A Memorable Volunteers’ Week on Social Media
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to our social media campaign for Volunteers’ Week 2021, the theme of which was ‘a time to say thanks’.
We hope you’ve enjoyed and been inspired by all the stories and messages on our Facebook page. Here is a recap in case you missed anything:
On Tuesday, we acknowledged the incredible work of the C19 Community Response Volunteers over the last year. 83 generous individuals took on this role, all carrying out important tasks like shopping/medication deliveries and phone calls. More than 12,300 of these tasks have been completed to date, and at peak times, the team of volunteers managed to make around 300 phone calls and 120 shopping trips per week between them.
A humongous and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of the 83 volunteers for your tireless and selfless efforts, which enabled 645 households (almost 1,000 individuals) to keep safe, and even happy, during the crisis. Volunteering at its best!
On Wednesday, we celebrated walking for wellness with Gosport Walking for Health! A huge thank you to our fantastic Volunteer Walk Leaders, who, despite the challenging conditions over the last 15 months, have maintained their enthusiasm and commitment to leading the way towards greater well-being. This allowed us to resume our programme of walks last year, and then again this year, albeit with restrictive safety measures in place. Walking in a group setting provides important opportunities to help people to keep active, improving health and well-being and reducing social isolation.
Volunteers Anne and Ann were kind enough to share their stories of becoming Walk Leaders and what they enjoy about their role.
On Thursday, we shared our latest Volunteer Opportunities publication! It’s a little shorter than in previous years, as activity is still restricted, but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity; some fantastic and exciting roles are available, with groups and organisations such as Loud & Proud, Gosport Heritage Open Days, Gosport Gallery and SEARCH Museum, Enable Ability, Brendoncare, Hampshire SENDIASS, Butterflies Bereavement Support, Gosport Walking for Health and Portsmouth City of Sanctuary. We look forward to sharing more opportunities with you as things continue to open up.
Download the Volunteer Opportunities or access the text-only version at: www.gva.org.uk/news/vol-week-opps-21
We also gave an extra special Volunteers’ Week ‘thank you’ to Bethany, who was kind enough to share this message about her experience of being a Befriending volunteer!
“I’m from Gosport. I am also a writer in the Royal Navy and I’m currently based up in Scotland, so away from home at the moment. Volunteering, for me is very important. I recognise that there is a lot of community spirit within Gosport, and I wanted to continue to give back in a way that was possible for me, so I decided to become part of the Befriending service.
It’s brilliant because the person I’ve been matched with is ex-forces, so we get to share stories and it’s so interesting, because I get to share with the person I’ve been matched with my experiences in the Royal Navy now, and they will also share their experiences, which is really, really interesting to see how much it’s changed. It me feel so good to know that I’m making a difference in this person’s life and I feel like I’ve gained a new friend.”
Of course, we couldn’t celebrate Volunteers’ Week this year without acknowledging the significant contribution local volunteers have made to the reduction of Covid transmissions in Gosport, by supporting the health service in their delivery of testing and vaccinations. Therefore, on Friday, we shared the following message from Health Connector Alex Murray:
“We want to thank every volunteer at The Willow Group for the commitment they have shown in supporting our Covid-19 vaccination rollout. They are a critical part of our team and we have been amazed by the dedication and expertise they have provided to patients.
After an exceptionally tough year for everyone, it has been heartwarming to hear the hope and pride that Gosport residents feel when arriving for vaccination because of their support. Volunteers have ensured the process is safe and organised and that they are leaving our clinics with a sense of optimism and a smile.
I hope all volunteers throughout the country remain active in their communities for as long as possible because our shared successes couldn’t have been achieved without their help.”
Also on Friday, we marked the halfway point of Volunteers’ Week with a video from MP for Gosport Caroline Dinenage, who kindly recorded this message on behalf of all of us at GVA:
“Today I’ve been meeting with Gosport Voluntary Action, and this Volunteers’ Week, I wanted to say a special, magnificent thank you to all the incredible volunteers we have here in the Gosport area. You make such a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis. You’re all amazing. Thank you so much for everything you do.”
On Saturday, we celebrated Gosport volunteering groups Loud & Proud and VoluntHeroes! In the morning, we heard from the marvellous Donna, a longstanding member of VoluntHeroes, our inclusive, supportive group. Donna told us about the activities she’s enjoyed recently, helping at both Marvels & Meltdowns Family Centre and Gosport Gallery and SEARCH Museum.
In the afternoon, we heard from Donna’s superstar teammate Matty, who told us how much he enjoys volunteering at the allotment and the therapeutic benefits of planting, as well as keeping Gosport clean and free of litter.
On Sunday, we shared a heartfelt message from Heather, the co-ordinator of our popular Befriending service:
“I would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to all our befriending volunteers, those who have been with us for many years and those of you who joined us during the Covid crisis. You have made such a difference to so many people’s lives in our community, you have helped people come to terms with the loss of a loved one, or to deal with anxiety when there was none before, helped them to cope with loneliness, isolation and desperation, you have listened to their tears, fears and sorrows, never judged, just held their hands and guided them through the storm.
I would also like to share my appreciation to the following befriending volunteers who have gone above and beyond, during the last 14 months, even though some of you were dealing with your own personal issues at this time. Wendy E, Lynn S, Liz C, Hannah S and Tom G, THANK YOU; you have been amazing and we could not have helped so many people, if it was not for your selflessness.”
We also heard from Aileen, who told us what befriending Margaret has meant to her. Even though Aileen has encountered loss, her experience has still been a positive one, and we applaud her dedication. Many thanks to Aileen for sharing her story:
“It was all a case of my mother, who lived in Scotland and she was a very lonely lady, and I thought when I retired from work it’s something I would like to do, to help another old lady as I couldn’t help my mother. I visited a couple of ladies before I got Margaret and Margaret was such a lovely lady, and it’s worth all the weight in gold to see that smile when she opens the door, and it’s really hit me hard that she’s passed away. She was such a lovely lady, and the joy that she got from the hour visit on an hour and a half visit, whatever length of time you could spare, is seriously worth it. Anybody thinking of doing it must do it.”
Finally, on Monday, we round off a memorable Volunteers’ Week with some words from GVA’s own wonderful volunteers, from C19 Community Support volunteers and Befrienders, to VoluntHeroes and Walk Leaders.
The first cloud is made of up words that the volunteers used to describe their own experience, and the second cloud contains their advice to others who are considering volunteering. The bigger the word or phrase, the more people said it, so as you can see, ‘rewarding’ is the most popular description, and if you’re considering getting involved, GVA volunteers encourage you to ‘do it’!