Time to celebrate

Sir Stuart Etherington Each year, I see Volunteers’ Week get bigger and bigger and this year’s 35th Volunteers’ Week is no different. More events registered on the Volunteers’ Week website, a focus on a more diverse array of volunteering, and more people sharing their celebrations on social media.

Celebrating volunteering is Time Well Spent

This year, Volunteers’ Week reminded us of the importance of taking time to celebrate volunteers – and there is much to celebrate. Earlier this year, NCVO published Time Well Spent. This research gives us a unique view of what the British public think of volunteering – and it tells us that volunteers are overwhelmingly satisfied with what they do. Also, the most satisfied volunteers are those who are recognised and thanked by their organisations. This is a reminder of why Volunteers’ Week is so important.

Time Well Spent also confirmed for us that not all volunteering is created equal. Indeed, we all perhaps have a fixed view in our minds of what volunteering is and isn’t. These views are both a sign of our times as well as how giving back has been a part of our lives growing up. One trend is that less and less people seem to want to give their time on a regular ongoing basis. Also, too much formality around volunteering has made some volunteers feel like it is too much like paid work. For us, this is a sign that there is much more to be done in recognising, supporting and celebrating the many ways people volunteer to the causes they love.

Where you are

Volunteers week celebrations

This year’s Volunteers’ Week is particularly special for us as this year is NCVO’s centenary year. This has given us pause to think of the impact we’ve made over the last hundred years, and what’s in store for the future. One thing we hear time and time again is the importance of voluntary action in local communities. Time Well Spent has also confirmed for us that 8 in 10 people volunteer in their local communities.

To keep Volunteers’ Week as powerful as it can be, we’re proud this national campaign has such an impact locally. We’re thrilled to be working alongside colleagues from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Volunteer Centres and volunteer-involving organisations to make sure Volunteers’ Week stays relevant. We’ve also had hundreds of events registered on the Volunteers’ Week website which goes to show just how important this week is. For that, I’d like to say thank you to them and we’re looking forward to working with you next year.

Volunteers week map

We’re also glad to see the great pictures being shared using the hundreds of #NCVO100 selfie frames we’ve shared.

Celebrating and thanking all volunteers across the nation is a huge undertaking. We’ll carry on celebrating the great stuff being done by volunteers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Do also take a look at the array of volunteering stories celebrating individuals from far and wide.

One last thing

You may remember one of these stories about the charity, Room to Reward, celebrating hidden heroes. For NCVO’s centenary, we’re also nominating a hidden hero from one of our members, Audrey Thomson, from Westminster Befriend a Family (WBAF). Audrey has been volunteering with WBAF for 18 months. Catherine Mahony, director of WBAF says, ‘After all the efforts she makes to come volunteer with us, we couldn’t manage without her contribution. I’d love to see her go and put her feet up somewhere nice for the weekend.’ Thanks Audrey and all of the other millions of volunteers out there. And remember, thanking volunteers is for life, not just for Volunteers’ Week.

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Avatar photo Sir Stuart Etherington was chief executive of NCVO from 1994 to 2019.

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