We’re celebrating Volunteers’ Week, an event run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO), to recognise and thank the millions of volunteers who generously give up their time to help others.
The event runs from 1st – 7th June, with the theme being ‘A Time to Say Thanks’. As usual, the occasion is an opportunity to celebrate the millions of volunteers working throughout the UK and the essential contribution they make to our society.
However, there is also an additional element of appreciation to the event’s proceedings, with the celebrations being specifically planned to acknowledge everyone who’s supported our communities through the pandemic, as well as all those who usually volunteer but who have been unable to due to Coronavirus.
Whilst the Week itself has a huge standalone reach, the occasion will be engaging too with the #MonthofCommunity movement, which plans to bring together organisations great and small with a range of events, encouraging everyone to think about and join in with activities happening in their local area. Volunteers’ Week therefore has a lot to contribute, with organisers intending to showcase the power and positives of volunteering and its role within our societies across the UK in the hope of reaching an even wider audience.
As many of you will know, we’re incredibly fortunate to be supported by a fantastic team of volunteers, who have gone above and beyond to help the charity throughout many challenging months.
On account of having to not only protect themselves but also patients spending time in NHS spinal injury centres from the effects of Coronavirus, the majority of our volunteers have been patiently and eagerly awaiting their return to Horatio’s Garden for over a year.
Whilst we were lucky to be able to safely welcome a few brilliant volunteers back between lockdowns, crucially the spirit of all our volunteers remained strong thanks to much of our teams’ activity moving online.
Despite not being able to gather and support patients and each other in person, all of our volunteers have been actively doing just that from their homes instead; a testament to their phenomenal commitment, willing and kindness.
Together, they’ve done whatever they can remotely, not only in terms of supporting and fundraising for the charity as a whole, but by finding ingenious ways to lift the spirits of patients and their fellow volunteers alike.
We’ve seen the advent of volunteer WhatsApp groups, which are a consistent hive of activity and are where our Head Gardeners and Garden Administrators have shared stories and photos from the gardens almost every day.
Centrally, we’ve hosted national volunteer meetings via Zoom throughout the pandemic, which have been well-attended and have provided a platform for volunteers to not only hear about all our key updates, but also to share ideas across the gardens.
The online poetry group was one which flourished as a result, with invitations sent around to volunteers and patients in all the different gardens offering people the opportunity to have a little fun chatting about famous and little-known poems, with it even prompting a few people to pen their own! It became a chance for volunteers to get to know each other in spite of being hundreds of miles apart and a way to continue supporting patients from afar.
Meanwhile, plenty of greenfingered volunteers have also been growing plants to contribute to sales being held in and around the gardens, with some even hosting their own locally in an effort to raise funds. Similarly, a great deal of crafting has taken place too, with a whole host of volunteers creating lots of gorgeous homemade gifts, which have all largely been sold at small seasonal fairs held close to their homes.
Besides that, every single one of the charity’s soft, comfortable face masks were lovingly crafted by someone donating their time and if someone wasn’t busy sewing, they were almost definitely busy baking some sweet treats to deliver to the gardens; a thoughtful gesture very much appreciated by patients, visitors and NHS staff.
There has also been endless enthusiasm for the events we have hosted online, including our Spring Raffle and Summer Art Auction. Our volunteers have helped us to spread the word about each, whilst one particular volunteer successfully gathered all the prizes for the former event and played an integral part in helping us to raise almost £25,000!
With restrictions beginning to ease, we’ve fortunately now been able to safely welcome a few more volunteers back to each Horatio’s Garden. The hope is that this time every wonderful volunteer will be able to make their way back and we know that it will be an absolute joy to see their vivacity once again at work in our sanctuaries. The socially distanced planting of the new woodland garden in Horatio’s Garden Scotland recently confirmed this, with a marvellous volunteer team braving the elements and having fun in each other’s warm, humorous company as they spent many hours across many days making the new beds look beautiful.
We are immensely grateful to every single one of our volunteers and it’s our privilege to be able to celebrate all that they do for Volunteers’ Week.
Similarly, we hope that sharing stories like this inspires even more of you to volunteer with the charity!
We’re always looking for people to join our teams in our gardens in Salisbury, Glasgow, Stoke Mandeville, Oswestry and London, so if you’re interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
We welcome applications from everyone; any hours you can contribute will make an enormous difference and if you’re able to lend a hand at weekends, even better!