Last month Hope was re-accredited for our work with volunteers under the national volunteering accreditation system run by NCVO – Investing in Volunteers. This reflects our commitment to working with people who give their time and supporting them actively to enjoy being here and helping them to offer something really valuable to our service users. This week it’s also National Volunteers week, and Hope is celebrating volunteering.
There are so many ways that people can volunteer at Hope. There are too many roles to list: working in the day centre is one, helping in the kitchen another – the most traditional ways volunteers have helped here. But there is other work right across Hope, in our gardening projects, training, arts and crafts classes, our food warehouse and pop-up shops, campaigning for change, helping with building work, painting offices, doing admin or accounts, working on our databases, fundraising, marketing, repairing tools. It’s almost endless. Whatever you want to do, we can use you, whether you are an external individual with time on your hands, a company who wants to do some volunteering as a team, or a service user who wants to gain experience and develop their skills or fill their time!
We reward volunteers – with good supervision, but also with regular events like tea at the Hilton hotel, a barbecue or a tea party. They contribute ideas about how we should be run and are consulted and tell us what more we can do and do it better. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, from company directors to service users.
By engaging so many people in diverse roles, we are reminded, again, that Hope is a community charity, run by and owned by the community, and accountable to it. We work to serve it and are funded or supported by it, to the tune of thousands of hours each year, let alone the financial value of things volunteers bring in, or the donations they raise. It’s a huge volume of social capital created, that contributes to the economy and civil space of Northampton. It’s often not recognised nor valued by those who plan, commission or run services nationally or locally. Statutory services of course also use volunteers, but volunteering is above all, emblematic of the voluntary sector. Long may the capacity to volunteer continue, given the pressures to work longer and harder, that dominate people’s lives.