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Volunteers so important to West Norfolk community

In his weekly column, North West Norfolk MP James Wild discusses volunteering...

Volunteers are a vital part of our community so earlier this week I was pleased to open the Volunteering Wellfest in Lynn. This was an opportunity to say a huge thank you to volunteers across health and care in Norfolk and Waveney who make a real difference to the lives of people in our hospitals and across our community and to encourage more people to join them.

One of the strengths of West Norfolk is the willingness of people to help others and across Norfolk and Waveney thousands of people give up their time every week to help others. I’m still struck by the camaraderie I experienced when I joined many others to volunteer in the vaccine centres during the pandemic and am pleased that scheme has now evolved into NHS and Care Volunteer Responders.

Jim Tripp, pictured here receiving an award from Gary Lineker, has volunteered at QEH for 26 years (Picture: QEH)
Jim Tripp, pictured here receiving an award from Gary Lineker, has volunteered at QEH for 26 years (Picture: QEH)

What do you think volunteering involves? Many people might think it is about a cup of tea, a biscuit, and a chat. That is an important role but one of the things that is perhaps surprising is the range of volunteering roles on offer.

As MP for North West Norfolk, I’ve had the pleasure to work with many groups represented at the event such as QEH, Tapping House, West Norfolk Befriending, and King’s Lynn Samaritans – indeed I’ve run the London Marathon to raise funds for some of them. In addition, I learned more about Vision Norfolk helping visually impaired people, the Matthew Project helping people with alcohol and drug issues, and others.

In doing so I’ve heard about the variety of opportunities available. As a regular visitor to QEH, for example, I know from the welcome at the front desk, to people helping the pharmacy, as well as support for cancer patients, there are a wide number of voluntary roles at the hospital. At this week’s event it was a pleasure to meet Jim Tripp, QEH’s Volunteer of the Year, who has racked up 25 years’ service.

But it’s not just about the NHS. When I recently visited Tapping House I spoke to a long-serving volunteer about the voluntary bereavement services available to families and the training volunteers receive. Helping tackle loneliness is very important in our rural area and West Norfolk Befriending volunteers do a brilliant job. There are many other examples of caring, mental health, and helping the elderly. While rewarding in their own right these roles are also helpful in developing skills and experience when people are moving into work or changing careers.

Some groups at the event are also involved with Norfolk County Council’s £13.8million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households with costs including energy, food, and transport as well as other support. It is working with the borough council, voluntary groups and the public sector to implement a range of support measures. If you need some help then check what support you might be able to get www.norfolk.gov.uk/costofliving

Our area is privileged that so many people volunteer and the purpose of the Wellfest was to encourage others to join them. If you are interested in what roles might be available take a look at www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

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