Across Bath, countless numbers of volunteers go the extra mile to help a host of good causes every day. Their efforts are certainly varied, and mean countless numbers of community projects can take place.
Volunteers Week runs from June 1-7, and is a chance to celebrate the contribution of volunteers across the country.
Bath law firm Stone King gives its staff a day off each year so they can volunteer, but many go even further.
Helping people learn a skill they didn’t know they were capable of is the motivation for administrative coordinator Delia Lee. Delia is a choreographer and trustee for Zenith, a youth theatre company.
She is also a representative of the National Operatic Dramatic Association, which provides support to amateur theatre groups, as well as writing reviews for their productions.
“There are many groups and people who simply cannot afford to pay professional fees for the help and support they need,” said Delia.
“If people are not prepared to offer that help and support for free, then these groups would not survive and there would not be so many opportunities for people to do the things they love or to experience new things.The world is a better place because of these opportunities and experiences. I have 50 years’ experience in dance and theatre and I feel I should share the knowledge I have whenever possible.”
Delia’s volunteering has seen her awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service as part of the Zenith volunteering team.
“I get the joy of seeing young people achieving things they didn’t think they were capable of and really enjoying it,” she added.
“We often have 13-year-old boys joining Zenith who say they can’t dance and don’t want to and five years later they have fallen in love with dancing. Watching that process is the benefit I get and experiencing that process is the benefit they get.”
Lawyer Caroline Taylor volunteers at a number of organisations from Bristol Children’s Hospital to St John’s Church at South Parade in Bath, where she manages various financial projects on their behalf.
“The charity and the Church cannot pay for people to do the roles I fulfil,” said Caroline.
“I have been exceptionally blessed in my life – I have a huge network of family and friends surrounding me and I know that others don’t; so it is a tiny way of giving back and thanking my lucky stars for all I have.”
Lawyer Josephine Boyle uses her personal experiences to help cancer patients at the Spire Hospital Bristol, where she volunteers as a Patient Support Advisor.
“I think it is important for others to know the information from a person, rather than reading through bundles of literature, and sometimes confusing information, provided by the hospital,” said Josephine.
“By speaking with people I can reassure them on the many concerns they may have in getting through the treatment they need to deal with this illness, and by speaking from personal knowledge of the cancer treatments I went through for over two years. I have spoken with several women who were frightened to take the next step, but with my help they have faced the treatment with the knowledge that I have been through the same thing and survived, which hopefully gives them the reassurance, comfort and confidence they need to proceed and get through their treatment.”
Other Stone King staff volunteer in a wide range of areas, including at Mentoring Plus, coaching netball, litter picking, reading with children and with the Samaritans.
The Samaritans have a policy not identifying volunteers with one saying:
“Many people don’t have someone in their lives who can listen to their problems without attempting to solve them, or passing judgement. This can make it hard to understand or explain our emotions, and to recognise how to respond to them. As volunteer listeners, we are trained to provide emotional support for people in distress, helping them to make sense of whatever thoughts may be going around their heads.
“Last year, 5.5 million calls were answered by the Samaritans, the phones literally never stop ringing. For the Samaritans, it’s important to never stop listening.”
For more see BANES voluntary opportunities.