A Time to Say Thank You: Community First Celebrates Volunteers’ Week 2021
Community First is celebrating the difference volunteers make to our charity, as well as the many organisations we support including village halls, community buildings, youth services, Link Schemes and community transport groups. All of these vital services make a real difference for people across Wiltshire and Swindon and none of this work would be possible without the valuable contribution of volunteers.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for all their time and dedication during this year’s Volunteers’ Week, which runs from 1-7 June.
For Community First, Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thanks. It goes without saying that volunteers have played a key role in the pandemic response locally. During an exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life across Wiltshire and Swindon have taken the time to volunteer and make a huge difference to their communities – just as they do every year. This is a time for us to come together and thank all volunteers for their invaluable contribution.
A lot has changed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and volunteers have adapted to deliver support and services under rapidly changing circumstances. We caught up with some of our teams to hear about the role volunteers play in delivering important services for local people, as well as to say thank you to all of the individual volunteers supporting services including village halls and community buildings, Link Schemes, community minibus groups and young people who have supported Youth Action Wiltshire as Young Leaders and Young Ambassadors.
On behalf of Community First, thank you so much for all that you do for the people and places we support and champion across the county.
A Time to Say Thank You
Some of the lovely thank you messages from our teams and from groups and organisations we support can be found below.
“This year has been extremely turbulent with the Covid-19 pandemic for the Amesbury Boscombe Down Link Scheme. Many of our volunteers were reluctantly placed in isolation during the CoVid-19 crisis, and hence they had to withdraw their availability. Some have even hung up their hats and decided to totally withdraw from volunteering with the Scheme altogether. Nevertheless, four of us slightly younger ones managed to keep our flag flying and continued to provide a much-valued service to our community.
We elected to join forces with the Amesbury Covid-19 Volunteers Hub, a voluntary Hub set up by the local council to provide assistance to the local community, who were isolating/sheltering by establishing a list of volunteers who would do their shopping, provide some social interaction and deliver prescriptions. We offered our services to deliver these prescriptions to the local community while maintaining our primary task of ensuring that our clients had transport to and from their medical appointments.
The reduction in health and community services led to an overall drop in demand throughout the town to just 600 tasks, which involved driving 11,108 miles. This was the lowest level since our second year of operation but within these tasks we delivered 2,100 prescriptions to people’s homes during the lockdown a magnificent effort by all of you.”
Steve – Chair of Amesbury & Boscome Down link
Volunteer with your local Link Scheme
Could you spare some time to volunteer with your local Link Scheme? If you would like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with Link, please email: email@example.com or telephone: 01380 722 241
Village Halls and Community Buildings
All through the pandemic, the work of volunteers for the Shrewton Recreational Charity has been unceasing! The development of the Community Garden has been the most dramatic and visible with many people involved in clearing the ground – an immense task taking place in all weathers. Less visible but essential have been the grant applications, virtual meetings and planning the layout. Volunteers at a clean-up day helped remove a lot of accumulated litter and some household goods that were fly tipped were also disposed of.
While the use of the Hall has been disrupted, work still continued with risk assessments written and revised, all kinds of sanitising and cleaning items bought and made ready for use, some being fixed in place with signage and QR codes posted too. Looking after the finances and paying for services and materials for all areas is yet another aspect of the work our volunteers have covered.
Meetings of the charity committee also continued virtually, planning for the day we can be fully open with thoughts for the future about installing WiFi and CCTV. Clearly, they all need to be thanked!
Shrewton Village Hall and Recreation Grounds
Reflecting on life as we come out of Lockdown, I am struck by our village’s spirit of community which has manifested itself during that time : the group that shopped and delivered essential supplies to the aged and vulnerable, the volunteers who helped when blood was donated and on polling day at the elections. Keeping the village hall clean was vital which Jackie and Tina not only carried out admirably but with such a positive spirit. And we should not forget the silent contributors: Nigel who, at the drop of a hat, sorted out the radiators without charge so there was heating when blood was being donated, Richard who managed to remain sane whilst trawling through and making sense of the Covid regulations and countless others who, without thanks or reward, just quietly and efficiently see and do what needs to be done.
Figheldean Village Hall
Volunteer with your local village hall or community building
Community First supports village halls in Wiltshire and Swindon through the Wiltshire Village Halls Association. Village halls and community buildings are important local meeting spaces for communities, particularly in rural areas. Most village halls and community buildings are charities and are almost exclusively run by volunteers.
Many halls and buildings are looking for volunteers to get involved. If you would like to find out more about volunteering with your local hall, please visit the WVHA website to find contact details for the hall nearest your location.
Youth Action Wiltshire
Over the past year our amazing Volunteer Ambassadors and Young Leaders have been a vital support in helping us deliver our much-needed Covid Support groups for the young people who really needed that respite, engagement and support. Having attended numerous activity days, it enabled our team of staff to give that valuable time to each young person whose been able to join us. A chance to check in, talk to them about the challenges the pandemic has brought that young person. Our Volunteer Ambassadors and Young leaders are highly skilled in forming bonds with the young people who attend our projects, and in the depths of the pandemic they created fun interactive webinars which they run every Friday to keep that link while we weren’t able to get out and about.
You’ve been amazing, so you deserve a big thank you from all the staff at Youth Action Wiltshire.
If you would like to support our work with young people in Wiltshire, please consider visiting our fundraising page with information about events and other activities.
Support Youth Action Wiltshire
Youth Action Wiltshire is the national award winning youth work arm of Community First. Services and support for young people include Wiltshire Young Carers Service, Splash, Project Inspire, youth club support, youth volunteering and support for young victims of crime. Youth Action Wiltshire helps young people get involved in volunteering and develop leadership skills through our Young Leaders and Ambassadors programmes as well as gaining skills and accreditation.
I would like to say thank you to the volunteers at Cancer Support Salisbury who have tirelessly fought to ensure that people affected by cancer continue to receive support. Moving to delivering sessions on zoom wasn’t easy but Rachel, Robert and the rest of the team have made sure that people still have a friendly face to talk to, and even to access complimentary therapies.
For a group run completely by volunteers they have not stopped at all; only grown more (Achieving charity status) welcomed more volunteers and raised funds to keep going. I know that the people you support are truly grateful for this and I am always inspired by the tenacity of you all.
Cancer is affecting so many of us and it makes me feel hopeful to see grassroots groups like this one fighting to make sure they receive support.
Alex Neale, Senior Community Development Officer
Cancer Support Salisbury are always looking for new volunteers. If you would like to support this brilliant group, please get in touch with Alex (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Volunteering in Wiltshire
Would you like to get involved in volunteering? There are many charities, groups and organisations in Wiltshire who are looking for new volunteers! You can register for a free volunteer connect profile here on our website and start searching for volunteering roles today. Please visit our Volunteering page for more information.