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Volunteers’ Week 2021!

Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thanks for the contribution thousands of people make across Suffolk through volunteering.  

There are all sorts of ways you can get involved! How are you celebrating and thanking volunteers this year?  

One great way to celebrate is to post on social media! Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtags #VolunteersWeek and #VolunteerSuffolk, for us to share your celebrations and posts!

We’ll also be launching a new volunteering survey for Suffolk! This will help us understand the impact of volunteering in Suffolk communities and plan for the future. The survey will ask Suffolk residents why they may or may not volunteer.

The Week’s events

TUESDAY 1 JUNE: VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK LAUNCH – A TIME TO SAY THANKS

Welcome to the launch of Volunteers’ Week! Today’s theme is ‘A Time To Say Thanks’. Here are Jess and Jane from Suffolk Family Carers doing just that – explaining why volunteers are so valuable to the Young People’s Service.

Meanwhile, performing arts organisation CTC have created a powerful film to thank volunteers:

WEDNESDAY 2 JUNE: POWER OF YOUTH DAY

The Power of Youth Day is an annual celebration of the contributions children and young people make to society through volunteering and social action. 

Feel inspired by Vacha’s story at St Elizabeth Hospice, listen to Sam Carrington talk about why he became a Young Shadowing Trustee with Suffolk Family Carers, or check out St Elizabeth Hospice’s film celebrating the power of youth volunteering:

THURSDAY 3 JUNE: EMPLOYER SUPPORTED AND SKILLED VOLUNTEERING DAY

On 3 June, we want to recognise the continued contributions of skilled and employer-supported volunteers by showcasing their impact around the UK.

You can listen to Nicole from Yorkshire Building Society reflecting on their Employer Supported Volunteering programme, or watch her say thanks to all the volunteers at YBS who have contributed over 2,000 volunteer hours in 2020:

FRIDAY 4 JUNE: VOLUNTEER VOICES

Friday of Volunteers’ Week is focusing on volunteer voices! We’re focusing on two organisations involving volunteers. Hear the stories from volunteers at Suffolk Family Carers volunteers and Your Local Pantry, Kirkley. 

Fran and Talk & Support at Suffolk Family Carers:

Kelsi and Fran at Suffolk Family Carers:

Your Local Pantry, Kirkley:

Volunteers from Kirkley, Suffolk are leading the way to create a long-term solution to food poverty.

Your Local Pantry is a network of community food stores, creating a sustainable and long-term solution to food poverty and helping the UK save money on their food bills. 

The first Your Local Pantry in Suffolk opened on 1st December 2020, in Kirkley Church Hall, Kirkley, Lowestoft. Kirkley is one of the most deprived areas in the UK and food poverty and inequality are experienced by many. 

For a small weekly subscription of £3.50, members of this pantry will be able to buy food, including fresh fruit and vegetables and store cupboard favourites, to the value of £15, £20 or more. Membership is open to anyone who finds by the time they have paid all their household bills there is little left over for a weekly shop and local families are strongly encouraged to join.  

The Pantry is run by volunteers, some of them are also members. They help check members in, manage payments, keep the pantry stocked and make sure all the food is fresh and ready for members.  

Volunteers help the pantry increase the impact in the local community, pick up new skills and experience and help the community feel that Kirkley is a good place to live. 

Kirkley Pantry has more than 120 household members and 15 trained volunteers. The next step will be for a Community Cafe to open as soon as lock-down restrictions ease, providing a safe, welcoming space to have tea/coffee and a snack, catch up with friends or be signposted to support agencies. 

Without our volunteers, Kirkley Pantry would not have opened or be available to our members, so thank you.  

William (‘Bill’), who volunteers at Your Local Pantry Kirkley:

Jan, Volunteer Manager at Your Local Pantry Kirkley:

SATURDAY 5 JUNE: ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION DAY

To coincide with World Environment Day, we are focusing on all the environmental volunteering that takes place every day.

In this short film, James Mallinder, Deben Ward member at East Suffolk and Cabinet Member for the Environment, is thanking volunteers for their contribution to conservation and the environment and highlighting the importance of working together.

SUNDAY 6 JUNE: THE BIG LUNCH

The Big Lunch is your chance to celebrate community connections and get to know one another a little better.  Join in online, on your doorstep, or over the fence.  It’s on. 

It might be a little different again, but this year there are more reasons than ever to get together for community, friendship and fun.  Sign up for your free Big Lunch pack full of tips and ideas on hosting your own event (in whatever way you want to do it) and let’s have something to look forward to! 

MONDAY 7 JUNE: VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK CLOSE – A TIME TO SAY THANKS

Let’s say a huge thank you to all those incredible volunteers and celebrate volunteering in all its diversity!

Read about the difference volunteers made at the rollout of the School Rapid Testing Programme, or take a look at the story below as Home-Start says thanks to its volunteers.

The team at Home-Start in Suffolk would like to thank their incredible network of more than 270 volunteers for their dedication and hard work supporting families across the county.    

Over the last 12 months, the volunteers at Home-Start in Suffolk, swiftly and seamlessly adapted their support model to ensure families could still benefit from 1 to 1 support through virtual and telephone calls.  In addition to the usual one to one support, the  group services and regular contact has been so important to the families with many attending a variety of virtual group sessions, benefiting significantly from the relationships they build with their volunteers and fellow group attendees, all whilst knowing that there is someone there for them to help them through the challenges they are facing.  

It has been a very difficult year for everyone and families in Suffolk have been impacted greatly by the pandemic but the feedback from families that have received support from Home-Start in Suffolk has been glowing. 

One supported mum said of her telephone support volunteer “Nicola has such a good knowledge of how certain systems work and has given me so much support to help ensure I make or take the right steps going forward.  She has given me a wealth of support and knowledge and help on how to deal with my son and his emotional turmoil through many things, and has also aided me with how to approach certain difficult subjects.   I thank her dearly for this. I would feel very lost without my weekly conversation with Nicola at the moment.” 

One supported parent attending a  virtual group explained the impact the group sessions have had on her and her family. “I enjoy coming to group every month and feeling less alone in what I deal with, I couldn’t thank Tracy enough for making me feel listened to, even if it is through a phone call or zoom chat.” 

Another shared “I joined towards the end of lockdown but the sessions have been so useful. Especially on the days when things have been difficult.  They brought sunshine into our day.” 

Home-Start in Suffolk CEO Tara Spence said “Volunteers are the heart of our organisation and without them and their continued commitment we would not be able to support families in the same way.  We are extremely grateful to our amazing volunteers for all that they do.  We could not do it without them!”   

Home-Start in Suffolk are currently recruiting volunteers in the West, East and Waveney areas and indeed, right across Suffolk.  If you are interested in finding out more about how to join the Home-Start in Suffolk volunteer team, then please contact Jean on 01473 621104, email jean@homestartinsuffolk.org or visit the website.

Whatever you get up to, we hope you have a wonderful Volunteers’ Week!

Don't forget about our new Volunteering Survey!

This week, Community Action Suffolk launch a NEW volunteering survey for Suffolk. The idea is to help us understand the impact of volunteering in Suffolk communities and plan for the future. The survey will ask Suffolk residents why they may or may not volunteer.

Moving forward, make a start – fill this form in, play your part!