Volunteer Week 2023!
In a world where acts of kindness and selflessness often go unnoticed, Volunteers Week takes the time to honour the invaluable contributions of volunteers. This annual celebration, observed in various countries during the first week of June, serves as a reminder of the remarkable impact volunteers make and the crucial role they play in supporting charities and communities. Join us as we delve into the essence of Volunteers Week, its significance, and why volunteers are important to charitable organizations.
What is Volunteers Week?
Volunteers Week is celebrated between the 1st and 7th of June every year. It is a week in which the UK celebrates volunteers and says thank you to them for the contribution that they make. The week also raises awareness about the benefits of becoming a volunteer and the diverse volunteering roles that are available.
First established in 1984 by Volunteering England, the event is now coordinated by NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organizations). During the week stories about volunteering are shared on social media and hundreds of celebrations and events take place. Every Volunteers Week has a different theme which is designed to help organizations think about how they can successfully open up volunteering opportunities to all and increase diversity in their volunteer base and trustees. This year’s theme is: Celebrate and Inspire.
Why do we celebrate Volunteers Week?
Volunteers are always active at the heart of every UK community. So, taking the time during Volunteers’ Week to celebrate and recognize their efforts and all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector and society as a whole have never been more important.
Every year hundreds of events, both online and in–person, take place to celebrate Volunteers’ Week and the huge range of ways in which volunteers give their time. This year will be no different.
The Importance of Volunteers to Charities
- Volunteers: The Backbone of Charitable Organizations
Charitable organizations rely on volunteers to ensure the smooth operation of their programs and services. In fact, a staggering 91% of charities in the United Kingdom are run entirely by volunteers, according to a study by the National Council for Voluntary Organizations. Volunteers become an integral part of the organizational structure, driving the mission forward with their dedication and enthusiasm.
- Cost-Effectiveness and Resource Optimization
One of the most tangible benefits of volunteers for charities lies in the cost savings they provide. By utilizing volunteers, organizations can significantly reduce operating expenses that would otherwise be allocated to employee salaries and benefits. Volunteers offer their time willingly, often working on holidays or outside regular business hours, providing valuable support without additional financial burden. This allows charities to allocate more resources to direct services and programs, maximizing their impact within the community.
- Enhanced Quality and Diversified Services
Volunteers bring unique skills and expertise that complement the capabilities of in-house staff. Their specialized knowledge in areas like technology, law, counseling, or socialization can elevate the quality and diversity of services provided by charitable organizations. Volunteers enable charities to expand their offerings, fill gaps in service provision, and meet specific community needs that may otherwise go unaddressed. With volunteers onboard, charities can provide more tailored and comprehensive support to their beneficiaries.
- Personalized Attention and Human Connection
Volunteers have the time and dedication to offer personalized attention to the individuals and communities they serve. Unlike busy professionals, volunteers often choose specific roles aligned with their interests and passions, enabling them to devote their undivided attention to the task at hand. Their genuine care and commitment foster a sense of human connection, building trust, empathy, and rapport with beneficiaries. This personal touch makes a significant difference in the lives of those who seek support from charitable organizations.
- Empowering Communities and Volunteer Recognition
Volunteers not only benefit charities but also contribute to their personal growth, well-being, and skills development. By volunteering, individuals become active participants in their communities, empowering themselves and those around them. It is essential for charities to recognize and appreciate the ongoing contributions of volunteers, expressing gratitude and acknowledging their crucial role. Regular feedback, appreciation events, and highlighting volunteer stories can foster a culture of recognition and encourage continued engagement.
From a Volunteer’s Perspective:
“When I saw Leeds Mencap hiring at a volunteer fair, I applied immediately, thinking it was a great opportunity to contribute to society and get more experience and skills at the same time. Since I started volunteering at Leeds Mencap, I have been enjoying it a lot. I love the atmosphere and people here. Everyone is so kind and helpful, which makes it a lovely place to work in. Through volunteering at Mencap, I get to learn a lot of new things like how a charitable organization works and meet more new people who can give me guidance, which I am very grateful for. Moreover, it brings me the opportunity to take on different tasks and responsibilities which can exercise my skills and put what I learned into practice. For example, I have created designed marketing materials, written informative blogs, and written beneficiary case studies. In a sentence, I just love volunteering in Leeds Mencap and adding my effort to the work to help people with learning disability live better life.”- Zijing Zhang- Marketing and Communications Volunteer
From a staff perspective:
“Volunteers are an incredibly important part of Leeds Mencap. We are lucky enough to have volunteers who offer their time and expertise in many ways across the organization from playscheme support, to marketing, to fundraising. Their support means that we can help as many young people with learning disabilities as possible and we are so grateful for all that they do. We not only benefit from their skills and time but from their presence too. All our volunteers are such a joy to work with and having volunteers means we get to work alongside people from all different walks of life and have a diverse range of opinions informing our work.”- Abi Hart, Senior Fundraiser
Volunteers’ Week shines a spotlight on the incredible contributions of volunteers and their indispensable role within charitable organizations. This annual celebration not only acknowledges their dedication but also serves as a catalyst to inspire others to join the ranks of volunteers. As we recognize the power of volunteerism, let us express our gratitude to the countless individuals who selflessly give their time and talents to make our world a better place. Together, we can create a society where acts of kindness and service are cherished and celebrated year-round.
If you’re interested in Volunteering for Leeds Mencap then check out our available volunteering positions here