Hundreds of organisations in Northumberland are run entirely by volunteers and many more simply couldn’t offer the wealth of services they provide without the regular commitment of their valuable voluntary supporters.
More than 20 million people across the country volunteer at least once a month for a whole range of worthy causes.
Volunteers’ Week, which runs until Sunday, aims to showcase the value of volunteers in our communities and to encourage more new recruits to taste the satisfaction that helping others can deliver.
Volunteering really is democracy in action. These are people who don’t wait for politicians to make good on their promises – they vote with their feet to identify and tackle an issue right on their doorstep by volunteering for a local organisation.
Organisations like Age UK Northumberland, which works to improve the quality of life of older people in the county.
Last year, three welfare-rights advice volunteers for the charity did something really amazing with their 1,716 hours of volunteering.
They used their skills to negotiate £1.28million in extra income for older people in Northumberland by supporting them to get the benefits they’re entitled to. “I enjoy the difference I make to people’s lives by increasing their income and their quality of life,” said welfare-rights volunteer Michael, who has been volunteering at the charity for more than five years.
Age UK Northumberland chief executive Angela Murray is in no doubt about the value of volunteers like Brian and Michael. “We simply couldn’t do without the generous time and skills our 300-plus volunteers offer,” she said. “Their 45,000 hours of support each year with our lunch clubs, day centres, exercise classes, information line, advocacy and befriending is absolutely invaluable.
“Volunteering is a life-enhancing experience for our supporters as well as our beneficiaries – so let’s use Volunteers Week to thank and appreciate those special people who get a real kick out of donating their personal time, effort and skills to help others.”
To contact the Age UK Northumberland advice line, call 01670 784821.
To volunteer with Age UK Northumberland, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue was living on the basic state pension and, with worsening arthritis and a serious lung condition, was finding it difficult to manage without support for her personal care, household tasks and cooking.
Age UK Northumberland volunteers supported her to claim the extra allowances she was entitled to, and the money she received has had a huge impact on her life.
She said: “My GP told me to contact Age UK as he knew I was having difficulty managing with household chores and looking after myself.
“I’ve worked all my life. It was a shock to the system having to live on a basic state pension. I was always taught, if you haven’t got anything, do not spend it. Even so, it was very hard for me before Age UK stepped in.
“Winter was particularly harsh. I would lie awake at night, worrying how I would manage. I’d cut back on heating and wear two cardigans and two pairs of socks. When people visited, I’d put the heating on so they wouldn’t realise my predicament.
“I was in a downward spiral, but did not think I was entitled to benefits. I felt physically sick at the thought of asking for help. I finally plucked up the courage to contact Age UK and their volunteers have been my saviours.”