Celebrating Volunteering

Damian writes a regular column in the Petersfield Post, and this is the latest one, published today:


Imagine what it would be like in our communities if we didn’t have volunteers. The generous spirit of people who give up their time for others touches every aspect of life across our towns and villages.

Within Petersfield itself, there are many obvious signs of this: the volunteers who work at the Petersfield Museum, the people who run the weekly drop-in Refresh café at St Peter’s Church, the Friends of Petersfield Heath, the advisors at the newly located Citizens Advice team in the Library, the green-fingered volunteers who look after the Physic Garden, the fund-raising Friends of Petersfield Hospital, and the volunteers who help the Fitzroy charity support people with learning disabilities.

But of course there are numerous others, from scout and brownie groups to local youth clubs and local sports teams, staff in charity shops to those that collect for the Poppy Appeal, community bus drivers that help our elderly get out and about to the carers that run support groups for people living with dementia, members of local school PTA’s to Village in Bloom teams, and the many hours put in by often un-sung local councillors.

The East Hampshire Volunteer Awards are being held tonight at the Petersfield Festival Hall, celebrating the work done by individuals and groups across the area that make a difference within our local communities. Organised by Community First and East Hampshire District Council, this is a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the generosity of those who step up and offer help, however small or large that contribution is.

There is a strong human desire to do good by others, and for many the reward comes from the support and friendship of working in a team that shares the same ambition. And those teams often draw together people from a wide range of backgrounds, age groups and occupations; people who may otherwise not have the opportunity to meet.

Many companies now recognise the benefits of enabling staff to work on voluntary projects, building a stronger relationship with local communities, but also fostering team work and a sense of purpose outside of the normal working environment. And if you’re interested in finding out how companies, big and small, can get involved then Community First can tell you more.

In my role as an MP I meet a great number of people who volunteer; including many who give time to more than one cause. I am often struck by their great dedication and commitment, and I do wonder how much local life could be further enriched if more people were able to get involved.

As with many areas across the UK, we’re fortunate to have a great network of volunteering organisations locally, covering the widest range of interests. If you have a particular hobby, there’s very likely to be an outfit who could use your skill and enthusiasm. Again, Community First could be your first port of call for advice and guidance on the opportunities available.

But back to tonight’s proceedings, good luck to all of those short-listed for an award, and congratulations to the worthy winners. I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to everyone locally that volunteers – your efforts are much appreciated and help to make East Hampshire the great place it is to live and work.

For more information on Community First, please head to: www.cfirst.org.uk/


Article written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on 29th November 2017