The contribution made by volunteers to community organisations throughout Northumberland is being celebrated.
The annual Volunteers’ Week has this year been extended so that its end coincides with a lunch on Sunday to celebrate the Queen’s lifetime of service to more than 600 charities and organisations to which she acts as a patron.
Northumberland CVA, which offers support to volunteer-involving organisations across the county, is using the week to not only thank its own volunteers but also helping other groups to thank theirs.
Maureen Shepherd, Northumberland CVA’s development officer for volunteering, said: “I never fail to be inspired by the many amazing examples of the work carried out by volunteers.
“The time, commitment and enthusiasm they give are essential in ensuring the continuing work of so many of our voluntary and community groups and the services they provide.”
During 2016, Carers Northumberland has seen a steady increase of regular commitment from an increasing group of volunteers who are part of its support team for unpaid carers throughout the county.
Project officer Gail Purvis said: “The participation of our volunteers cannot be underestimated and their good humour is much appreciated.
“Thank you to all Carers Northumberland volunteers, you’re all stars.”
Northumbria Blood Bikes volunteer Barry Bullas will today be presented with the MBE for services to public administration and charity during an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
The charity transports blood and urgent medical supplies throughout the North East.
Barry has been a committee member since Northumbria Blood Bikes was formed in 2012, most recently taking on the role of vice chairman after being membership secretary, all on top of his day job for the civil service.
Kirst Lawrence said: “The honour he has been awarded is a credit to his hard work and continued dedication to our charity.
“We are proud to have him as one of our volunteers.”
Samaritans praise life-savers
Samaritans of Northumberland is celebrating Volunteers’ Week by saying a big thank-you to its team of life-saving volunteers.
Branch director Sue said: “Life can be tough for anyone and everyone deals with challenges in different ways.
“As Samaritans volunteers, we don’t judge, we’re for absolutely anyone and we want people to talk to us before they feel overwhelmed.
“I’d like to thank each and every one of our dedicated volunteers – the work they do is priceless. If you’re open-minded and feel that the moment is right in your life to give some time to others, why not think about volunteering with us?”
Someone contacts Samaritans every six seconds and across the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 20,000 volunteers give well over five million hours of their time a year, responding to calls, fund-raising, supporting people in prisons, workplaces and schools, and running its 201 branches.
The charity estimates that paid employees would be earning the equivalent of £72million a year.
Lizzie, 69, volunteers at her local Samaritans branch in Ashington. She said: “Knowing you’ve made a difference to someone’s life is all the reward any of us needs.
“Just being there to listen, in confidence, to someone going through a tough time in their lives can be really helpful to that person. It could be family, work, money or relationship issues, or perhaps they’ve lost a loved one.
“Whatever they are dealing with, we listen and give people the courage to open up about what’s happening in their life and support them to get through.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Samaritans, visit www.samaritans.org
Pride award for outstanding Michael
More than 100 volunteers attended the first Volunteers’ Conference hosted by Northumbria Police and Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Saturday’s event was a chance to thank the many people who give up their own time to volunteer to support policing and the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), as well as inspire them.
Attendees heard from a host of speakers including two from North Yorkshire Police who play a key role in Citizens in Policing.
Northumbria PCC Vera Baird answered questions about how important volunteers are to support the work she is doing.
Chief Constable Steve Ashman also took to the stage and the winner of Northumbria Police’s 2016 Pride in Policing Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award, Special Constable Michael Scott, was presented with his award. He has volunteered for the force’s Special Constabulary for 30 years and last year clocked up a massive 1,000 hours.
The pioneer behind Northumbria’s Volunteer Police Cadet Scheme, Sgt Alan Parks, was recognised for his commitment and dedication to the scheme which started in Gateshead in 2010 before being rolled out across the force in 2012.
He was given special recognition for his achievements which include enrolling the 300th participant on the Duke of Edinburgh Award and helping the force have one of the highest completion rates of the bronze award.