Final thoughts . . .

What a week. 

From every Volunteer Week I take away the warmth and generosity of the individuals in the organisations I visit.  This Volunteer Week was no exception.

And I have learnt lots.  For instance, the extent of the therapeutic nature of horse riding, the type of cases which the Citizens Advice Bureau deal with and the challenges we may face within our society as our population ages.

But above all, I have been struck by the great work done by some magnificent organisations across our community and the warm welcome of the many volunteers I have met.

Our area would be poorer without their work and the volunteers told me that their lives would be poorer without the volunteering they do.  So I hope many more will draw inspiration from this Volunteer Week and get involved in their local community.

Thanks to all the organisations who hosted my visits and all the individuals who I met and made me so welcome.

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The books stop here. Bilton Library volunteering.

Bilton and Woodfield Community library – a great success story.  Just a short time ago the library seemed certain to close as funding was withdrawn by North Yorkshire County Council.

But the community and local councillors stepped in and worked with the County Council to find a solution to keep this valued community facility open.

The library now runs largely with the support of volunteers from the nearby community.  And it is well worth support with a dedicated children’s library and many other well-used facilities.

I wanted to go and help out in recognition of the sterling work being done to maintain the library.  I was working with three other volunteers putting returned books back on the shelves and ensuring the children’s library was displayed in catalogue order.

I can guarantee that volunteering at Bilton and Woodfield library will introduce you to many new people who will become firm friends and who are also your neighbours in the local community.

And, in case anyone wondered, crime fiction is the most popular genre of book with the library-users.

The photo with this post is from the official opening of the community library earlier this year.

A great end to another interesting, busy and enjoyable volunteer week.

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Harrogate Park Run – busy despite the weather

So to the last day of Volunteer Week 2012 – and to Harrogate Park Run.

Park Runs have started all over the country and the Harrogate Park Run is a relatively new addition to the Park Run family.  It was a short walk across the Stray from my home to meet the team of organisers, marshalls and scorers on a pretty murky and occasionally rainy morning.

It is quite a sophisticated operation and I was at the finish line as a ‘numbers assistant’ with Anne – one of the regular helpers.  Each runner downloads and prints a bar code before the run.  At around 9am the run starts and its 5 kilometres around the lower part of York Place Stray.

The were around 160 runners and finish times range from 16 minutes to 44 minutes.

As they pass the finish line each runner is given a barcoded tab which – combined with the barcode they printed gives them their time and position on the leaderboard.

Helpers can be of any age so there is absolutely no necessity to be a fitness fanatic or marathon runner.  And these events simply don’t happen without volunteers which – particularly on something like an organised run – is easy to forget.

If you want to volunteer with Harrogate Park Run then email HarrogateHelpers@parkrun.com and find out more by visiting their website at www.parkrun.org.uk/harrogate/home.

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Volunteer Week goes multimedia!

Some audio and video from Volunteer Week.

The Harrogate Hospital Radio show is available at:

www.harrogatehospitalradio.org.uk/listen/

and some video at the Scope Shop in Knaresborough courtesy of the Harrogate Advertiser and Knaresborough Post:

www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/community/your-community/video-mp-s-bid-to-boost-volunteering-1-5137899

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At the Citizen’s Advice Bureau

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) is a key part of people getting advice often to cope with changes in their circumstances.  Of all the cases with which the CAB deal, benefits and debt are the top two issues raised.

At the beginning of my stint with the CAB I sat in with the reception team.  Clients went through an initial assessment and then were signposted to other CAB services.

I was also fortunate to be allowed to sit in on two interviews between CAB advisers and clients.  Training and professionalism were strongly in evidence particularly in dealing with often complex cases and distressed people.

Harrogate CAB is preparing to move to new purpose-built headquarters near the ODEON cinema.  There is clearly a lot of preparation going on for the move.

I am Patron of the project and am pleased to see that preparations are moving on apace.  Much of the preparatory work is to ensure that the CAB service will move to the new headquarters quickly and efficiently so to provide continuity of service to clients.

Another interesting and rewarding Volunteer Week visit.  Anyone wanting to volunteer with Harrogate CAB can contact them via their website.

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Helping at Knaresborough Scope Shop

I have just been at the Scope UK charity shop in Knaresborough, helping the volunteers on the shop floor and sorting donations in the back room.

Scope UK is a charity that work with disabled people and their families at every stage of their lives to ensure that they can have the same opportunities as everyone else.

I first helped by handing out donation bags, these are for people to fill and bring back to the shop with any unwanted items. I then worked upstairs where all the donation bags are emptied and sorted into different areas.

It is important for charities like Scope not only to get the charitable donations but also to have the volunteers to keep the shop running. In the Knaresborough store they have helpers of all ages some of whom have disabilities themselves and the volunteers I met certainly enjoyed helping out.

What some people don’t realise is that working in a charity shop is also a great way for young people to gain practical, hands-on experience in the retail industry.

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Delivering meals with Harrogate Neighbours

I have just been delivering meals for the elderly with the Harrogate Neighbours Housing Association, through their Food Angels arm, and have met some wonderful people.

All the food that is delivered is freshly prepared and cooked at Greenfield Court by the Harrogate Neighbours team, and then a team of volunteers go out and deliver them to the home so that when it arrives the food is hot and nourishing.  And they do this every day.

We were delivering to some of the more elderly in our community, and it was clear how much they welcomed the arrival of the Food Angels. It was not just for the food, however, the visit and the company was also very important. They really do appreciate having someone take the time to come into their home and talk to them and set them up for what could be their only hot meal of the day.

I went out with a volunteer called Steve who has been delivering with the Food Angels since they started this arm of the Association and has built friendships with the people he delivers to and they are happy to see him.

Food Angels are seeing more and more demand for their service. It is easy to see why.

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