Volunteers’ Week: The Big Celebration

Part of NCVO’s Volunteers’ Week 2016 series.

Time for a Big Celebration!

One of the best things about our work here at NCVO is when we get to hear about the fantastic stuff that people do up and down the country every day, often with little or no fanfare, just quietly making a difference. It often reminds me of the oft-repeated expression, ‘we have a strategic plan around here. It’s called doing things’. 

Well, I reckon Volunteers’ Week is all about the people who are doing things. And getting things done. And about us – you and me – celebrating that and saying thank you. And we certainly can’t do that enough – having just taken responsibility at NCVO for our work around volunteering, it’s interesting to see the connections between different bits of work, and it’s noticeable that in the fundraising world there’s an awful lot of discussion about how we say thank you to people who give their money (and whether we say thank you enough).

I hope we’re doing ok at saying thank you to people who give their time. Just in case we aren’t, we have a cunning plan for this year’s Volunteers’ Week. This year it’s a bit longer, running from 1-12 June, with the end coinciding with the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. Her Majesty The Queen will herself help celebrate the contribution of volunteers to the charities she is associated with at the Patron’s Lunch on Pall Mall.

It’s fantastic that so many volunteers will be recognised during the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, but just as important are the celebrations taking place everywhere across the country. The map of local events for 2016 is starting to look rather crowded!  There’s still time to run your own event to celebrate volunteering, however small, and we’ve got stuff to help you do it over at the Volunteers’ Week website.

And lots of people want to do something great…

In case you’ve missed it, Volunteers Week this year is running at the same time as the BBC’s Do Something Great! season of programmes, which are a fantastic opportunity for us all to raise the profile of volunteering and celebrate volunteering in all its forms.

Interestingly, I began writing this on the way back from a meeting of the British-Irish Volunteering Forum, where a theme that emerged is the opportunity for us to raise the profile of volunteering and recognise more the contributions of the many who don’t really consider what they do to be volunteering. A hardy perennial perhaps, but one worth taking forward.

do something great

A thank you from me

On that note, a couple of thank yous from me. Thank you to the conservation volunteers who maintain The Nickey Line, a former railway route, where I occasionally bike around in a forlorn attempt to get fit. The Friends of the Nickey Line do a fantastic job to preserve a brilliant amenity open to all (the picture below was taken during the installation of a new wildlife interpretation board).

Nickey Line Friends installing the Wildlife Interpretation Board

And also a thank you to the volunteer fundraiser from Parkinson’s UK who took the time recently to write a wonderful handwritten note to my family to say thank you for money we had raised. At a time when much about fundraising is a cause of public disquiet, this volunteer exemplified everything that is brilliant about fundraising.

Join us and celebrate volunteering

So, time to celebrate and thank all those people out there who, whether every day or every year, are giving their time to the community, to get things done for the causes they care about. People who every day, often unnoticed, are doing things. I hope that by joining us during Volunteers’ Week you’ll help us to help them make a bigger difference to the causes they and we all care about.

 

Images: Friends of the Nickey Line, BBC

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Karl Wilding Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering, leads NCVO's volunteering, policy, research and campaigning work in the UK and internationally. With lead responsibility for shaping the external environment for the voluntary sector, he blogs about the big issues facing voluntary organisations.

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