03 May VOLUNTEERING – THE VITAL ELEMENT OF TORBAY’S COMMUNITIES
By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
What a splendid start to the month of May – one Bank Holiday down and another two to go. What’s not to like?
Thousands took advantage of the first bank holiday to take part in organised activities in each of the three towns across the Bay and a good time was had by visitors and residents alike.
In Brixham, for example, thousands took to the streets dressed as pirates for a three-day festival of all things pirate in what has become a popular annual event which attracts people from all over the country.
Other large-scale events were occurring simultaneously elsewhere in the Bay and few people will have noticed that those providing the backbone for all of them were the unsung heroes, the volunteers without whom it is unlikely that any big event could occur.
Volunteers are often seen wearing hi-viz jackets, ensuring all goes according to plan and risks of accidents and incidents are kept to a minimum. But they also staff stalls along the route and even provide first aid for those as the need arises.
For the larger events, there can be hundreds of people that volunteer to take up the slack that would otherwise have to go to paid members of staff, making the whole thing too expensive to put on in the first place and many of those that step up do it for their communities or for little reward other than a cuppa and a free ticket.
Volunteering happens everywhere, every minute of every day and means the difference between events happening, and even organisations existing or not, but you rarely read about this veritable army of people who give something back.
Here at Torbay Community Development Trust, we want to help change all that with volunteers being celebrated for what they do, as happened last weekend when the wonderful Maggie Stapleton was appointed a Coronation Champion by Their Majesties ahead of the big celebrations next weekend.
Maggie has been chair of the Crafty Fox Café n Hub in Foxhole since its inception and has worked for years quietly behind the scenes making sure everything goes smoothly and hundreds if not thousands of people in that community have the support and companionship they need.
We can’t promise everyone a certificate and lapel pin from the King and his Queen Consort, but we can change attitudes toward volunteering to ensure they are always placed front and centre when it comes to receiving the thanks and praise they deserve.
Next weekend as part of the Coronation Bank Holiday Weekend, there is an event called the Big Lunch which takes place on Sunday as a pre-cursor to the Big Help Out on Monday when it is hoped that organising events like litter picks and community painting groups which will work on a project throughout the day.
We and Torbay Council have organised a big marquee on Torquay Abbey Meadows to coincide with the Big Lunch where groups from Torbay will have the opportunity to showcase their work and outline volunteering openings they have available, and they will be as varied as they come from occasional help outs to formal roles with small concerns alongside some of the best know charities working here in the Bay.
We aim to make volunteering something to be proud of and, over the next few weeks, will be launching a new campaign around the name Volunteer Torbay.com We want individuals to come forward can be proud to support it as well as for businesses and other bodies to sign up to be proud to support volunteering amongst their workforces.
We know there is a hunger for it, 1,700 people put their names forward to help their neighbours, friends and even strangers through the Torbay Community Helpline, and we also know that it does not take a national crisis for people to want to help each other.
Many volunteers go unnoticed and prefer it that way, perhaps working behind the scenes at their local sports club, and others are doing what they love and giving back to the clubs and societies that helped them in whatever way. Others do it because they have been directly affected by whatever the charity they support works with – often health issues.
Whatever makes you tick, we hope we will be able to find something for you, and a good starting point will be through the Volunteer Torbay scheme. In the meantime, if you want to know more, please drop me an email: [email protected]