What is volunteering?
Volunteering is any activity that involves willingly giving time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit people or the environment.
Every day of every year thousands of volunteers make an incredible contribution to improving our health and well-being. It’s estimated there are over 10,000 charities and voluntary service organisations across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Volunteers come from a huge range of backgrounds and reflect the diversity of our communities. If you want to gain useful experience while job hunting or if you want to support career development in health and social care, volunteering can really make a difference for you and to the services we deliver.
If you do not find the volunteering opportunity you are looking for within your area or if you live on the boundary of two or more areas take a look at the neighbouring area if its not too far away.
Please click here, to see a short video showing the many ways you could benefit from Volunteering.
Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life. Volunteering is an excellent way of achieving all of these and improving your wellbeing!
Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity.
Volunteering can make a real difference to your own life and the lives of those around you. It improves and strengthens local communities and can have a transformative effect for those who are recipients of support from volunteers.
To find out more about this click here to read the NHS five steps to mental health wellbeing.
Want to know more?
Here is an example from Active Lancashire about the ‘Chorley Activity Buddies’ initiative, which highlights such positive impact and outcomes.
There is no legal reason why young people age 16 and 17 years cannot volunteer, however children are classed as a ‘vulnerable group’, so any organisation who takes on young volunteers must be careful to protect them. Legally a child is defined as someone who is under 18 years old, or under 16 if employed.
Spending some time with elders or vulnerable adults can be very meaningful for under 16 year-olds. Preteens can volunteer but of course with adult supervision and in suitable safe environments. Learning the ethos of giving and helping others at a young age can help build character. Most organisations will have their own policy.
It is rare to need qualifications, but your skills, knowledge and experience will usually be of great interest to organisations. Sometimes they need specialist know-how like digital skills, including social media, project or time management, communication skills or finance and budgets and always they will look for sensitivity and discretion with personal information. Organisational skills are always useful too.
Usually your name and address and other details depending on what you are volunteering to do. They might need proof of your age or check your health for physically demanding roles. They will need to check your driving licence if you will be volunteer driving and also that your vehicle is road worthy. Organisations must treat your information in line with GDPR requirements and explain why they need information, how it will be stored and so on.
The Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector comprises thousands of small to large charitable organisations across the country. Data from the Charity Commission register indicates that volunteer numbers in the UK are estimated at over 3.46 million. It is estimated that in Lancashire and South Cumbria there are around 10,000 organisations providing a wide range of services including health and social care. There are approx. 350,000 regular volunteers and over 900,000 who have volunteered at least once. Volunteers come and go all the time so we are constantly in need of more volunteers whether an hour or two or much more. You can also volunteer in several organisations – you will always be welcome.
To find out more about volunteering in VCFSE organisations in your area it is best to contact the local Council of Voluntary Services (CVS) near you (see links below).
The VCFSE Alliance is a group made up of representatives from the VCFSE sector, Lancashire County Council, Health and Well-being Boards across Lancashire and South Cumbria. The role of the Alliance is to represent the VCFSE sector on the ICS Board and provide strategic leadership. Read more detail here
NHS Trusts rely on regular support from volunteers to carry out a wide range of roles. There are five main NHS Acute Trusts in East Lancashire, Blackpool, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Morecambe Bay and Lancashire & South Cumbria Foundation Trust. Volunteers are recruited and deployed through Trust volunteer coordinators. On average the five NHS Trusts utilise around 1500/2000 volunteers combined total at any one time. To find out more about volunteering in NHS Trust Voluntary Services see links below.
North West Ambulance Service have various opportunities to volunteer. Every day our non-emergency Patient Transport Service assists hundreds of people to attend a variety of medical appointments and this is supported by a dedicated team of volunteer car drivers. Volunteer Community First Responders are trained by the ambulance service and are allocated to certain emergencies in their local area alongside NWAS resources. Due to their proximity, they are often able to arrive first and save vital minutes in starting life-saving intervention. There is also a Patient and Public Panel to give members of the public a voice and the chance to have their views acted upon. The panel is made up of representatives from local communities, interest groups, the voluntary sector and partner organisations, and offers meaningful opportunities to influence improvements in our emergency, patient transport and 111 services. To find out more about volunteering in NWAS see links below.
In response to the Covid 19 pandemic NHSVR was set up very quickly by NHS England to provide transactional, task based support to existing VCFSE providers in health and social care using a digital App – Good Sam to quickly match volunteer responders to tasks such as shopping, prescriptions delivery, telephone befriending. The service is specifically for vulnerable people who are shielding. To find out more about volunteering in see links below.
There are twelve local authorities within Lancashire County Council and two unitary authorities: Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. The LAs each have a community hub to help organise their own volunteers – again a wide range of roles and work closely with the VCFSE sector to respond to community needs. It’s a great way to keep physically and mentally active, make friendships and put something back in to your community. A wide range of roles could be available from coastal beach clean-up to woodland rangers, volunteering with children through to the elderly, driving, reading, talking, shopping – the list could go on! To find out more about volunteering in Local Authority Services see links below.
The Lancashire Volunteer Partnership (LVP) was established in 2016 between public services who wanted to provide one gateway into public service volunteering. Their aim is to make volunteering for public services rewarding and to provide opportunities for people to make a real difference in their local communities. By bringing these opportunities into one place and by working together they believe they can look after their volunteers better and allow them to use their skills for the benefit of all. From visiting people who may be feeling lonely or supporting those who are struggling to get out and about independently, to giving a carer some respite, volunteering alongside the neighbourhood policing teams as a Special Constable, at a children’s centre or as a cadet group leader. To find out more about volunteering in the Lancashire Voluntary Partnership see links below.
Charities, community groups and non-profit organisations such as Age UK, Barnardo’s, British Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, the National Trust, The Prince’s Trust, and many more are in constant need of volunteers. You can also work in schools, hospitals and local community centres. Volunteering is possible in most roles, however, some organisations require experience and knowledge, so make sure you do some research before applying.
There are many ways and places you can volunteer locally across Lancashire & South Cumbria and beyond. They include:
Quid Squad – Volunteer Story I have been volunteering for the past 18 months for the Quit Squad. I really enjoy volunteering …
Grow Your Own: Volunteer project The project provides an outdoor area where people who use services and staff alike can go …
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