In support of Volunteers’ Week 2017, we hear from some of the volunteer managers and coordinators in Suffolk who tell us how important volunteers are!
Christina is volunteer manager at Suffolk Mind based in Hadleigh and Ipswich.
She said: “When I first moved to Bury St Edmunds I was looking for a way to meet new people and connect with my community and spotted an advert in Suffolk Mind who were looking for a volunteer receptionist.
“I started doing one day a week for six hours and then increased this to include some admin and finance. Now I coordinate all the volunteers for the organisation.
“Our telephone number at Suffolk Mind is managed by volunteers and so this aspect of the charity is entirely reliant on them.
“Volunteering is not entirely altruistic though. It’s a two-way thing.
“It benefits the organisations and charities but it’s also hugely rewarding for the volunteer.”
Ian has been a volunteer with the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen in Ipswich for almost 25 years and now coordinates the whole operation.
He now has around 150 volunteers who take turns to go out in the town each night to hand out food, soup, coffee and teas to the homeless and needy.
He said: “I am a home carer for my wife and volunteer every evening. It allows me to reach some of the most deprived, unhappy and vulnerable people in my community.
“Our operation helps up to 50 people every single night. People who have no home, low income, have mental health issues, drug and drink dependency or are simply lonely.
“We wouldn’t be able to run without volunteers. They not only give up their time, they supply all food and tea and coffee.”
Rosalind works for The Shed, a community garden in Ipswich which promotes horticultural therapy and totally relies on volunteers.
She said: “We have a 1.5-acre site where we run our project which is entirely dependent on the support of our 10 volunteers.
“We have done a huge amount in a short time but we need more help to get to our goal which is to create a safe garden which can be a community haven.
“We will need volunteers then to work the garden and can offer the facility to schools and charities to use.
“We want it to provide horticultural therapy to people to get them out of the house, making friends and feeling less lonely and isolated. We want to help them connect and gardening is an excellent way to do this.”
Hannah manages the volunteers helping to build a replica of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds out of 200,000 Lego bricks.
The project aims to raise money for a youth project and for maintenance of the historic building.
“Volunteering can be a huge amount of fun and that’s precisely what our project is all about.
“We already have 45 volunteers on board who relish the opportunity to revisit that childhood passion for Lego and are thoroughly enjoying being part of something extraordinary.
“The time these volunteers are putting in will result in a huge amount of money that will go to help hundreds of people in our community.”
All organisations featured advertise volunteer roles on Volunteer Suffolk. For more information visit www.volunteersuffolk.org.uk