Talk of the county

PUBLISHED: 05:29 20 April 2015

Voluntary Norfolk supports people who need assistance or who maybe isolated. Photo : Steve Adams

Voluntary Norfolk supports people who need assistance or who maybe isolated. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2014

Guest columnist this month in our series on issues facing the county is Brian Horner, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk, based in Colegate, Norwich, which supports volunteers and voluntary organisations around the county.

Brian Horner, chief executive Voluntary Norfolk. Photo : Steve AdamsBrian Horner, chief executive Voluntary Norfolk. Photo : Steve Adams

Many of us increasingly do at least some of our shopping online and we communicate with both friends and government departments over the internet. However, while technology can be great, sometimes people really do need people. Norfolk has a thriving voluntary and community sector providing services and activities in local communities and across the county. These groups rely on the contribution of thousands of volunteers.

I’m often asked who volunteers and why do they do it. The answer is always a very personal one. If somebody has retired, volunteering can be a way of retaining the social contact they had through work or an opportunity to use their skills in a new setting, or even learn new ones. For those who are younger, it can be a way of trying out something new and perhaps adding to their CV. For some, volunteering can be a route not only to developing their skills but also into work. Indeed my daughter, Nancy, now works as a teaching assistant having previously done voluntary work with young people excluded from school.

Volunteering is no longer, if indeed it ever was, about being a do-gooder. There have to be benefits not just for the voluntary group who need that extra pair of hands. Volunteers themselves should also benefit from the experience. Whether it is simply satisfaction at a job well done or even having had some fun, we all want to feel that we’ve made a difference. Volunteers by their very nature don’t do it for the money, but praise and a thank you go a long way.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to volunteer but not sure what you want to do, look at the Voluntary Norfolk website where you’ll find lots of volunteering opportunities on offer. There are opportunities to volunteer on a one-to-one basis as a befriender or walking companion for Voluntary Norfolk, supporting individuals perhaps who are isolated or need assistance to cope with everyday life. Or you could get involved with the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich working as part of a team. If the outdoors is your thing there are plenty of opportunities with conservation groups. Of course many of Norfolk’s voluntary groups are always looking for volunteers to help with fundraising or admin tasks. The choice is endless.

There are also opportunities to make a difference by becoming a trustee of a charity. I will soon be retiring as chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk. What’s one of the first things I’ll be doing in retirement? Volunteering of course, having agreed to become a trustee of the new Norfolk Museums Development Foundation; something I’m really looking forward to.

I hope that if you don’t already volunteer you will take a look at the Voluntary Norfolk website. There’s something waiting there just for you.

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