Volunteers’ Week ends today with the message that volunteering is a wonderful thing to do and offers many benefits.
Various charities and organisations have spent the week highlighting the work of their volunteers and celebrating the valuable contribution they make to the community.
St Barnabas House, the adults’ hospice for Worthing, Adur, Arun and Henfield, has seen 660 volunteers offer support at the hospice in Worthing and the various charity shops in the area in the past year. These volunteers contributed 73,892 hours, saving the hospice £889,333.
Additionally, those volunteering at fundraising events for both St Barnabas House and children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House generously gave 5,135 hours, saving a further £38,512.50.
Steve Richards, voluntary services director, said: “There is no greater gift someone can give to another person than time – we can buy chocolates, we can buy flowers or gift tokens.
“Every day we have is precious and that so many volunteers choose to make the gift of using their time helping others through our volunteering opportunities is something that we cherish at St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House.
“I hope that every volunteer knows how much we value their commitment to the work we do together, helping other people every day.”
Lucy Wright has volunteered at St Barnabas House for nine months, working evening shifts on reception. She decided to volunteer because her sister was cared for by the hospice when she was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago.
Lucy said: “When I moved down here from London I really wanted to do to something worthwhile with the spare time I had available and I wanted to give something back to St Barnabas because they were just brilliant with us as a whole family.
“My role involves meeting, greeting and welcoming visitors, making sure they know where they are going, admin and answering the phones. The nursing team are very helpful and it’s lovely to be a part of it and be one of the team.”
Eddie Betley has been volunteering with the events team at St Barnabas House for eight years.
He said: “My late wife worked for St Barnabas for 20 years so I felt that I needed to be around her area. My role involves coming out to functions, stuffing envelopes, going out and putting banners up.”
The charity Carers Support West Sussex has more than 70 volunteers, including support group co-facilitators, community roles and more than 30 volunteer counsellors.
Pam Thomson, volunteer co-ordinator, said: “We simply couldn’t do what we do without the hard work and dedication of our amazing volunteers.
“They add so much to Carers Support, not just with their time, but also the skills and experience they bring with them.”
Lorna Bradley, 40, from Worthing, started volunteering with Carers Support because she wanted to give something back to the service that had helped her with caring for her 15-year-old daughter Caitlin.
Lorna said: “As a carer to my daughter with autism, Carers Support offered me hope, advice, information and support. They were a much-needed support service in my caring role and continue to offer support as I need it, always with a friendly, caring attitude.
“Volunteering for Carers Support West Sussex has not only enabled me to give something back but it has enabled me to update skills I held from the career I left because of my daughters care needs, learn new skills, develop a sense of self-worth that I had begun to lack and interact with people again.
“I enjoy my volunteering so much and would recommend it to others.”
Many volunteers at Carers Support give up as little as four hours a month to support its work. More are currently needed to support its teams in hospitals, support groups and helping in the community.
Pam said: “We know our volunteers get so much from supporting carers, but we get as much from them. The warmth and kindness they show and the skills and experience they bring from their own professional backgrounds really adds to what we do as a countywide charity.”
West Sussex County Council’s Fun and Breaks service celebrated the dedication of Jean Aston and Michelle Crowley, two volunteers who have each provided support for disabled children for 15 years.
Stephen Hillier, cabinet member, said: “What Jean and Michelle, and indeed all of our FAB volunteers, do in giving up their time for free to help children and their families who need a bit of support, is so important and makes a real difference to people’s lives.”