Our annual celebration of all things volunteering will soon end… National Volunteers Week (June 1st-7th) will be back in 2024, but what will be different – both for us in the sector and the communities we support? If we have learnt anything from the history of the last 15 years, it is surely that change comes at you fast! The question is; how do we ensure that we can be the change we want to see?
Whether it’s celebrating and inspiring or strengthening the diversity of contributions; we can’t be static in the 51 weeks of the year when we’re not in ‘celebration mode’. Whether for national campaigning groups, service delivery organisations, mutual aid or every town and village’s version of Beazley Street Community Association; the need to be the force for positive change is paramount. Politics and Governments may try to influence direction, but it is the experience of volunteers – seeing the reality of people’s lives – that matters. That should always be the most influential player in change.
Covid and the cost of living crises opened our eyes to how vital the ‘on-the-ground’ capacity of volunteering is. With that comes power and responsibility. This power is already manifesting itself with a new, more collaborative approach towards our sector, from Local and National Government. The responsibility it brings is to ensure that it is never taken away again. We are serious players in serious times.
In a world where the loudest voice isn’t always the most perceptive or productive, and where attention spans can be short, it is imperative that our experience helps shape the future and ensures any change is helpful. We do that best by continuing to be ourselves. Volunteering is the quickest and most effective way to bring change. Whether small scale or the first step in a thousand-mile march: our contribution is needed everywhere.
Michael Green, Volunteering Kingston Project Manager
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