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Volunteers contribute a staggering £22.6bn to the UK economy with 38% of the UK population volunteering at least once a year.
Third sector organisations which are often challenged with funding and staffing, rely heavily on dedicated and passionate volunteers to maintain the services they provide to the local community. Volunteers contribute a staggering £22.6bn to the UK economy with 38% of the UK population volunteer at least once a year.
During Volunteers’ Week this June, the Leeds Volunteer Managers’ Network organised a Volunteer Recruitment Fair to introduce the people of Leeds to the many valuable organisations that are currently in need of volunteers.
Gary Blake, Supporting Organisations' Manager at Voluntary Action Leeds and facilitator of the Volunteer Mangers’ Network said: “The organisations that attended the Volunteer Recruitment Fair wanted an opportunity to showcase the diverse range of volunteering opportunities available in Leeds and to talk to potential volunteers about these opportunities. We were overwhelmed with the great turn out as more than 70 different organisations booked stalls at the event and the public were really engaged.”
We spoke to some of organisations in attendance to find out why they think volunteering is so important. Karen Burgon, Project Director of Leeds North and West Foodbank, had a stall at the event and was originally a volunteer herself. Before accepting a paid role at Leeds North and West Foodbank, she volunteered with the organisation for three years. She gave some great insight as to why people might choose to volunteer. Karen said: “Volunteering can have advantages for a lot of different reasons. Currently, we have a lot of people who are retired, some of whom would be quite isolated if they didn’t come out and do some volunteering and they get to meet some other people. We get a lot of students wanting to volunteer and I think it’s important to introduce the younger generation to volunteering and show them that they can be a force for good.”
Tom Armstrong is the Service Development Lead for Richmond Hill Elderly Action and understands the importance of continuing social activities into later life.
“Richmond Hill Elderly Action provides daily activities and support service and trips. Everything is designed to reduce social isolation. It’s important to get people out of the house and active, so they can have a conversation with another human being. We’ve got bingo and biscuits. What more do you want in life!”, Tom Said.
Isla, who volunteers at the same organisation said: “I come in on a Monday night for a couple of hours to ring people for a chat, just to see how they’re doing. I love it. It’s only two hours of your week and you’re making someone else’s day.”
Zeba Khan, who is the Volunteer and Peer Support Co-Ordinator at Touchstone, spoke about how there is a mutual benefit to both the volunteer and the organisation. She said: “Volunteering is brilliant for the volunteer and obviously it increases our capacity. We’re in the third sector and we can’t do it without our volunteers. We’re looking for people with lived experiences that have perhaps had a bad time. We turn things around. We develop them, we add confidence, we train them and more often than not, we achieve people reemploying and getting back into the working life and who really support the community of Leeds.”
Adding to this point, Craig Mckenna, who is the Volunteer Manager at Health Watch and is part of the steering group for the Volunteer Manager’s Network said: “The one thing we pride ourselves on is something we call ‘give and gain’. Volunteers are giving their time and we try and give something in return, so they get a good positive volunteer experience from us and effectively we want to make health and social care services better for all.”
Volunteer Manager at Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Sarah Rogers, discussed how vital being on the steering group for the Volunteer Managers’ Network has been. She said: “It’s been an opportunity to have an oversight on volunteering across the city and that’s amazing to see volunteering develop from the time that I’ve been involved in the Volunteer Managers’ Network. Being able to support other volunteer managers and give them the advice and encouragement they need is great. The support that we get from Voluntary Action Leeds to have the Volunteer Managers’ Network meetings and to being able to coordinate the steering group is a real privilege.”
To speak with our team about volunteering and finding a role that suits you, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a volunteer manager or work for an organisation that recruits volunteers, find out more about the Volunteer Managers’ Network — https://doinggoodleeds.org.uk/volunteer-managers-network.html or email email@example.com