Every year we celebrate the value and impact of volunteering during national volunteering week which takes place from 1 to 7 June 2020; it provides an important opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to all the amazing people who give their time and expertise to help others, as well as encouraging others to consider volunteering if they are able to.
In Doncaster, we are proud of our volunteers and the significant contribution they make every single day; so whilst we will always recognise and celebrate national volunteering week, we should do this on a regular basis, even if it is just a simple ‘thank you.’
Volunteering plays an essential part in keeping our communities thriving and we could not function without our volunteers. Over 20 million people volunteer in the UK and it is proven that volunteering makes people feel happier and healthier.
During these challenging times, many people have been encouraged to help others by volunteering either locally, through the Doncaster community hub or nationally, through the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme. There has also been an increase in the number of ‘mutual aid’ groups where households simply work together to support people in their own neighbourhood.
We have certainly seen a surge in the number of people wanting to help their local communities here in Doncaster and my thanks go out to you all. The Coronavirus pandemic has seen local people coming together in a spirit of solidarity, to support and look after one another. It has helped to build community spirit and enabled people to connect with each other.
A great example is the ‘Doncaster Refurnish – Doncaster & Bassetlaw for the Love of Scrubs’ group of more than 330 volunteers, providing hundreds of hours of their own time to make masks, scrubs and vital supplies for local health and care staff.
The project has also developed a community of vulnerable and isolated people and gelled them into a committed volunteer workforce. They are staving off mental frustrations and turning this negative energy into positive creativity that is creating much wider community benefit. Everyone who participates has their own reason for wanting to support our beloved NHS. The stories are truly amazing.
Voluntary and community groups are providing vital resources for local Doncaster residents, including food banks, shelters and crisis support groups. There has been a huge demand for these services and organisations are working tirelessly to ensure people across the Borough are supported during these challenging times. Volunteers continue to play a crucial role in supporting these organisations.
There are many other tasks being undertaken by local people who are wanting to help and make a difference within the community where they live; from delivering food parcels and providing hot meals, to making a simple phone call to those who are shielding, isolated or feeling lonely.
Simple tasks, for example, shopping for a neighbour, cooking a meal for someone on their own, offering to help with gardening or walking a dog for a person who is struggling are all small acts of kindness and help us connect to our fellow neighbours.
The benefits of volunteering are well documented. It not only helps those on the receiving end, it can also improve the wellbeing of the volunteer too, making us happier and healthier. After all, it is human nature to feel good as a result of helping someone out and it can provide a sense of purpose as well as social connection. It can also help to gain valuable new experiences and skills and improve our wellbeing.
Here’s a few resources and tools we can access to help boost our spirits:
- ‘Action for Happiness’ supports the promotion of happiness through helping others and runs various free programmes to support you find happiness; you can join a free 10 day coaching programme to improve your own wellbeing here
- You can also download the ‘Joyful June’ calendar, to help create a happier and kinder world through taking small daily actions to promote what’s good, even in difficult times and you can download a smartphone app to have this resource at your fingertips.
Finally, please remember to follow the government’s latest guidelines on coronavirus to keep safe:
Be aware of the threat of Coronavirus and continue to keep 2 metres apart from other people.
‘Control the virus’
Keep your distance, avoid crowds of people and be careful; doing this will help to avoid a second spike of cases.
Remember also to keep washing your hands regularly for twenty seconds with soap.
By doing this, we can stay well and ‘Save Lives.’
Every act of volunteering and kindness makes a huge difference to people; here at NHS Doncaster CCG, we would like to say a big THANK YOU for all the work undertaken by everyone.