New year… volunteer!

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Residents and businesses of East Hampshire will have the opportunity to learn more about how they can help the local voluntary organisations and charities which give so much to the district at a special event planned for January.

As the new year approaches, what’s a better new year’s resolution than to give back to your community, improve people’s lives and make a difference? 

East Hampshire District Council is organising the ‘Volunteer 2day!’ event as part of its commitment to supporting the voluntary sector and giving back to the organisations that work hard to improve the lives of so many residents. 

The idea of the event is to encourage volunteering and match willing volunteers with local charities and voluntary groups. 

To be held at EHDC’s Council Chamber on Tuesday 8 January from 12-2pm, the charities and organisations will have a chance to set out a stall and promote their cause and the work they do – EHDC staff and residents will then have the opportunity to learn more about the volunteering opportunities on offer and sign up. 

Cllr Julie Butler, Deputy Leader of EHDC and Portfolio Holder for Welfare and Communities, said: “Local volunteers are the heartbeat of our communities. These organisations and charities rely entirely on local people giving up their time to support and help others. Without these people, the charities and organisations that provide such amazing services wouldn’t exist!

"The Volunteer 2day event is a great chance for anyone who wants to give back to their community or support a cause that’s close to their heart to find out how they can help and what volunteering opportunities are available. 

“It’s fantastic that EHDC is organising this event to continue supporting the voluntary sector and ‘match-make’ the perfect volunteers with the perfect organisation. It’s a win-win!” 

EHDC recently launched its Business Buddies scheme to match local businesses with charities for support, advice and guidance. The event in January will also be a great opportunity for local businesses, which haven’t already signed up to the scheme and want to make a difference to their community, to attend and see how they can help the charities. 

EHDC also has a Volunteer Leave Scheme, which allows all officers employed by the council two days of extra leave a year to volunteer and help local charities or community groups. 

Staff have used the scheme to help out at youth clubs, senior citizens groups, guides camps, schools and charity events.

Tracey Wood, Head of Housing and Community Engagement, Emma Carlyle, Executive Team PA and Megan Toms, from EHDC’s Land Charges team, all used the scheme last week week to help Petersfield-based charity FitzRoy, which supports people with learning disabilities and autism. 

The trio, along with Cllr Julie Butler, stepped in last minute to help in the charity’s pop-up Christmas shop in Lavant Street when it was short of volunteers.

Their duties included selling Christmas stock - most of which was made by people the charity supports, helping to look after the shop, supporting children's activities – which included gingerbread decorating and writing santa letters, as well as assisting and overseeing bookings for the santa grotto and photo studio.

Jim Apted, FitzRoy’s Community Fundraising Coordinator, said: “We needed some last-minute volunteers to ensure the pop-up shop would run smoothly and EHDC jumped at the chance to help! It's great that the district council continues to support its local voluntary organisations.”

Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Leader, is a strong supporter of the initiative and said: “The volunteer scheme gives employees the opportunity to pick up new skills and experience a different working environment while also contributing something directly to the community. As a result, we have more rounded staff with a broader range of experiences, skills and interests and a community which benefits from a strong charitable sector supported by its local council.” 

If you are a charity or voluntary organisation that would like a stall at the event, please contact Lucy Whittle, EHDC Community Officer, on lucy.whittle@easthants.gov.uk, if you’re interested in volunteering just turn up on the day and see what fantastic opportunities are on offer.