This week is Volunteers’ Week. It is an annual event which takes place in the first week of June and celebrates the contribution made by volunteers across the UK.
We are lucky in Hartlepool to have such a strong sense of community spirit and an ethic of volunteering running through the town’s DNA.
Other towns and cities of course have volunteers doing marvellous work on behalf of their community, but I do think that in Hartlepool the range and level of volunteering relative to our status as a small town is something quite unusual and astonishing.
The number of residents’ groups in Hartlepool making a positive difference to a particular local area remains strong, despite significant cuts to funding.
The range of activities carried out in Hartlepool by volunteers with a passion for their subject or their community is truly commendable.
Just after the election, I was invited by Paul Stabler to visit a girls’ football club he runs with other volunteers every Saturday morning on the Tech rugby field on Throston Grange Lane.
Paul’s daughter helps out and is hoping to become a coach.
It is clear that the girls; aged as young as five, enjoy the football, but these activities would not go on if it is wasn’t for Paul, his daughter and hundreds and thousands of other volunteers across the country.
Volunteering doesn’t have to be as strenuous as football training.
Across the town, volunteers are working on things as diverse as assisting in charity shops, helping out in the town’s museum, undertaking drama or running tea clubs for older residents.
A lot of work takes place across the town for cancer charities in terms of raising awareness as well as raising funds.
People volunteer for different reasons. There will probably be a different reason for each individual volunteer.
Some people want to gain hands-on experience which could then get them into a job.
Others will simply want to meet new people and be involved in and contribute to their local community.
Others will want to share a passion of theirs – whether it is sport, archaeology, painting or stamp collecting – and encourage others to share in that passion.
Not only do volunteers put a lot into their activities for their community, they get a lot back in terms of personal well-being and satisfaction in knowing they have helped their community.
Volunteers Week is an opportunity to showcase the great and diverse work that volunteers do as a means of enriching our community and society. It is also an opportunity for society to say thank you to all the volunteers who provide a huge amount to our communities.