Flexi-volunteering – everyone can do it
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In Northamptonshire there are already thousands of volunteers helping their local communities whether it’s the Northants Litter Wombles keeping the county clean and green or drivers for community transport schemes supporting vulnerable residents to get to medical appointments.' Life's most persistent and urgent question is: "What are you doing for others?" ' - Martin Luther King. That’s the favourite quote of Rebecca Caswell-Fox, CEO for KidsAid, a local charity supporting trauma therapy for children, young people and families and which relies on 10 volunteers to support their services and which Rebecca says that they simply couldn’t do without.
Volunteering comes in many shapes and forms. According to Northamptonshire Carers, a local countywide charity providing services for local carers, highlight that one in ten of us in our county are voluntarily caring for a family member or friend. As CEO Mark Major on Northamptonshire Carers states: ‘Carers are an invisible army performing heroics everyday. Carers and young carers who look after someone in their family with a long term health condition, mental or physical ill health, dementia or who are elderly and frail are a huge and vital community in Northamptonshire, helping to keep people in their own homes and preventing Health and Social Care from being overwhelmed, but they need good support and services to help them especially as Carers are more likely than the general population to suffer ill health themselves. Some great work has happened in Northamptonshire, and we are all working hard together to do more.’
Many of us became volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic whether it was through providing shopping services, food aid, a car lift to local medical agencies or simply keeping someone company online or by phone. But it doesn’t have to be practical hands-on support that you can provide as a volunteer, in fact, many local community groups and charities are looking for management committee members and trustees to help provide support with good governance.
There are many benefits to volunteering too: helping residents get back into work through work experience, building skills and expertise, making new friends and new social networks, developing confidence, reducing social isolation and loneliness, helping good health and wellbeing, giving back through a sense of public service and creating a sense of civic pride.
It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, you can be a flexi-volunteer which means supporting a local cause as and when you have the time. Many community groups and charities would welcome this part-time offer whether it be to help fundraise, support an event or promote their services. In return training and support is provided.
Northamptonshire’s VCSE Assembly, an organisation that represents an array of local volunteer groups and charities, is keen to raise the profile of the local charitable sector and its Chair Miranda Wixon DL has this to say: ‘There is a volunteer in everyone and giving an act of kindness to another human is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. Has a stranger ever paid for a cup of coffee for you or picked up a lost glove and handed it in? Volunteering can be reading with a child, driving someone to an appointment, clearing the leaves on a path for wheelchairs and push chairs, taking in the bins after the collectors have been or helping in a charity. These are just some of the ways people give their time.’
But where to start? Opportunities are advertised on Volunteer Passport: volunteerpassport.co.uk, you can also contact your local Parish or Town Council or local councillor. The Lewis Foundation which supports adults with a cancer diagnosis for example are currently looking for volunteers to help support their new shop in the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton. You can pop in and find out more or visit their website: www.thelewisfoundation.co.uk. By volunteering you may not only make a difference to someone else’s life and your local community but also a difference in your own.