During the Covid pandemic, volunteers stepped up by the thousand across the country to help in their communities, to take food parcels to those self-isolating, to drive people to hospital, to check on neighbours. My husband and I signed up to the national Royal Voluntary Service, picking up medicines from pharmacies and delivering them to residents who couldn’t get out. Many of us did, and we willingly jumped up to the sound of the ‘GoodSAM siren’ on our phones when it called for action!
However, it would appear that since we have gone back to a more normal way of life, the public’s willingness to volunteer has waned. On talking to many of the community groups around my county council division, almost every one of them is struggling to find volunteers. This is a great pity because there are some fantastic organisations out there, on your doorstep, struggling to provide their much-needed services every day. Services we may all benefit from at some time in our lives.
So, I am putting out a challenge to every one of you reading this article. This New Year, become a volunteer! It is also a fact that volunteering gives you a positive feeling of wellbeing, so it is good for you too.
Do you have your own car and like driving? Your voluntary driving organisations in Hordle and Milford, serving Everton, are desperate to find new drivers to take elderly people to hospital appointments. Milford Volunteer Drivers 07716-118914 Hordle Volunteer Driver Group 0345-388 9063
Community Associations, Residents’ Associations and Social Clubs often don’t have enough volunteers to run coffee mornings and other activities for those who would benefit from the company of others or a chat over a cuppa. Everton Community Association – ECAcommittee@outlook.com
Our conservation organisations are short of new volunteers willing to work with the natural environment locally, planting wildflowers and looking after our wildlife-rich local meadows and bird habitats. If you have outdoor skills (or would like to learn them) and want to genuinely help the environment and wildlife, this is the work to get involved in! Milford Conservation Volunteers 01425-614998
And our local churches need volunteers to help with services, with important pastoral work in our communities, running Sunday Schools and even undertaking small maintenance work. All Saints, Milford & St Mary’s, Everton 01590-644992 – and, of course, there are other churches in the area who need help.
The groups listed above are just some of those who would appreciate your volunteer support locally. Or you might want to volunteer to work with an animal rescue centre. Or you may have the skills to help with your local Brownies or Scouts or run art or music sessions for people with learning disabilities. Volunteerfirst.co.uk is a website that will give you ideas for broader volunteering opportunities across the New Forest. They also suggest volunteering roles for young people aged 13 to 17.
So please resolve to do something really worthwhile in 2023. Offer your time to one of our wonderful local groups, help others and enjoy making new friends. Let’s get volunteering going again! Every little helps – and an hour or two of your time could make a huge difference to our voluntary organisations and those they support.
Wishing you all a fulfilled and Happy New Year!Cllr Fran Carpenter