The two-way benefits of volunteering

Volunteer Dudley Ford
Volunteer Dudley Ford
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With opportunities to learn skills as varied as bell ringing and blacksmithing currently available, there’s a lot to be gained through volunteering in South Holland.

The charity Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS) works to help community groups achieve their goals and find and retain volunteers.

Volunteer Esther Howard

Volunteer Esther Howard

Chain Bridge Forge Museum, in High Street, Spalding, is one of the many organisations reliant on volunteers. But it’s not just the forge that gains when people volunteer, as director Geoff Taylor explains.

He said: “We have been open five years and have had around 100 volunteers work with us in roles from directors through to blacksmiths, working on our 3D printers and doing history research.

“For many it’s that tick in a box that says ‘I have spent time in a working environment and got that experience’.”

The forge currently needs people both interested in learning blacksmithing skills and those who already have them

Dudley Long (26) has been helping at the forge since last April when, after being made redundant from a youth worker role, he was advised volunteering may be a good interim measure.

He said: “I’m now usually here two days a week. I’d love to find a way to make a living out of this, perhaps working with schools.

“Coming to the forge has given me a purpose and helped me stretch and develop my skills and gain new confidence.”

The Lighthouse Project in Spalding, which works to support vulnerable young people and has a fundraising shop and cafe in Sheep Market and furniture recycling store in Westlode Street, is another organisation LCVS helps recruit volunteers to.

Esther Howard (19) was supported through a struggle with depression and anxiety by The Lighthouse Project and volunteering in the shop has helped build her confidence.

Initially, she could only manage a couple of days a week and found it overwhelming but has built up to full time and now has hopes of finding paid work.

Esther said: “I volunteer because I want to give back to the charity that has supported me. Working here, my confidence has grown and I’ve learnt the people skills that I needed. Two years later I have just started running the shop.”

LCVS recently linked Richard Mister (55) of Fulney Lane North, Spalding, with The Lighthouse Project as a driver collecting and delivering furniture and goods.

He began volunteering after a stint of unemployment when he was made redundant from a coal yard in 2012.

He is also now volunteering with Age UK Spalding as an escort on its minibuses.

He said: “I needed to get my motivation back and stay connected to the outside world. I wish I could spend the rest of my life doing voluntary work. It gives you so much satisfaction. “

St Mary and St Nicolas Church is desperately looking for people – churchgoers or otherwise – to help keep its bells ringing.

A timebanking scheme – SHARE, South Holland Actions Rewarding Everyone – encouraging people to offer their skills an hour or two at a time in exchange for credits to benefit from the skills of others in equal time quantities, is also getting off the ground in South Holland. And volunteers are needed to help promote the scheme and help it to run efficiently.

To find out more contact LCVS at its Spalding office on 01205 510888 ext 3 or email enquiry@lincolnshirecvs.org.uk