A Thank You to Volunteers – Volunteers Week 2023

National Volunteers Week, supported by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) takes place in the first week of June each year (1st-7th). It is an opportunity to show our appreciation, thanks and support to the volunteers who work tirelessly for our local communities.

For the past three years, the VSI Alliance has produced an enamel pin badge, designed by a local volunteer to show our admiration and thank you to each of the local voluntary organisations across Calderdale and their hard-working volunteers who give their heartfelt kindness back to their community each and every year.

Our first badge, designed in 2021 by local volunteer Georgia, a then 17-year-old illustrator, was a lantern concept, a reminder of how volunteers are the ‘shining lights’ within their communities.

Last year our thanks went to Shawn, another one of Calderdale’s own volunteers, who produced a classic and apt pocket watch to represent the time and effort our volunteers give to make Calderdale our home.

This year, Joy Edwards, a 73-year-old volunteer at Friends of Sowerby Bridge Railway Station and Memory Lane Café, generously designed our badge.

Joy, who resides in Sowerby Bridge, had previously been a Nurse in the NHS for 50 years and after sadly losing her husband to cancer found herself wanting to give back to her community and still having that urge to care for those in need.

When I spoke with Joy about volunteering she said:

“It’s more about continuing to care… it’s not just the clients, but the other volunteers that make it, you care about everyone. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives.”

This is exactly where the inspiration for this year’s design came from, the 2023 badge features two figures reaching across a bridge, highlighting how our volunteers connect communities and bring people closer together.

“I think giving a bit of yourself to the community can give you a bit of a boost even if you don’t let anyone know you’re doing it, it’s always really rewarding. One of the passengers at the station said the garden and the planters make Sowerby Bridge a destination rather than a station, the public is always grateful for what we do and we quite enjoy making it nice.”

However, volunteering doesn’t come without a challenge…Joy reflected on the most pressing issue currently on the minds of those who rely on the help of others, finding more volunteers.

“Getting more volunteers is always difficult, finding you’re the only one there can be challenging, it is hard.”

The most recent Community Life Survey produced by the Government found that In 2021/22, 27% of respondents reported taking part in formal volunteering at least once in the last year (approximately 12 million people in England). This participation rate is the lowest recorded by the survey since it began in 2013.

Although Joy feels certain that events such as The Big Help Out that took place over the Coronation weekend (Monday 8th May) will help aid the effort nationally into the future and beyond, and that having Volunteers Week is a brilliant opportunity to show gratitude and recognition to those who selflessly strive to make our communities a better place to live.

Ahead of National Volunteers Week VSI Alliance has launched The Calderdale Volunteering Pledge to encourage all of us to do a little, give a little and offer a little.
There are many ways we can all get involved to help support our local community – and by helping our community we contribute to making Calderdale a happier, healthier place for everyone.

You can sign the pledge on the VSI Alliance website here.

We give our sincerest thanks to all volunteers across the borough and nation for all they do in their efforts to give back and support our sector throughout challenging times. Your willingness and dedication to support and uplift others is inspiring and valued. Thank you.

Do you or your organisation have inspiring stories that need to be heard? If so, the Community Journalist is eager to listen and share your stories!

Contact Jordan at jordan.baker@cvac.org.uk

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