Damian writes a regular column for the Petersfield Post, and below is the piece published today:
"This week is National Volunteers’ Week, and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the amazing work done every day of the year by thousands of individuals and organisations in East Hampshire and nationwide.
Data from the Community Life Survey (CLS) released last year suggests that close to 42% of people in the UK volunteer at least once a year, and this level of participation has been increasing over the last 10 to 15 years.
And significantly, the value of volunteering to the economy is thought to be more than £22 billion - about 1.2% of GDP – with a staggering 165,800 voluntary organisations based here in the UK.
But, of course, volunteering is about so much more than numbers and data. It is the gift of time; which for many of us is the most precious commodity of all.
What attracts people to volunteering? Well, it might be a passion for a particular cause, or an event in someone’s life that inspires support for a particular initiative. It can also be cultural. The UK has a long tradition of volunteering and giving to charity, recognised in its 8th position in the 2016 World Giving Index, with Myanmar taking top spot ahead of the US.
I believe most people offer their time because they feel they’re making a difference, and that can be an extremely powerful motivation.
I’m privileged to meet a great many people involved in volunteering, both in East Hampshire and elsewhere, and most say that the work they do is very rewarding. Despite the lack of monetary benefit, they feel personally recognised and valued, possibly in a way they haven’t felt before. And for some, the reward comes from working as part of a team with a shared vision, giving the group a unique sense of purpose.
And although a large majority of volunteers may be retired, it is certainly not the exclusive domain of the older generations. The long-established Duke of Edinburgh Awards has been inspiring young people to explore volunteering opportunities since 1956, with more than 2,860,000 awards made since its inception. A unique legacy that aims to involve another million by 2021.
The National Citizen Service, started in 2011, is another great way to enable 15-17 year olds to develop a range of ‘soft’ skills, alongside the experience of delivering a community project as part of their 3-4 week summer programme. More than 400,000 young people have signed up for the government-funded programme over the last seven years, and there is more to come.
We’re fortunate in East Hampshire to have Community First who provide support and advice to local voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises to help them build their capacity and ensure a thriving and successful voluntary sector across the area.
And in honour of National Volunteers’ Week, they will be showcasing a range of opportunities through a stall at todays’ Petersfield Market. If you have the interest and capacity to offer some of your time, they would be delighted to hear from you.
And I would like to add a personal thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who contribute so much to our local communities. The time you give is hugely appreciated.
Article written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on 6th June 2018