Call to give your time to others

THE season of giving is well and truly here – and one Hartlepool charity is urging people to think about giving some of their time to their community.

Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA) supports the town’s thriving voluntary and community sector by matching up people’s interests with organisations in need of helpers.

The charity’s volunteer centre says Hartlepool has one of the strongest volunteer communities in the whole of the Tees Valley.

But at any one time, they have up to 200 vacancies looking to be filled by volunteers.

Julie Laking, volunteer centre co-ordinator, said: “This time of year is about giving and that is what volunteering is all about.

“They give their time and skills with all these different organisations and are helping towards their aims and objectives.

“Without volunteers a lot of the groups, especially with the economic climate, would be really hard pressed to continue with their services.”

The centre has places for helpers in fields covering driving, retail, care and support, youth work, art, culture, music conservation gardening, and counselling.

Julie added: “The voluntary and community sector is so big in Hartlepool that it really mirrors the jobs market.

“Whatever jobs are out there you can be found voluntary work in that area.”

In the last year HVDA which is based in Victoria Road, helped 946 adult and 338 young volunteers, including 500 brand new helpers.

Volunteers come from all walks of life from the unemployed looking to learn new skills and retired wanting to put something back.

HVDA can also provide access to training and references that could prove vital in landing a job. Julie said: “We have an open door policy.

“Volunteering can set you aside from other job candidates and employers value the fact they have done something during a period of unemployment and continued to contribute in some way.”

This year HVDA distributed £264,375 in grants to projects run by more than 100 voluntary and community groups in the town.

The volunteer centre holds a drop in session for anyone wanting to learn more every Wednesday between 10am and 2pm.

And on Tuesday, January 10, it will be holding a Meet the Volunteer Centre event at the Grand Hotel in Swainson Street, Hartlepool.

It takes place from 10am to 1pm and centre staff will be on hand along with various organisations in search of volunteers.

For more information visit Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency’s website at