Volunteers who give up their time to make a real difference to the lives of others will be recognised during a national event next week.
Communities across the country will be thanking volunteers for the vital roles they play during Volunteers Week, running from Monday to Sunday.
Central to the work of countless organisations, volunteers continue to be a valuable asset to many, helping out at everything from charities and schools to sports clubs, hospitals, libraries and more.
One charity which says it simply could not do without the help it receives from volunteers is West Norfolk Carers (WNC), which provides support and advice to local carers to help strengthen their coping abilities, self esteem and confidence, and also gives them a much-needed break from their caring responsibilities.
Emma Kandjou, a youth project worker at WNC, said: “Volunteers make a huge difference to a small charity like us, they are central to the work we do – if we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to provide our services to as many carers as we do currently.”
One of the charity’s dedicated volunteers is Sue Renwick, who came across youngsters who had taken on extra caring responsibilities during her career as a teacher.
Seeing some of the challenges they faced is partly what made her want to become a volunteer for WNC.
She said: “Since volunteering, I have realised how little I actually did understand about their daily lives and how many of these incredible young people keep their caring roles hidden.”
Sue helps out at the charity’s social afternoons and evenings. Sometimes it involves taking youngsters on outings to places such as a roller skating rink, and other times they hold activities such as their recent Mad Science evening.
“At other times we just offer a time to chill-out and play games or have a chat purely to give a break from their extra responsibilities,” she said.
“All of these activities require the support of volunteers, and I am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful service.”
Sue has also visited local high schools to deliver assemblies about young carers and was also invited to Lynn’s College of West Anglia during a recent training day to give presentations to its staff.
She said: “As a volunteer, I get a great deal of satisfaction out of being with the young people. They are lively, caring and very rarely display any kind of self-pity – truly they are inspirational.
“I hope that, by giving a bit of my time, I am helping to make life just a tiny bit easier for our young carers.”
Emma said other volunteers get involved in everything from putting newsletters in envelopes and helping out at carer’s meetings to assisting on outings. She said: “It is great to have a mix of volunteers who are able to give time on a regular basis or on an ad-hoc basis. All help is invaluable, no-matter how much time is given.
“Volunteering is a great way to do something really meaningful – it is a way to give something back and gives you an opportunity to benefit from new experiences, make friends, gain skills and have fun.”
For more info on WNC email: info@westnorfolk carers.org.uk, call 01553 768155 or check out its opportunities on www.do-it.org
The charity is also registered with SPICE, which means volunteers can earn one time credit for every hour volunteered. These can be used to access events, training and leisure services such as the theatre, bowling or swimming.