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National Volunteers’ Week: the importance of volunteering

Volunteers Week 2017

National Volunteers’ Week, organised by NCVO, runs from the 1-7 June to celebrate the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. Here we speak to Amanda Meachin, CEO of Boost delivery partner Community & Business Partners about the importance of volunteers to her organisation.

How many volunteers work for Community & Business Partners?

Loads! We’ve got over 250 volunteers working on our behalf, across a range of different roles.

What sort of roles?

It’s really varied, due to the diverse nature of what we do, but examples include: Our growth mentors – over 200 businesspeople from a range of backgrounds, with incredibly valuable experience, who volunteer their time to mentor ambitious Lancashire businesses as part of Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme.

Over twenty volunteers support the three staff at SAMS and the Energy Zone – who sort, catalogue and re-purpose unwanted stock and waste materials into valuable materials for businesses, individuals and community groups. There is an unbelievable amount of hard work in keeping this Aladdin’s cave of creative materials stocked, and the whole team would be lost without our volunteersSAMS - Art supplies shop

What impact can volunteers have on their local community?

The impacts can be huge. For example, our mentors have utilised their expertise gained over years in business to help hundreds of Lancashire businesses to develop and implement growth plans – creating new jobs and growing the Lancashire economy.

Another example is our Waste Not Want Not project whereby local businesses donate unwanted food which is made available for local communities, either free or heavily subsidised from a Regional Foodshare Programme, at our Energy Zone premises. Many families have come to depend on this vital support – almost all of which is facilitated by volunteers.

What motivates people to volunteer?

In our experience, volunteers tend to fall into one of three distinct and inextricably linked groups:

  • The donors – Donors give their skills and knowledge to groups that need assistance. They have a social conscience and are often driven by the ‘feel-good factor’ of giving something back.
  • The doers – Doers are at the sharp end of volunteering. They do all the jobs that makes sure organisations function. They also volunteer to build their skills, learn and gain qualifications.
  • The game-changers – Game-changers respond to injustice and have passion for a cause, often driven from a life experience or injustice impacting them, or someone close to them. They challenge decisions, drive change and lobby whenever possible.

We’re hugely grateful to our volunteers and do everything we can to encourage and support them – whether that is providing transport to help them get to work, flexible working patterns to support their commitments or give them opportunities to develop new skills. Ultimately, volunteering provides its own rewards.

How important are your volunteers?

Without volunteers we’d be unable to do what we do – they are the lifeblood of Community & Business Partners.

How can Lancashire businesses help Community & Business Partners?

There are lots of ways that Lancashire businesses can support us, here are just three suggestions:

Volunteer We’re always looking for volunteers to lend us their support and the benefit of their skills. If there are any business owners or managers looking for an opportunity for their business to give something back, they should contact us.

Donate We already have a number of businesses in Lancashire and across the UK who donate products that they can’t use to us to be re-purposed rather than going to landfill. Donating companies reduce their carbon footprint, develop corporate social responsibility and minimise disposal costs so improving profit.

For example, offcut textiles or ribbon might be bought by fashion design students, leftover clay from a pottery business could be art supplies for local schools and old wood and paints could be repackaged as art and craft kits for schools and clubs. Any Lancashire business looking to reduce waste and support our work should get in touch

SAMS - Donations from businesses

Support us We’re hosting a charity networking lunch for Lancashire businesses on the 9th June at the Oyster and Otter to raise funds to support charitable activities and recognise the work our volunteers do. We want to see as many Lancashire businesses there as possible to build their network whilst supporting an incredible cause.

You can find out more about Community & Business Partners and their volunteering-driven projects by visiting https://www.cbpartners.org.

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