My message for Volunteers’ Week

It is no exaggeration to say that Volunteers’ Week has become an institution. Now in its fourth decade, it not only provides a formidable showcase for the powerful work of volunteers in a myriad of causes, but increasingly encourages more and more new recruits to taste the satisfaction that helping others in the community can deliver. It is a taste that lingers irresistibly – the number of citizens (and I use that word in its proper sense of obligation to society) who choose to volunteer at least once a month has exceeded 20 million.

Democracy in action

Whether driven by a neighbourly passion to help others or to achieve a personal “high” of satisfaction, it is the finest example of real democracy in action – people voting with their feet not in response to the relatively long-delivery election promises of politicians, but to identify and tackle immediately an issue on their doorstep or in society at large.  Of the 164,000 registered charities that weave a web of support across our country, an amazing 90% have no paid staff.  And it is estimated that there are another 150,000 non-registered organisations also run entirely by volunteers.  They are all succoured and sustained by an army of people who get a real kick out of donating personal time and effort to help others.

A call to action

There are, of course, many other worthwhile weeks in the year devoted to creating awareness and support for one particular need or another, but, in a very real sense, Volunteers’ Week embraces them all, because it places no limits on the inspiring projects or simple contributions that tempt so many to the cause of their choice.

Above all, it is a life-enhancing experience for the volunteers as well as the beneficiaries – so pick your cause, your organisation or simply your own idea and kick-start or enhance your contribution to the lifeblood of our country.

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Martyn Lewis Sir Martyn Lewis CBE is the chairman of NCVO’s trustee board. His knowledge and experience in the voluntary sector spans 32 years.

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