Volunteer’s Week 2021 – Celebrating ‘The Year of the Volunteer’
Volunteer’s Week is a UK wide campaign now in its’ 37th year. Its’ primary objective is to recognise, celebrate and say thank you to the thousands of volunteers across the UK.
It is also a great opportunity to raise the profiles of some of the great volunteers we have here at Community360 (C360) and to increase participation in volunteering
Volunteers are the unsung heroes in our communities, who have worked tirelessly to support our neighbourhoods, charities, the NHS and local authorities, and let us not forget each other. The work of volunteers supporting the vaccine rollout programme has been paramount this year and is another example of the way many people have stepped up to do their bit to support others during the pandemic.
It could be said that volunteering helps the volunteers. How? Well, it gives them a sense of purpose, belonging, and a connection to their local community. It has helped those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own or been furloughed to feel that they matter, that they are ‘doing a good job.’ fulfilled and able to have a sense of pride. They are connected to local people in their local place which evidence tells us is of high importance to them when they offer their time to volunteer.
Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360 said: “I want to say from the bottom of my heart, a huge thank you to our wonderful army of volunteers. The past 18 months have been an immense challenge. The willingness of so many to step forward and volunteer must be seen by organisations to see volunteers as more than a resource or to be there to ‘just help out.’
She added: “What we should all be doing now is making sure we retain our volunteers. the role of the volunteer should be held in the highest esteem not only for supporting the vaccine sites, but for all the other ways they have helped too. No longer should the words ‘I’m just a volunteer’ be heard, because let us be honest, what would we have done without them!”
“Importantly we need to consider the balance between people and services in need of volunteers and the needs of volunteers themselves, and to ensure that we invest in capacity, capability and flexibility to incorporate those needs in our communities as we seek to find our way forward post-Covid-19. Often volunteers are referred to as “added value” in Statutory Commissioning Contracts – that has to change, for C360 they are recognised as our heartbeat and treated as such, which is why we are proud to have worked with over 800+ this last year.”
Since January 2021, 118 C360 volunteers have supported 35,790 people have their vaccine at the Primary Care Centre in Colchester. In addition, since February 2021, C360 volunteers have provided 750 hours of their time to support 22,700 people to get their vaccine across 5 Colchester GP surgery sites. In addition, over 4939 welfare calls and nearly 5240 befriending calls were made, with volunteers also helping with essential tasks for the most vulnerable people in Colchester and Braintree, supporting a range of tasks including collecting and delivering essential medicines and food. Their home from hospital services which is based at Colchester General Hospital also has over 10 volunteers, helping patients return safely home from their appointments and visits.
In Braintree, Notley High School and Alec Hunter Academy were supported with 19 volunteers to complete the Lateral Flow Testing of students over a 2-week period. At Notley High School, over 1400 students were tested 3 times. Volunteers also continue to support 2 vaccination sites in Braintree, Fern House Surgery and St Michael’s Hospital. During the school holidays, volunteers have assisted in various ways such as supporting with the distribution of 213 food parcels and 100 additional food packs to families in the February half term, and the registering of families for the Easter Holiday Activities.