Suffolk’s Bid To Boost Volunteering

A NEW COUNTY-WIDE campaign to encourage volunteering is being launched by a collective of Suffolk’s charities and voluntary organisations. 

The first Suffolk Action Week will take place between Monday 30th September and Sunday 6th October, with events and fairs being held throughout the region. 

The eight library-based fairs will take place between 10.30 and 2pm. These will be on Monday at Ipswich; Tuesday at Woodbridge and Halesworth; Wednesday at Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Eye (until 1pm); Thursday in Haverhill and Friday in Newmarket. 

Latest national research suggests 22% of the population take part in volunteering at least once a month, and organisers of Suffolk Action Week have aspirations of making this county a shining example to the rest of the UK of a community committed to giving their time to causes. 

Being led by Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Libraries, The East of England Coop and charities such as Family First, West Suffolk Sight, Emmaus, Volunteering Matters, Lighthouse Women’s Aid, Suffolk Family Carers, Age Uk Suffolk and Suffolk Community Foundation, the campaign will showcase the wide variety of roles and opportunities which are available to potential volunteers. 

Business owners will also be encouraged to learn more about Employer Supported Volunteering, which can more easily enable staff to give their time to organisations in Suffolk which they feel passionately about. 

Janet Perry, Volunteer Services Officer for Community Action Suffolk, said: “Volunteering is something which can fit into the lives of the vast majority of people – whether you’re 12 or 80 years old. As a county, we have such a diverse range of organisations in the voluntary sector, that it provides scope for people to take a role which is a perfect fit with their lifestyle, their hobbies, or their passions. 

“You can give as little as an hour a month, or 25 hours a month, and be taking on a responsibility as a mentor, an event fundraiser, a museum visitor guide, a scout leader, a reader for young children – or countless other options. 

She added: “Our message is very clear for this exciting new campaign week in Suffolk ‘Get inspired, get involved, get volunteering.” 

Throughout the campaign week, a total of eight volunteer fairs will be staged at Suffolk libraries. 

These will provide opportunities to meet with charity leaders, find out about specific roles, and learn more about why volunteering is good for mental health and wellbeing. 

Diane Moore, Suffolk Libraries Volunteer Engagement Manager, said: “Suffolk Libraries is delighted to be supporting Suffolk Action Week.  The campaign will hopefully highlight the valuable contribution volunteers make in the county as well as the many opportunities available and the benefits of volunteering.

Our library service is lucky to have a large group of dedicated volunteers who help to increase our impact and libraries are ideal places to host volunteer fairs as they are accessible, welcoming places at the heart of their local community.” 

Community Action Suffolk estimates that some 280,665 people in Suffolk will have engaged in some form of volunteering throughout the last year. Its partner website Volunteer Suffolk lists hundreds of roles for individuals to choose from, and its Prohelp initiative enables dozens of the county’s businesses to become involved in helping charities and voluntary organisations. 

One person who is already benefiting from having committed to regular volunteering, is Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service volunteer, John Sones. He said: “Being retired and with more free time, I wanted to have a more regular volunteer commitment that also provided a variety of activities.  

As a Community Fire Volunteer with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, and issued with the service uniform, I feel a real part of the Prevention Team and valued for what I do. The message I am spreading is about fire safety, and I find it really satisfying when a person thanks you and realises that they can easily improve their family’s safety.”  

For more information about becoming involved in Suffolk Action Week, go to www.communityactionsuffolk.org.uk/volunteering/suffolk-action-week or email janet.perry@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk.

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