1st-7th: Volunteers' Week
Volunteers’ Week is the annual event in which we acknowledge and thank volunteers for the huge contribution they make in our communities.
The virus pandemic this year has made volunteering all the more important, with the need growing many fold almost overnight after the scale of the problem became known. The response of local people through informal mutual aid support groups as well as established organisations has been amazing and heart-warming.
The NHS volunteer scheme attracted more than 750,000 volunteers in the space of a few days. Volunteer Centres countrywide recorded an estimated 250,000 extra people between the lockdown starting and Easter. At the Thornbury Volunteer Centre — despite our offices being closed and having to work from home — we registered and referred more volunteers in the first three weeks than we would normally expect in six months.
The Thornbury area saw community-led groups spring up via social media with people offering to help their street or the wider community. The aid they have given to those self-isolating or at high risk has been immeasurable. Many have responded to calls to help out local care homes with vital supplies, residents’ prescriptions, or just a friendly voice at the end of a phone. Local churches and food banks have been working harder than ever.
Most new volunteers coming forward proved to be those prevented from going to work normally and who wanted to put something back while keeping themselves occupied. These new volunteers are much younger than our normal demographic. We hope that once the emergency is over many will continue to volunteer.
To all the new volunteers who have come forward over the past three months and to all those who volunteer regularly, you are the people who make our communities strong. Please accept our very grateful thanks.