Thank you to Dorset’s outstanding volunteers

Dorset Community Response

Dorset Council is thanking volunteers for the difference they make this Volunteers Week which runs from 1-7 June.

Volunteers are key to lots of services and although many people have been volunteering since long before the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands more have stepped in to help friends and neighbours in more recent times. Over the past 15 months, our communities have come together to support each other and those most vulnerable. Community groups were created overnight and have provided not only vital support for residents, but have highlighted just how caring our Dorset Council residents are.

With the help of our communities and volunteers, support with services such as food delivery, medication collection, dog walking, befriending and more, was made available to residents during the periods of lockdown. This would not have been possible without our 7,000+ volunteers and our resilient Dorset Council communities.

Working closely with AgeUk North, South and West DorsetCitizens Advice in DorsetHelp And KindnessVolunteer Centre DorsetDorset Community Action and Dorset Community Foundation, our volunteers have been matched to services to offer support.

Thousands of calls have been answered and regular wellbeing calls to our most vulnerable, isolated and lonely residents were made. Support for volunteers and organisations has also been available through weekly webinars and over £170,000 in grants has been awarded to groups that are helping vulnerable people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

To mark National Volunteers Week, charities across the UK will also be holding events to thank their volunteers and celebrate the power of volunteering. Last year there were over 600 events across the country, from award ceremonies to tea parties and barbecues.

For many charities the week will be a chance to showcase the range of volunteering opportunities on offer. Volunteer fairs and other events will be encouraged people to try volunteering for the first time and help people find out how, through volunteering, they can make a difference to a cause they are passionate about.

Cllr Val Pothecary, Chairman of Dorset Council said:

“This Volunteers Week, I want to take this opportunity to send a personal message of appreciation. It’s truly astonishing how many people have come forward to volunteer their support for neighbours and local communities during the COVID crisis.

“Now, as things start to get closer to something that resembles normality and local groups, clubs and organisations start to get going again, it’s important that we recognize everyone who gives up their time to help and support others year in year out.

“So, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who volunteer in Dorset. Whether you’re someone who helps to support Council services or someone who volunteers with many groups and organisations that make Dorset such a very special place to be. Thank you.”

Sally was a COVID community volunteer and now volunteers for the community fridge. She says:

“I have enjoyed volunteering over lockdown and coming out of lockdown as it is very rewarding knowing that what you do really does makes a difference.

“I know my parents were so grateful whenever anyone offered any form of help or just ringing up for a chat knowing that someone is thinking about you.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the exciting new project – The CasterFridge – it is very heart-warming to see so many people really concerned about food waste. They are grateful in so many ways when they realise that the food is for everyone. I would be delighted to continue volunteering with such kind people as long as I am able.”

Dan volunteers with the community credit scheme supporting one of our volunteers with a learning disability, He says:

“I became a volunteer as I like to help people and the role I have taken on really interests me. It is very rewarding and I have built up great relationships with those whom I have met. I love what I do and I am so glad that I discovered the Volunteer Centre here in Dorchester”

Barry is a volunteer at the Bridport Citizens Advice. He says:

“I really enjoy volunteering at Bridport CAB. There is a great sense of teamwork in the local office, which is supported by the national organisation, Citizens Advice. We all share a commitment to helping other people with their problems. I enjoy being able to continue to use my skills as well the challenge of researching and learning information in new areas with which I am not familiar.”

Volunteer Centre Dorset operates throughout the county enabling and promoting volunteering for all. Throughout the pandemic, they have supported vulnerable individuals with shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking, and more. This has only been possible thanks to the 3,500+ volunteers that gave their time to help their community. On top of this, VCD has been working to support 160+ community response groups who each have their own group of dedicated volunteers. These volunteers have been a lifeline to so many during the pandemic, from delivering emergency food supplies to those in crisis, to picking up the phone and having a friendly chat to an isolated individual. No matter their contribution, every minute of their time they donated made all the difference to someone’s life, and so the Volunteer Centre, and all the people they support, want to thank all the volunteers for their selfless commitment.

To find out more about volunteering in Dorset, or sign up to help visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/coronavirus and click on Communities and Volunteering.

View the video from Cllr Val Pothercary, Chairman of Dorset Council.

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Thank you to Dorset’s outstanding volunteers