The 1st to 7th June is Volunteers’ Week – an opportunity to say thank you for the contribution that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.
To kick things off, here are some facts that might surprise you:
- In 2018/19, 9.4 million (36%) people volunteered through a group at least once a yearand over 11.9 million (22%) of people did so at least once a month.
- The most common reason overall for volunteering is wanting to improve things or help people (42%).
- In 2019/20, there were around 163,000 voluntary organisations in the UK, most of which rely on volunteers.
- In 2017/18, the voluntary sector contributed £18.2bn to the UK economy. This is equivalent to about 0.9% of GDP.
- 67% of volunteers give their time to charities and community groups, but many others also volunteer in the public and private sectors.
So how can volunteering make a difference?
Lisa is one of the individuals we support at Addoldy Road, our supported living service in Glynneath. For many years, she has volunteered at her local charity shop, which gives her a sense of achievement and fulfilment.
During lockdown, however, Lisa started to struggle and went through a difficult period with her mental health.
Now that she is back behind the till though, Lisa’s Key Worker, Jill, has really noticed a difference.
Jill says, “Lisa is happier, more settled and working at Tenovus gives her a focus each day. She is back meeting new people and has really got to grips with guidelines in place”.
In Lisa's words...
“My name is Lisa and I have been a volunteering for a charity shop in Neath. I have been working there for seven years, this makes me feel happy and independent and part of a team.
I attend regularly and I work from morning to lunch time. My work description is serving customers on the till with support from my support workers.
I enjoy interacting with the customers and I always have a happy smile for them. I’m a very outgoing person who likes a challenge and will keep myself busy in the shop. I like the company of the other staff and also like to pick up a good bargain when I see one, as I know this will go towards a good charity organisation which will benefit from this.”
“I am happy to return to work after a very long time because of the coronavirus outbreak. I had to shield for a long time, unable to go out and go to work which made me sad.
I knew I would return one day and now I have. I don’t go as much as before, as I now go Monday and Tuesday to get used to the environment again and to get used to the changes that have been put in place with the Government guidelines.
I met my new Manager and she is very kind and I am glad to be back.”
John, one of the individuals we support via our Independent Living Service, volunteers for Able Radio.
Able Radio is a media-based social enterprise, empowering people through creativity. Able offers high quality person-centred opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism.
In John's words...
How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been volunteering at different radio stations such as Radio PyF, Newport City Radio and currently Able Radio. I have been doing this since I was 12 years old. My current show goes out at 8.00 p.m every Wednesday on Able Radio.
How did you get into volunteering?
My Dad, David Dale was the Chairman of Radio PyF at Pen y Fal Hospital and he brought me into the studio. It means a lot to be able to follow in his footsteps as a radio DJ.
What does it mean to you to be volunteering at Able Radio?
It’s very important to me and I like to be as professional as I can when broadcasting.
How did it affect you when lockdown happened and your volunteering had to stop?
I felt very unhappy when I wasn’t broadcasting, I missed it very much.
We asked John’s Support Worker, Jonathan, what difference he had seen in John since he had returned to the radio station. It seems that his experience mirrors Lisa’s story.
Jonathan said, “John’s mood and general well-being had improved so much since being allowed to return to Able Radio. He did seem quite lost on times during lockdown and wasn’t taking care of himself as well as he normally does. Now it is nice to see him with a smile on his face and taking some pride in himself again.”
Volunteering benefits everyone...
We know of many more Pobl colleagues who volunteer, as well as lots of the individuals supported at Pobl services. We will be sharing more of these stories via social media this week in a bid to raise awareness of National Volunteers’ Week and celebrate the difference that these people make to our communities.