Volunteers are the lifeblood of many charities and organisations.
Their invaluable contribution is being celebrated across the country during Volunteers’ Week (June 1 to 7).
A host of groups across Leeds and further afield rely on people who are willing to donate their time to help improve the lives of their friends and neighbours.
One such charity is Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, which helps hundreds of families right across West Yorkshire.
It is currently caring for 18 families referred to them by Leeds General Infirmary. It is also supporting 36 other individuals and families from the city.
Last year Forget Me Not’s 500 volunteers donated an incredible 60,000 hours of their time.
Forget Me Not’s chief executive Luen Thompson said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that we would simply not be able to function without our wonderful volunteers.
“Every minute, every hour they donate means we can care for hundreds of local children with life-shortening conditions and their families. Not only that, but their dedication, commitment, energy, good will, skills and experience enhance everything we do - from fundraising to care, in our shops and at our hospices. There isn’t a part of Forget Me Not where volunteers aren’t absolutely vital.”
“We are extremely grateful that people from across the community are willing to give us the gift of their time - and we’re proud too that we can offer such a huge variety of volunteering opportunities that mean so many people can get involved whatever their circumstances, work background and time commitments.”
The reasons people volunteer for Forget Me Not are varied. The charity quizzed some of its volunteers as to what motivated them, but chose not to provide their surnames.
They include people like retiree Jane who volunteers in one of Forget Me Not’s shops. She said: “I just love meeting new people. Plus, it keeps your brain active and doing something worthwhile.”
Another helper, James, likes being a shop volunteer because it gives him something to focus on after he experienced some mental health issues. While fellow charity shop worker Fareed is improving his language skills through his role.
Other people like to share their skills to help children. This includes Louise who volunteers as a musician at the hospice. She uses her talent and skills to benefit some of the children Forget Me Not supports, while also enhancing her CV.
Some volunteers also make the transition onto the staff. For example the confidence and experience Kim built up as a care volunteer led to a permanent role as a care team member for the charity.
While they may have different reasons for volunteering, they all share a heartfelt appreciation of the work the charity does.
As Sheila, one of Forget Me Not’s fundraising volunteers, said: “I get great satisfaction from knowing that what we do really does help the families Forget Me Not supports.”
Forget Me Not would love to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering a few spare hours of their time to support its important work.
Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 411040. You can also visit www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk/volunteer to see all the latest opportunities.
Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice was founded more than 14 years ago when a mum became concerned about the lack of support available for her son.
Her fundraising made a ‘hospice at home’ service possible in 2010. A hospice in Russell House in Huddersfield was opened two years later.
HRH Princess Beatrice is the royal patron of Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice offers a wide range of services right from pregnancy, including practical family support, complementary therapies, counselling and bereavement support, sibling support and much more, all available to the whole family.
Forget Me Not were the first children’s hospice in Europe to employ a midwife.
With just three per cent of funding coming from the government, the charity must raise over £4.5m each year to ensure it is able to give the children and families the support they need.
For more information see www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk
The Volunteers’ Week campaign was established in 1984 by Volunteering England.
It merged with NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) in 2013. The NCVO now leads the UK-wide campaign.
During June 1 to 7 hundreds of events and celebrations will take place across the country.
See: volunteersweek.org for more information about events.