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The power of volunteering

Whether it’s helping out a neighbour, supporting a local group or being part of a national organisation, volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of millions of people and we’ve never seen it more than over recent weeks. 

See below for examples of this.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic the country has come together, demonstrating its willingness to volunteer in every form, from individual acts of kindness through to huge community responses and we would like to take the opportunity this volunteer’s week to say thank you to each and every one of you no matter how small you feel you contribution may have been.

Across the Frimley Health and Care Integrated care system we have relationships with a number of Councils for Voluntary services and the local charities they support, so see first-hand the vital role that volunteers can play.

Volunteering contributes more than £22 billion to the UK economy, with nearly 20 million people volunteering at least once a year but it’s about more than money.  Volunteering your time of course benefits others, a cause or the environment but did you know it’s good for you too?  This year’s mental health awareness week (18th-24th May) focused on kindness and produced a guide which explains the benefits of volunteering too.

Within our own organisations, we have many ways for local people to get involved, either within a regular opportunity at a clinical setting like the Frimley park A&E volunteers or by becoming involved with the decisions made about local NHS services. To date, the contribution that individuals and groups have made to these requests for involvement have really made a difference in the way services are delivered and the care that patients receive. 

Just before lockdown was implemented we asked our Community Panel (a group of people who volunteer to complete surveys) about their experiences and views on volunteering 30% of people told us a lack of time was the main challenge or barrier to them volunteering but has the current pandemic changed people’s views of what volunteering is? and would more now consider small acts as volunteering? You can read more about our findings HERE and keep a look out for the results of our current survey which will be testing these questions with panel.

If you are looking for more information in your local area on volunteer organisations or opportunities please click HERE

Volunteers’ Week celebrates the borough’s unsung heroes

The past few months have been like no other in Bracknell Forest’s history and, as the borough prepares to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the support of volunteers and voluntary and community organisations is more important than ever.

To mark Volunteers’ Week (Monday 1 June to Sunday 7 June), the council and its partners are celebrating all those who have given their time to help their community during the pandemic.

Since mid-March, more than 1,800 people have signed up to volunteer in Bracknell Forest, with thousands of hours being given to support the community. The volunteers are managed by Healthwatch Bracknell Forest and Involve Community Services with Involve also supporting charitable and voluntary organisations to ensure their services are still available to help residents after the crisis.

One example of how volunteers are helping the community during the pandemic is via the Bracknell Forest Community Response, which launched in March to support vulnerable people who are shielding or self-isolating during the pandemic. The response is a partnership between the council, Healthwatch Bracknell Forest and Involve Community Services and is supported by town and parish councils. Volunteers have helped with tasks such as food deliveries, picking up prescriptions, dog walking or simply being a friendly voice at the end of the phone to reduce social isolation.

Cllr Paul Bettison, OBE, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said: “The commitment of Bracknell Forest’s volunteers is truly awe-inspiring and I’m extremely grateful for their dedication to supporting the community, particularly during its hour of need. Thank you to each and every one of you.

“As we look ahead to Bracknell Forest’s recovery from the pandemic, the role of the voluntary and community sector and our army of volunteers will be more important than ever. If you are interested in volunteering longer term, I’d urge you to get in touch with Involve to find out how you can help the community and sign up to the volunteer pool – even a small amount of time can make a big difference in supporting those who need it.”

For information on volunteering opportunities see the links on our community support pages.

Frimley Health and Care