This week marks Volunteers’ Week and it is a time when we hear about some of the fabulous volunteers that support charities and non-profit organisations up and down the country. Of course many of these volunteers support these organisations throughout the whole year and each and every day those that are blessed with the help of volunteers are grateful for their actions. However, it seems only right that there is a week dedicated to thanking anyone who volunteers their time to help.
According to the NVCO, a survey carried out in 2012-13 estimates that an amazing 23.1 million people across the UK volunteer their time at least once a year. At the same time there was a reported 63.7 million people living across the UK, that’s more than 36% of people going out and volunteering in their communities.
Outside of work I am a school governor which is a voluntary role. A group of volunteers including myself meet each term and look at various aspects of our school’s performance, working with the headmaster to ensure the school is providing good quality education. As volunteers, school governing bodies hold a fair amount of decision-making power particularly concerning the financial and strategic leadership of the school they govern. These volunteers can come from all walks of life and carry varying degrees of experience and expertise, but there is one thing all school governors have in common: their wish to make a positive contribution to education.
This wish to make a positive contribution of some sort is something that I think rings true amongst volunteers wherever they are helping.
My role at the National Youth Agency is to support employees from O2 and Capita who want to give some of their time either on a volunteering basis or as part of an employer funded programme. Over the past four years I have helped thousands of employees to go out and support organisations up and down the country.
One thing that has been echoed by each organisation that has received assistance from our volunteers is the value they place on the help that volunteers give. Positive feedback is great to hear and it boosts employee morale. This can sometimes result in employees choosing to give more time to a certain cause. In some cases I have even been told that, without the help they received, some organisations may not still be operating.
Gains through volunteering are not all one-sided though. I hear from a lot of volunteers who have benefitted greatly on a personal level from giving their time to help organisations and many develop skills they didn’t even realise they had in them. How great is it that something so brilliantly simple can benefit so many people?
So, back to the fact that it is Volunteers Week. My thanks go out to anyone who takes part in volunteering. Your time and input is valued, possibly more than you even know. To those of you who don’t volunteer yet why not see if you can give some time to make a positive contribution. Next year you could be part of the 23.1 million that help make a difference. Thank you all.