All volunteers are winners

Coun Lawton
Coun Lawton
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CABINET CALL: By South Holland District Councillor Christine Lawton

My housing portfolio at South Holland District Council also includeshealth and well-being, and I was recently delighted to sponsor one of the four categories at the South Holland Health Awards.

At this inaugural event, volunteers were recognised for the outstanding contribution they have made to community life.

At the recent Pride in South Holland Awards, large numbers of volunteers were nominated, celebrating the best in our district and their ages ranged from nine to 90. In my view, they are all winners.

Not everyone gets the recognition they deserve. There are many unsung heroes whose efforts make such a difference.

In my own experience, I know of a pensioner who worked (and retired) from a small charity shop.

She found her retirement a mixed blessing and now volunteers as a stroke befriender.

A local business quietly provides refreshments for a nearby church, a young councillor gathers a group of volunteers to clean up parts of the town, and the street pastors look after young people at night. The ways of helping are many and varied.

June saw the celebration of National Volunteers’ Week, which recognised the enormous contribution made by the voluntary sector to society.

The BBC recently put the value of the voluntary sector at some £50billion, making this sector as big as the energy industry. There are an estimated 765,000 people who work with and for voluntary organisations.

This ‘third sector’ – sitting between the state and the private sector – provides an excellent outlet for a variety of skills, but I prefer to concentrate on local volunteers who make a difference in so many ways to our communities and neighbourhoods.

There is evidence that volunteering improves self-esteem, reduces social isolation and improves skills: it is a two-way street.

Loneliness, especially among the elderly, is a growing problem and the clubs and societies which help to counter this isolation do not run themselves.

There are always volunteers needed to help with the administration and transport and I am sure there are many recently retired people who have the skills and willingness to help.

Whatever time you can give to a good cause, ‘every little helps’ as they say.