There are approximately 30,000 voluntary and community organisations in Wales. Volunteers are involved in a vast range of activities and initiatives and make a huge contribution to people’s lives.
Volunteers also play an important role in improving public health in Wales and are involved in nutrition and physical activities designed to improve nutrition and increase levels of physical activity in their communities.
Gofal – one of Wales’ leading mental health charities – has secured Big Lottery funding to run the innovative new ‘GreengAge’ project, which aims to use horticulture and befriending to reduce social isolation and improve older people’s wellbeing.
GreengAge is currently looking for volunteers who are aged 50+ with an interest in horticulture, as well as older people who would benefit from this kind of befriending scheme.
Social isolation is a concern for many older people, as physical health begins to restrict their involvement in social and recreational activities, sometimes leading to a deterioration in their mental health and wellbeing. The GreengAge project will provide volunteer opportunities for older people to work with other older people, in order to help them participate in activities such as growing fruit, vegetables or plants in their own homes and gardens. This one-to-one befriending service will also encourage older people to increase their exercise, self-confidence, and social contact.
If you would like to participate in this project, or know of someone who would find it beneficial, please visit the website.
‘Green volunteering in Wales – building on good practice’ is now available on the WCVA website. This is a publication summarising the findings of action research projects and volunteering impact assessments undertaken by organisations involving green volunteers in their work. It contains some useful information for developing good practice in volunteer management and complements the existing good practice information on the WCVA website and more resources directly related to green volunteering will be added to the website.
There is a focus on ‘green’ volunteering; however the insight and information will also help organisations involving volunteers in other settings. ‘Green volunteering in Wales – building on good practice’ also contains helpful contributions from other organisations who involve green volunteers in their work.
Issues covered range from recruiting volunteers from deprived areas, communicating with volunteers and using volunteer reviews. The Countryside Council for Wales also shares its ‘Come Outside!’ research on making volunteering a ‘memorable experience’.
Examples of the role of volunteers include:
Lynne lives in Grangetown, Cardiff, with her husband and two young children and volunteers for the Butetown/Grangetown Healthy Living Programme. To download further information about Lynne’s experiences as a volunteer click on A Volunteers Voice.
Community Food Cooperatives enable people to access fresh fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis at wholesale prices. They are an excellent way to bring the community together, people get to know each other and all sorts of other activities often develop as a result. Community food cooperatives utilise volunteers to order the fruit and vegetables, pack them and distribute them to customers.
The National Federations of Women’s Institutes Wales have been involved with Get Cooking since 1992. The aim of Get Cooking is to provide trainers with a toolkit to teach young people, broadly between the ages of 14 and 25 and others some basic cooking skills in a community setting. The women delivering the Get Cooking courses work voluntarily with significant enthusiasm and commitment. They build on their life experience to give hints and tips on cooking healthily and on a budget. The only pre-requisite is that volunteers have an interest in cooking and have or are willing to train for a basic food hygiene certificate. The volunteers have found this work very rewarding. The success of this format has meant that it is being rolled out by the NFWI in England.
British Heart Foundation (BHF) Healthy School Co-ordinator
The Healthy School Co-ordinator role includes raising the profile of BHF within schools by giving short presentations on the work of BHF, healthy lifestyle messages including how to look after your heart and encouraging schools to participate in fundraising events such as Jump Rope for Heart (skipping initiative) and Dodgeball. For more information contact Jayne Lewis, Fundraising Volunteer Manager on email [email protected] or telephone number 01554 891 500.
Age Concern, supported by the Countryside Council for Wales have trained 10 Volunteer Instructors to the International Nordic Walking Association standards. For more information click on 50+ Nordic Walking
Dragon Sport’s role is to improve sports provision for 7 to 11 year olds, Dragon Sport also focuses on recruiting parents as helpers to support the development of after school and community sports clubs – called Dragon Sport Clubs. For more information on volunteering for Dragon Sport, please visit the Dragon Sport website.
Council for Wales Voluntary Youth Sector CWVYS is the umbrella body for the voluntary youth sector in Wales. It is an independent charitable body that promotes quality youth work and represents the interests of its membership and wider.
For information about volunteering in Wales visit the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) website. The website provides a wealth of useful information for volunteers. The WCVA run training courses throughout Wales which are designed to support and develop volunteers’ knowledge and skills. For more information about WCVA training courses visit WCVA website – training. They also provide information on managing volunteers including model volunteer policies.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer visit WCVA website – Volunteering or contact your local Council of Voluntary Services . To find out more about volunteering opportunities in Wales visit the Volunteering Wales website .