volunteers

Platinum_Jubilee_celebrations

Jubilant volunteers celebrate Platinum Jubilee

A small group of volunteers were invited to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this month, representing the many wonderful Surrey volunteers who gave their time, expertise and energy during the Covid-19 pandemic.Joanna Gordon was one of the group who were invited. Joanna, who volunteered at the Walton vaccine centre, said, “The palace celebrations were fab and I was so honoured to have been chosen.  

“A truly incredible group of people came together when the call went out for help, making volunteering both rewarding and good fun in equal measures. Not only did I feel I was making an invaluable contribution to the national campaign to fight the virus, but I met an amazing group of volunteers as well as dedicated healthcare staff. We worked tirelessly, together, with good humour, positivity and efficiency to deal daily with the wide variety of questions and anxieties faced by a local community going through an unprecedented vaccine programme - but also found time to enjoy all the lovely treats they kept bringing in to thank us! I know I speak for all Walton volunteers when I say it was a delight to volunteer and we're proud to have been a part of the vaccination programme.”  

Roberta Davenport, another volunteer who attended the celebrations, agreed: "To see London shut down was a spectacle to behold. We started off at St James’ Palace, took a picnic, went to the Mall, made our way to Green Park. We ended up in the press corner at the back of Buckingham Palace and watched all sorts of people come in including Prince Charles and Zara Phillips. It was an amazing privilege to be there." 

She added, “I started volunteering early on in the pandemic after I lost my husband. I needed to do something and found out about the initiative at Surrey Heath, providing residents with flu vaccinations to begin with and then later the Covid vaccine. 

“I’ve enjoyed the volunteering, I’m going to keep on doing it. I’ve met some amazing people” 

Voluntary Support North Surrey have supported five vaccination centres across the region with recruiting and scheduling volunteers. Over the last 12 months we have helped to recruit over 1100 volunteer to support the vaccination programme.  At the busiest times we were filling 111 shifts per day or 3,108 hours of volunteering per week.

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022

Tackling loneliness through volunteering

It is Loneliness Awareness Week, created and hosted by The Marmalade Trust. Loneliness is a normal feeling, with one in five people in the UK feeling lonely.

Evidence shows that loneliness can affect people’s mental and physical health. People are naturally social; feeling connected with, and giving to, others is a key factor of our emotional well-being.

The best way to combat loneliness is to talk with someone and volunteering is a great way to do this. We know that volunteering gives people a sense of community and that volunteers experience a physiological response to doing good. Meeting others and being part of a team all help increase people’s sense of well-being.

There are a number of local organisations that are in need of befrienders and other support roles which aim to support people who may feel lonely. Our own Time to Talk service in Surrey Heath has volunteer befrienders who are matched with people in the local community.

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering, take a look at the volunteering opportunities on our website or call us on 01932 571122.

If you’re feeling lonely, the NHS Every Mind Matters and Healthy Surrey websites both have useful tips and information.

Volunteers' Week is from 1st to 7th June

Volunteers’ Week is fast approaching and this year it risks getting a little lost among all the Jubilee celebrations. It’s well worth putting some thought into how best to say thank you and showing volunteers how much they mean.  We all know volunteers aren’t doing it for the recognition, but a little thank you goes a long way in showing how much they are appreciated.

The Volunteers' Week website is a good starting point for ideas, but here at Voluntary Support North Surrey, we’ve also been thinking about how best to show your appreciation. Here are a few ideas that we hope may give you some inspiration as you plan your own ways to thank volunteers:

  1. Make it personal

Rather than sending a bulk email to all volunteers with a generic message of thanks, try to make things as personal as possible – giving recognition for what they have achieved. If you’re sending a card or a certificate to them, maybe mention the number of hours or shifts they have worked over the past year, or the personal relationships they have built with service users – something that reflects what they personally have brought to your organisation.

  1. Keep it green

Everyone loves to keep things as planet-friendly as possible.  How about planting some seeds in empty toilet rolls and giving volunteers a home-grown tomato plant that is all ready to transplant into their own garden? or a houseplant they can enjoy? We love these personalised seed packets from Etsy if you do have a little budget to burn - but we’re sure you could make something similar for free - 10 Thank You Flowers Personalised Seed Packets | Etsy UK

  1. Shout about the difference they have made

Often volunteers are making a huge difference to individuals, but they may be the last ones to hear about it. If you’ve had some wonderful feedback from your service users, make that the centrepiece of any thanks you share with your volunteers, and think about sharing this on social media too.

  1. Make it fun

Volunteering can be a serious business, but this offers a great opportunity for some fun too. Maybe it’s a chance to create a light-hearted thank you video. Here’s some inspiration from our friends across the pond - https://youtu.be/eCSvXMTe1oY

  1. It’s all in the presentation

You don’t need a big budget to show your thanks. Some careful preparation and something homemade such as a simple paper bag with a handwritten gift tag and some thoughtful words is all you need.  For some ideas on wording or small gifts, look here - https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/280630620521058262/

  1. Partner with local businesses

Are there local businesses that might be willing to offer a small thank you gift for free? Perhaps a local coffee shop is willing to give a free coffee or cake to your volunteers on their next visit, or maybe a sports centre will offer them a free gym session. It is worth looking in your area to see if there could be a willing donor (it might help to raise your organisation’s profile too!).

We’d love to hear about how you plan to thank your volunteers this year and what works well for you. Email us with your volunteer week plans.

 

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Social media - make it easy!

You want to inspire and motivate your audience to get involved with your charity by posting great social media with valuable content. You need engagement, retweets, likes, shares, followers, and all the other good things that comes with a successful social media profile. So the question is, what kind of social media content gets that kind of love and gives you the most value?

Who is your audience?

This is a group of people that you've identified that you want to appeal to and who are most likely to be interested in your charity. Your audience can be based on location, age, employment or behavior. Look at other similar charities to yours. What content are they publishing? What kind of voice are they using? Who are they appealing to? What's their call to action?

What is your goal for the social media post/campaign?

Your social media posts should have a purpose - this is a call to action CTA. Do you need donations? Sign up to an email list?  Volunteers? Publicising an event? Your call to action should encourage readers to engage with you further. Be clear what you want your audience to do.

What should you write?

We write about our successes, our beneficiaries, our volunteers, our community and we share local and national social media from partners and charities. Cause awareness and giving days can also be powerful themes for fundraising and social media awareness campaigns. Get ideas from 2021 Cause Awareness Days Days of the Year  Wikipedia’s List of Commemorative Months and download the handy calendar template from Hootsuite for your office wall.

When should you post?

Different audiences on different platforms read posts and view videos at different times of the day. For example, commuters consume social media on their journey to work. Homeworkers may read posts in the middle of the day. Twitter audiences are consuming in the early morning and engagement drops off later in the day. Use the Sprout Socials guide to experiment with posting at different times on different platforms.

How do you make it visually attractive?

Including images is one of the fastest and easiest ways to increase engagement. Our brain can interpret images much quicker than text making your post much more effective. Top tip - make your images the correct size for the platform! We use a free version of an easy to use graphic design platform called Canva and Hootsuite have a guide to getting the sizes right. Remember to use images that belong to you or those from a royalty free site - we use pixabay or unsplash

Finally ... make it easy

Posting diverse, interesting content at the right time on the right platform is made much easier by using a scheduling tool. We use Hootsuite. It allows us to plan our content in advance and schedule appropriately across 3 platforms for free. Read about Hootsuite and other scheduling options here.

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