Volunteers' Week 2019: A Thank You
As Volunteers’ Week 2019 comes to a close, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the fantastic and vital work that our volunteers do, helping improve the lives of those living in poverty.
I first discovered the value of volunteering in my 20s, helping out at a drop-in centre for people living with HIV and organising events for the charity, especially around Pride and World AIDS Day. This gave me an incredible sense of being – a useful member of society – and certainly had a positive impact on my own wellbeing. Something Lauren discussed at the start of Volunteers’ Week in her piece about wellbeing, and what volunteering can do for you.
In fact, I have always strongly believed that volunteering is a two-way thing – of course, volunteers help charities such as Turn2us deliver their vital work and, in turn, serve to improve society as a whole. But it’s important that volunteers get as much out of the work they deliver as the people who benefit from it.
Without volunteering, I would probably never have moved into a career working in the charity sector, let alone become a Volunteer Manager. With this in mind, volunteers should never forget that we want them to succeed just as much as the initiatives they help to deliver. I think that our volunteer, Barbara, put this so well in her piece – just go for it!
Changing world of volunteering
The world is changing and so is the world of volunteering. We want volunteering to be as easy and accessible as possible for our volunteers. Along with more traditional roles, we now provide the opportunity for digital volunteering through our Connect project. This, as Lauren explained, enables volunteers to take part when and wherever they are, allowing volunteers the flexibility to help people claim their benefit entitlements whilst fitting in with their own busy lives. I strongly believe that as times change, so must we all. In the voluntary sector, we must be ready to adapt and evolve, so we can ensure we continue to fit in with people’s own lives - both those we help and the volunteers who provide that help.
However, just as much as we all need to adapt, be flexible and change with the times, there will always be the need for more traditional, vital volunteering roles, such as those involving meeting and helping people face-to-face. As Pratibha demonstrated whilst celebrating our incredible volunteer visitors, the difference our visitors have made, and continue to make, to those who receive vital grants from Turn2us and with whom they build relationships on the ground, is invaluable. They make a real, tangible difference to people’s lives which is so well demonstrated in the piece.
Support for our day-to-day work at the Turn2us office
Our day-to-day work here in our office is also enriched by the talents and skills of volunteers, helping us deliver our work efficiently through a variety of admin and research roles. It’s an absolute joy to have volunteers join our teams here at headquarters to support our work. And, just as importantly, to be able to provide them with a welcoming and supportive environment. One that allows them to gain new skills and build confidence, as one of our office volunteers explained about her experience in the Turn2us office.
Let’s not forget our dedicated Board of Trustees which provides such professional governance to our charity, giving us the benefit of their extensive experience in a non-executive capacity. Our Trustees do this on a voluntary basis too. We are so lucky to have the wide range of skills and experience on the Board that we have. This leadership and support for our work enables us to move forward, innovate and drive our fight against poverty. So our thanks go out to them for their unswerving support.
Volunteering in the community
As we look forward to the future, we are excited about developing and delivering our new community-based volunteering plan over the next few years. This will provide local communities of volunteers on the ground helping people in real need through a variety of volunteer-led roles and initiatives. It will also ensure we stay connected with them, not least through new and innovative technologies.
Volunteering in 2019
Volunteering remains a vital part of modern society and, as Joe explains, volunteering in 2019 is more important than ever. Not only do 68% of recent volunteers agree their volunteering helps them feel less isolated, but in this uncertain world, in uncertain times, there will always be those in real need who volunteers, across all ages and from all backgrounds, can support. If you haven’t thought of volunteering before, remember Barbara’s words from earlier and "just go for it!"
We feel proud to have been part of NCVO’s #VolunteersWeek, giving us the opportunity to showcase some of the vital and diverse work our volunteers do, highlighting the value and benefits of volunteering for all.
On behalf of everyone at Turn2us, I want to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers, old and new. We look forward to working with you over the coming months and years. Without you, we could not help as many people as we have done and will continue to do. So take a step back. Reflect on all your vital work. Know you’ve done some truly great things to enable change for good. Understand how much we appreciate and value all you do through being a Turn2us volunteer!
* NCVO is a membership organisation that promotes the voluntary sector and volunteering.