Cheltenham
The Cheltonian > Articles

Sharing is caring

With National Volunteers’ Week nearly upon us Hannah Wright gives tips on how you can get involved.

What motivates people to volunteer? One Elizabeth Andrew said, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” The key is to do something you care about, and utilise your skills and passions.

Volunteers’ Week (1st to 7th June) is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. Cheltenham Partnership is preparing to make June a whole month of promoting volunteering in the borough, and celebrating the contribution it makes to the town. People who enjoy volunteering for charities or in their local communities are being asked to share their experiences as part of the awareness month, and their studies will be published throughout the month,which will build up to a whole day’s celebration in the High Street on Saturday 20th June, led by Cheltenham Civic Society.

Many people would not even identify themselves as volunteers, and so the value of all the unpaid work people put into their communities is difficult to measure. Some organisations keep a log of voluntary hours. County Community Projects’ voluntary hours add up to the value of more than £250,000 per year.

The University of Gloucestershire has set itself a target of 18,000 student and staff volunteer hours by the end of the academic year. There are some organisations which act as volunteer brokers, matching the skills set of the volunteers to roles available. Volunteering Gloucestershire is the main local broker, and you can browse online or arrange to meet staff face to face. Roles can be applied for just like jobs, and can really further a CV and open new doors, or give an insight into a totally new career path. Some involve accredited training and qualifications. A quick search via volunteerglos website shows a wide and diverse range of opportunities, including charity shop and reception work, youth work, befriending, concert support, conservation, administration, gardening, music and designing.

Fair shares community time-bank uses a format which awards credits for volunteering hours, which can be redeemed by receiving help in other ways. For example, somebody who is good with computers could spend an hour helping one person set up theirs, and in return, have somebody from the time-bank who enjoys gardening, spend an hour on their garden.

A very worthwhile, one-off volunteer opportunity on the horizon is the annual Midsummer Fiesta in Montpellier; the biggest not for profit event in the borough, which takes place on 4th July. There will be more on that next time, but we are currently recruiting the team for this year.

If you would like to share your experiences for volunteering month or are interested in being part of the Midsummer Fiesta team, email Hannah.wright@cheltenham.gov.uk or call 01242 775156.