“Volunteers Week is celebrated between 1st and 7th June every year. It is a week in which the UK celebrates volunteers and says thank you to them for the contribution that they make. The week also raises awareness about the benefits of becoming a volunteer and the diverse volunteering roles that are available” (Volunteers Week 2020)
This year due to Covid19 and social distancing, events and activities for Volunteers’ Week will not happen. In these challenging and unparalleled times, the role of volunteers in society has become more apparent, especially looking after the needs of the most isolated and vulnerable people in our communities. Voluntary Action Coventry through developing its use of social media and online meetings has been developing ways to enable and encourage people to connect with each other, whether as volunteers or people who are feeling in need of support. We have found many people with lots of talents and skills which they have been sharing with each other, and linking people to volunteering opportunities to help with Covid-19 and lock down.
Voluntary Action Coventry would normally hold an event celebrating volunteers and raising awareness of volunteering opportunities available to people looking to volunteer. As this is not possible, we would like to showcase the wonderful work of the people who have journeyed through the projects being delivered by Voluntary Action Coventry, as well highlight some of the invaluable work being done by people who give their time and energy to supporting VAC, and its projects through people’s individual stories, many of whom give their time to more than one project.
By dealing with these challenges in different ways both volunteers and service users are growing and developing their skills and abilities. Part of people’s experiences, which are inevitably reflected within their journeys are thoughts about the pandemic, and its impact this Volunteers Week 2020.
To keep people’s brains occupied and to raise awareness of the history of the Charitable sector in the UK we also have a brief quiz, get your answers right and we will send you a virtual certificate. Join us in our volunteering quiz challenge!
VAC thanks all of its volunteers and the volunteers across Coventry both past and present for the fantastic contribution they make to our services and the City.
Show cased below are some of the stories of volunteers, people benefiting from services and the journeys they travel, and are still traveling."
"You can be a brain surgeon in your country but in this country and any other new country you have to start at the bottom. the first place to start is get an education, find out where you can do studies and then work toward employment. The best thing to get on in this life, is to find out how you can do work, and get a reference to show how good you are. Volunteering is the best way of learning a job, find out about way things are done find out about business here in the UK and how to live. Being a volunteer at VAC helped to raise my self-esteem and confidence. I Learnt how to deal with different people. Helped me to stand on my feet again and carry on living. This helped me to go forward in my life. At VAC I volunteer as a receptionist, where I take calls, help to set up meetings, and all things to do with running VAC.
I went into volunteering as my life was in ruins, I couldn’t get a job in what I wanted to do, I didn’t know what to do, I was very upset. I found a good activity at VAC to take my mind off things. I had an interview to volunteer with volunteer coordinator in 2013 after that. It was absolutely the right thing to volunteer. Worked with Lucy and Sue, so many people. I like to work with people, at the beginning I worked two days, and was given things to do, which made me feel valued and important. I found joy in working together with the team, Joy in working together with other people and seeing people’s joy and laughter when we finished things. When I can help and bring my skills it makes it worthwhile."
"I have been involved in volunteering for most of my working life – teaching adults to read, working with looked after children, volunteering in various schools and for the last seven years at the Drop In Centre for Mind.
This time last year, after retiring, I also started volunteering at Voluntary Action Coventry and a few months ago with Chat Central.
I find I am not happy unless I am doing something useful, and particularly enjoy helping people in making changes which improve their lives or cope with circumstances they can’t change.
I am always really pleased when I have helped somebody to achieve something they might have found difficult without support. I believe volunteering gives as much to the volunteer as it does to those receiving support.
Volunteering at Chat Central has given me the opportunity to meet a great group of diverse people and take part in many interesting activities. I am looking forward to seeing how this will progress over the coming months when the coronavirus pandemic is under control."
"I came to volunteer at Chat Central through attending the Improving Lives course at Voluntary Action Coventry. The support I received both on this course and through the Accelerate programme gave me the confidence to use skills I’d forgotten I had. The work I do there includes attending the Drop-In sessions and workshops, taking part in Zoom group chats, giving one to one support and promoting Chat Central by distributing leaflets.
As well as volunteering at Chat Central I also help at UHCW by identifying carers and making sure they have the support they need through Coventry Carers.
I have experienced many different aspects of volunteering at Chat Central. In particular I enjoyed the Lantern Workshop, the banter on the Zoom group chats, doing the Café Culture survey, learning new skills at the workshops and using new technology such as Zoom.
I was particularly pleased to be asked to support one of the service users on a one to one basis since the Covid-19 lockdown as this gave me the opportunity to do something I’m good at – helping vulnerable people.
Volunteering has done me the world of good. I feel I can make a contribution and it has also given me a routine and structure. Hopefully it will help me to get back on the road to employment. I have also had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people which has given me a boost as I live alone and don’t have a support mechanism.
VAC has been a pillar of strength to me and it feels as though the people there are my family."