This week is Volunteers’ Week, an annual campaign that celebrates the contributions of volunteers all over the UK. This year’s Volunteers’ Week focuses on saying ‘Thank You’ to the millions of volunteers who regularly contribute to society.
So what better excuse for us to say thank you to our brilliant Gateway volunteers.
Our volunteers are all befrienders. They take time out of their own lives to help people who need a bit of extra support in theirs.
At Gateway, clients are referred to our befrienders programme by the Support Staff working on our other services, as well as partner organisations and GPs. Clients are carefully matched with volunteers based on interests and relevant experience along with practical considerations like where they live and their availability.
Rose had been a client of Gateway’s Pregnancy Outreach Workers service, but when her POW finished in April, Rose needed a bit more help. A French speaker with few friends and family around her, she said at the time:
“I am alone in this country. I do not speak English and I need support like having someone to go out with me or to talk to.”
So Gateway matched Rose with a volunteer befriender – Judith, who also speaks French.
Rose’s feedback is full of thanks for the help that Judith gave her with the sort of everyday things that people take for granted – things like:
“You helped me to open my bank account. I didn’t know how to do it. I do not have worries any more.”
“You helped me with the bus. I’ll be able to go out without worrying too much now that I have that map.”
As the Volunteers’ Week website says: “Every year, millions of people help others in all sorts of ways, most of which they probably wouldn’t even think of as volunteering. This makes a crucial contribution to binding our communities, building cooperation and trust between individuals, and helping to make our communities better places to live and work.”
This type of support is invaluable. So – thank you, Judith, and thank you to all the volunteers who give their time for others.
Of course, we have our own annual event coming up at the end of June where we hope to be able to say “thank you” in style – our annual Gateway Gala. This year’s event will be a garden party, where we will celebrate the achievements of not just our volunteers but all of our staff and clients.