still give their time regularly to the causes they care about. A recent survey carried out by NCVO which focuses on volunteering that takes place through groups, clubs and organisations, highlights their excellent work involving volunteers, with seven in 10 of those interviewed saying they have, or would recommend, volunteering to friends or family.
Norfolk Community Foundation works closely alongside many of the local community groups and charities in the county, some of which are entirely volunteer-run and other groups who rely on volunteers to help deliver their work, including people who have specialist skills such as counselling.
The benefits for those who volunteer are universally recognised, helping to improve wellbeing and providing a sense of purpose. For some it is transforming, as evidenced by this feedback from a charity supporting the homeless in Great Yarmouth. They talk about Martin, who has volunteered with them since 2016, who throughout his life has had many and varied forms of employment but a lack of work had resulted in a huge loss of self-confidence and a general despondency. Being a volunteer has had a huge influence on Martin: he works well as part of a team and looks forward to volunteering three days a week. The community which he has become part of increases his wellbeing and gives him a tremendous boost. As a volunteer he has received training, has grown in confidence, and this has enabled him to seek work. He now has regular seasonal work as a kitchen porter in a seafront hotel and continues to volunteer when he can.
At Norfolk Community Foundation, we experience first-hand the vital role of volunteers in the planning and delivering of amazing projects across Norfolk, which definitely needs celebrating!