From delivering shopping to clinically vulnerable residents required to shield, to having a socially-distanced doorstep catch-up with someone feeling isolated and anxious in lockdown, volunteers have been unsung heroes of Kent’s response to the pandemic over the past year.
Now Kent County Council is taking time in national Volunteers’ Week to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those who help others and to celebrate the huge positive difference volunteers, and volunteering, make to our lives.
KCC is also using the annual seven-day awareness-raising event, which starts on Tuesday, 1st June, to highlight the latest volunteering opportunities across the county.
Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “In any year, every single day, volunteers from all walks of life make an invaluable, often unseen but always powerful, contribution to Kent lives and local communities. But, over the past uncertain 12 months, they have been crucial to ensuring support is on hand.
“So, in this very special Volunteers’ Week, I want to say ‘thank you’! Thank you for being brilliant and giving up your time to help others; for being there, in person, online or at the end of a phone, when Kent needed you most.
“Recognising that volunteering has also been affected by Covid, I’d like to extend this thanks to people who normally volunteer but have been unable to because of the pandemic.
“I also want to use this campaign to champion volunteering and encourage everyone to get involved in activities that make such a difference behind many of the services we all rely.
“In turn, KCC will continue to look at how we help volunteering play its vital part in future recovery and build on our CrowdFund Kent initiative – a partnership project offering match-funding to volunteer-led schemes aimed at improving their local area.”
From becoming a school governor, or a community safety warden, to joining Neighbourhood Watch, or helping in a day care centre or library, you can find details of volunteer centres and opportunities near you on the KCC website here and on the Kent Volunteers’ website here
Beth Peal, Chief Executive Officer of Ashford Volunteer Centre, said: “Without doubt the last year has been phenomenally busy but Kent absolutely rose to the challenge. We’ve had days when phones were ringing off the hook as people of all ages stepped up to offer their time, skills and energy to make a difference.
“In Ashford alone we had over 500 people register. But, alongside this, we know many individuals informally helped out in their communities – doing simple but useful things like putting notes through letterboxes to make sure neighbours knew where to get help if they needed it.
“What’s really remarkable is that in so many instances what started out as volunteering, maybe walking someone’s dog, has turned into lasting friendships. Now these people are walking their dogs together.
“It’s just been incredible to see that, even in the very difficult times, people in Kent believed they could make positive things happen, and did. Now my wish is for everyone to hold onto this spirit, to keep re-connecting with neighbours and community, know the names of people who live around you, and discover that volunteering is about helping others and also so rewarding.”
Organised by daily theme, Volunteers’ Week 2021 focuses on youth volunteering on Wednesday, 2nd June, and environmental volunteering on World Environment Day – Saturday, 5th June.
From volunteering time to help in local clubs and sports facilities, or giving an hour to help children read, to donating items such as sports kits, arts and craft materials and recycled computers, you can read more about the Reconnect programme, reconnecting Kent’s children and young people with the things they’ve missed during the pandemic, and register your interest to get involved here
For details of local green volunteering opportunities visit the Kent Countryside Partnerships website here
To find out more about Volunteers’ Week visit the campaign’s website here and follow @NCVOvolunteers on Twitter to share inspiring volunteering stories, pictures and videos using #VolunteersWeek and #MonthOfCommunity.