During national Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June), Calderdale Council is paying tribute to over 1000 people who have volunteered to support vulnerable residents across the borough during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution that millions of people make throughout the UK by volunteering.
Although Calderdale’s volunteers make an incredible difference in various roles year in year out, their contribution in the current crisis is even more vital.
Together they are supporting vulnerable local people who can’t go out due to the coronavirus, including shopping, delivering medication, organising food parcels and ringing people for a friendly chat.
Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member who has special responsibility for overseeing volunteering during the pandemic, said:
“The kindness of our brilliant volunteers and community organisations always makes Calderdale such a special place. But this year, their support has been even more valuable – first helping local people through the devastating floods in February, and now supporting those most at risk from COVID-19.
“From making sure vulnerable people get essential support, to providing a listening ear on the phone, our volunteers are a vital lifeline to so many, and a major part of the joint response to the current crisis.
“So our message to Calderdale volunteers this Volunteers’ Week, throughout the pandemic and always, is: ‘Thank you so much for everything you do – we couldn’t do it without you.’”
Volunteers are important ‘eyes and ears’ in our communities, helping to shape the support that the Council and other organisations are offering local people. For example, volunteers’ feedback on how isolated some people feel during the outbreak has led to the Council expanding its befriending scheme. Nearly 80 volunteers signed up to become telephone befrienders in less than 24 hours.
During Volunteers’ Week, the Council is also thanking the many volunteers who may not be able to carry out their usual roles at the moment, such as those who support sports clubs, museums, libraries and parks. They all help to strengthen our communities and will be vital to the recovery from the pandemic and the ‘new normal’. The Council will support them to return to their roles safely in the coming months.
Volunteering is the perfect example of the Vision2024 for Calderdale themes of kindness and resilience. It spreads the borough’s brilliant community spirit, and helping others makes you feel great and more resilient.
Calderdale volunteering stories
Ella King usually works for Calderdale Council’s Corporate Asset and Facilities Management team, but is currently supporting the virtual Volunteer Hub, which was set up to support vulnerable people during the pandemic. Whilst coordinating requests from people wanting to volunteer, Ella was inspired to volunteer herself, and she now regularly supports an elderly lady who lives nearby. Ella says:
“The sheer amount of volunteers coming forward has been amazing! I decided that I should also register myself to become a volunteer.
“Since then I’ve been supporting a lady who lives near me by collecting her shopping when she needs me to. I stay in regular contact on the phone to see if she needs any more help from me.
“The volunteers are invaluable and have really shown the true community spirit and kindness we have here in Calderdale. I am so proud to be involved.”
The Halifax Opportunities Trust ‘Halifax Central’ Staying Well team has been providing food parcels and making befriending calls to the most vulnerable people in the community throughout the pandemic. Gulbaz Khan has been regularly contacting an 80-year-old lady who lives alone, feels isolated and is struggling with her emotional health. Gulbaz was running a little late for one of their phone conversations one day due to an urgent matter. The lady called the Staying Well team and said:
“I usually receive a call from Gulbaz every week and he checks to see how I’m doing. He is a gentleman and I look forward to his call. I haven’t heard from him today so just wanted to make sure he is well and hope that everything is ok.”
The team explained that all was well, they appreciated her concern and Gulbaz would be calling her later that day. The team felt this was a true act of kindness – despite how the lady is feeling, she wanted to check on the welfare of her befriender. Truly amazing!
Calderdale Council is still calling for people to volunteer. To register your interest in volunteering, or to seek support during the pandemic, please visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/community-support, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01422 392890.
The Council urges all volunteers to follow the guidance on safe volunteering.
For more information about Volunteers’ Week, visit https://volunteersweek.org/ and follow #VolunteersWeek on Twitter. Get involved and celebrate the volunteering that you are doing or seeing in Calderdale to support organisations and issues that are important to you and your community. Share your photos on Twitter using the hashtag #VolunteersWeek.
Attached photos: Ella King and Gulbaz Khan volunteering in Calderdale as part of the response to the coronavirus crisis.