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Online festival seeks to boost mental health and recruit more volunteers across Suffolk

Businesses, charities, neighbourhood groups and emergency services are to rally together to create a virtual initiative designed to celebrate the commitment to volunteering in Suffolk.

The county’s voluntary sector has been drastically hit by the pandemic, but the huge amount of opportunity and benefit in taking on volunteering roles cannot be underestimated and the roles are perhaps more vital than ever.

Suffolk Action Week is back with a fun-filled and packed programme for its second year despite the restrictions of the pandemic – running from Monday 5th October – organisations will deliver virtual talks, insights, Q&A sessions and updates about their volunteering opportunities.

The week’s activity will culminate in a dedicated and its first ever online Volunteering Festival, on Wednesday. The event will start with an original song about volunteering written by Jon Wright, from BBC Radio Suffolk. The festival will involve facebook live sessions, video stories, and music, with a different location feature every hour between 10am and 3pm.

Funmi Akinriboya, founder for BME Suffolk support group will also feature during the festival with a film to thank the group volunteers.

‘It’s a humbling experience for me and my team to serve our local communities during covid-19 crisis.  We still  carrying on, set-up  telephone support  systems to call  people on a regular basis who are going through  emotional  distress, mental  stress, vulnerable, shielding  and also the elderly with long term health problems within  BME  communities, Portuguese communities and wider communities.  Thanks to all our volunteers who are committed and passionate about seeing real life difference in people lives.  Thank you.’

Janet Perry, Volunteering Services Officer for Community Action Suffolk, says the week’s activity, and in particular, the Volunteering Festival come at a key time for Suffolk.

“Coming at a point when so many organisations are in need of more help, and so many individuals are looking to improve their skills and experiences in a bid to help them find a job – this really is a great time for us to be hosting a Volunteering Festival,” she said.

“Covid has presented so many challenges for the voluntary sector, and part of that is the loss of regular volunteering support. Many people volunteered during lockdown or put themselves forward to volunteer, today there are many charities that would love to hear from them. Charities are reviewing how they are working with volunteers, to provide flexible and virtual roles.  

“Our hope is that we can engage more people from across Suffolk who may never have considered volunteering previously, but now realise it could be hugely beneficial in helping them gain more skills, connections and confidence – all of which help people improve their mental health, and become more attractive for work roles. We also want to reach those that have offered to volunteer previously but, for whatever reason, were unable to secure the right one for them.”

Involved in the week of activity, are such organisations as Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Community Foundation, St Elizabeth Hospice, Zest, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, Emmaus, Suffolk Family Carers,  East Suffolk Greenprint Forum, Lowestoft & Kessingland Community Enablers, Family First, Suffolk Sight, Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, Suffolk Archives, Re-Utilise, Mendlesham Scout Group, Citizen Advice Mid Suffolk.

The complete Suffolk Action Week Schedule includes:

5th Mon – Trusteeship

6pm In Conversation: Becoming a Young Trustee (With Hannah & Anthony)

7pm Find out more: Plastic Action Champion (East Suffolk Greenprint Forum).

6th Tuesday – Suffolk Good Neighbours & Community Support Groups

9am – Virtual Coffee Morning with Jane (community group volunteers)

2pm  ‘Emergency Response & Mutual Aid to Good Neighbours Network !’ Facebook Live visit   @GNS FB page 

7th Weds – Volunteering Festival 2020 (10am – 3pm) @volunteersuffolk Facebook page

8th Thursday – Volunteer Pathways

11am Volunteer pathways – routes to your next job. Facebook live with Faye.  Visit Facebook @volunteersuffolk

Employer Supported Volunteering information session for Suffolk County Council staff

7pm:Induction into the role of Plastic Action Champion (East Suffolk Greenprint Forum)

9th Friday – Active Volunteering

11am : Virtual Volunteering Coffee Morning with St Elizabeth Hospice

1.30pm : Virtual Volunteering Coffee Afternoon with Family First

All events and opportunities can be accessed online. Prior booking can be completed by going to the Volunteer Suffolk’s Facebook page, or by emailing Janet.perry@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk.