National Volunteers’ Week takes place every year between 1 – 7 June and is a celebration of the contribution made by millions of people across the UK through volunteering. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the events we would usually do to celebrate Volunteers’ Week have been cancelled in line with government advice. Whilst we cannot say thank you in our intended way, now, more than ever, it is important to recognise the tremendous effort of every individual volunteer and community group.
The contribution given by volunteers to our community is hugely important and incredibly valuable and therefore it should be recognised and given the praise it so duly deserves. We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to every single volunteer and community group in Newark and Sherwood.
Below are some of the amazing volunteers in Newark and Sherwood:
Collingham Area Coronavirus Support Group are an active volunteer group with over 400 volunteers. They liaise with other registered charities in the area they cover to support the most vulnerable residents and those that are self-isolating. This group covers 16 villages and hamlets in total including Thorney, Wigsley, Harby, Girton, North and South Clifton, Spalford, Besthorpe, Collingham, Holme, Langford, Brough, Winthorpe, Langford, Coddington and Barnby-in-the-Willows.
David Coote, part of the Collingham Area Coronavirus Support Group said:
“We have been fundraising securing monetary support and physical food donations from Nottinghamshire County Council, local charitable trusts and supermarkets. We would like to especially thank our Councillor, Maureen Dobson, but also we would like to thank the Lincolnshire Co-op and Waitrose as well as Newark and Sherwood District Council. We have also been doing some public campaigning to say thank you to the organisations and people that have helped us, which also include Fareshare, H15 Church and many individuals who have sent us money donations via Collingham Village Care. We have even our local fire service on site at our pantry, graciously hosted by Collingham FC and The Royal Oak, to help us unload food pallets!”
Food Aid - Blidworth and Blidworth - On the Move
Food Aid - Blidworth is an independent food provision scheme for people who are in food poverty or awaiting benefits. When food is donated to the group, a volunteer cleans down every single donated product and sorts it ready to make up emergency food parcels. Another volunteer then prepares a parcel with five meals for each person. Finally a volunteer driver delivers the parcel to the residents home, having made sure they were in by phoning ahead. The volunteer drivers who give up their spare time to help Food Aid - Blidworth usually have a roles outside of their volunteering duties. The drivers include a keep-fit instructor, a local business operator, fire fighters, a teacher and retired individuals. It show that anyone can become involved as a volunteer!
On The Move - Blidworth is a service that provides transport for patients and carers across local communities. They transport people who are vulnerable or have transport issues but need to get to the doctors’ surgery in Ravenshead from Blidworth or Rainworth or to the hospital.
Mark Himsworth volunteers at Food Aid - Blidworth and Blidworth - On the Move and comments: "My role within both organisations was to get both structures up and running and establish admin structures to ensure they keep going beyond the current crisis. I am a former Business Bank Manager with NatWest - I took a redundancy package 3 years ago. I work for the church as the Treasurer and Admin for 2 days a week. This work is an extension of my role with the church and my desire to see the Church more involved in meeting and serving the needs of our local community."
Thank you to everyone who volunteers with Food Aid - Blidworth and Blidworth - On the Move.
Gilly Hagen volunteers across a number of organisations, read her volunteering story here:
Gilly volunteers across a number of organisations and comments: "I am the volunteer Patient Representative at the Newark and Sherwood D.C Health and Well-Being Forum and l am NHS Patient Leader for Mid Notts CCG. I am Chair of the Abbey Medical Group PPG. Firstly it was about getting food to the most vulnerable. The PPG Group has always been active in befriending, supporting, and advising patients/carers. However, l soon realised we had a real problem getting the most vulnerable and isolated in our community, to much needed regular GP or nurse appointments. Or, in some cases to get them to hospital, for appointments they needed to keep. We realised we needed a vehicle that had PPE and was as safe as possible.
So I approached our Fire Officers on the 27th April. Two days later a local family business came forward to help us get a vehicle. We launched on the 14th May. Now we are transporting and befriending people across the 3 villages in our area. This week the PPG are working on the End of Life 'Respect Programme' and are also promoting Cancer Research Trials. They have a memory group and also help raise funds for various projects - currently our fund raising is focused on getting more community based defibrillator units out into the community.
I was around during the miners strike and l feel that community spirit has come back and particularly in our area in and around Blidworth, people have come forward to help get food aid up and running, getting the volunteer led transport scheme up and running along with befriending and medication delivery etc... I am a part of the Recovery Cell for the NHS who are next month doing research to find out how to best make use of volunteer workforce's as we come out of this pandemic and in the future.'
Thank you Gilly for your amazing work volunteering in so many different roles.
Lowdham Volunteers initially established themselves to support flooding in the village. As a flood action group, they are helping to create a better warning system and to match volunteers with properties vulnerable to flooding.
However, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowdham Volunteers have used their expertise to do all they can to help the Lowdham community. There are currently 170 volunteers supporting around 80 isolated people in Lowdham. The volunteers provide these isolated people with shopping and a prescription collection service as well as delivering meals to them and offering a telephone befriending service. The 170 volunteers come from all walks of life but generally live in Lowdham.
Peter Cross, who founded the group comments: "I have much enjoyed creating the organisation to firstly work with flooding issues and to then adjust it to support Covid-19. It has been a pleasure to adapt skills learned during an Army career to a civilian environment."
Thank you to Peter Cross and everyone who volunteers in Lowdham.
Volunteering at the National Civil War Centre
There are a team of volunteers who work at the National Civil War Centre. They are there to meet and greet and provide a welcome smile to the Centre's visitors. Sarah Copeland has been volunteering at the National Civil War Centre since it first opened on Appletongate and says:
"When I planned my early retirement some years ago, alongside the obvious excitement, was a degree of trepidation. I had enjoyed work and the sense of purpose it provided so felt that I needed to find something to get involved with that might at least allow me to pretend I was still being useful.
News of a new Civil War Centre for Newark was finding its way into the press and it seemed to be just what I was looking for. The more I heard, the more enthusiastic I became to volunteer in what looked to be a rather fabulous new venture. From the early planning days when the building was still revealing it's secrets; witches bottles, medieval graffiti, woodworm and dry rot, It has been fascinating to watch the centre evolve.
Today the beautifully restored buildings are packed with exhibits which are ever improving. As volunteers, we are privileged to meet visitors of all ages from all around the world, united in a shared love of history. Many have wonderful stories to tell and are often highly knowledgeable, it is a particular treat when the re-enactors are in town with the living history exhibits. Children often visit with parents, grandparents and on school visits, their enthusiasm is always infectious and the learning team do a great job in making sure the centre is accessible and interesting for all ages.
It has been really lovely to get to know the permanent staff team and fellow volunteers, a friendly and welcoming group who meet often, socially and for further training or learning. Since my move to Newark some 20 years ago I have always enjoyed living in the town without ever really feeling a part of it. Joining the team at the Civil War Centre helped me to bridge that gap and I am happy to report that retirement is indeed a land of opportunity!"
The Southwell Torpedos have certainly took on the challenge of facing the COVID-19 pandemic head on. They offer a collection and delivery services for prescriptions and have been doing food shops for the vulnerable and isolated residents in the Southwell area. At the end of the May 2020, the Southwell Torpedos had dealt with over 500 requests from residents, the majority for prescriptions, where they organised operational protocols with Lloyds, Boots and the Southwell Medical centre to ensure they can safely and effectively help.
Chris Prentice volunteers at the Southwell Torpedos and comments: "I am a serial volunteer! I've been on the Board of Framework for coming up 9 years, the last 2 of which I've been the Chair (and Vice-chair prior to that). I've been a DofE Volunteer Leader / Trainer for even longer with the Minster School - where a volunteer group runs the largest DofE program in the County. We are now looking forward to how we can use the Group to create greater community resilience in the future once we start to see an end to the Covid-19 Emergency response."
Thank you everyone who volunteers their time to help the Southwell Torpedos.
Team Foodshare Rainworth, Blidworth and Surrounding Areas - Volunteer group
Team Foodshare Rainworth, Blidworth and Surrounding Areas had a small base of volunteers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. They previously ran the Foodshare project from a centre in Rainworth but as the Country went into lockdown they realised they would need more volunteers as the project was starting to become more widespread. They started to deliver food to homes and offered other vital support to their residents. They advertised for additional volunteers to help match the growing demand in their services and to date have received over 70 applications for new and willing volunteers. Volunteers come from Rainworth, Blidworth, Mansfield and work as a very tight team. All volunteers have been registered with the Social Action Hub which ensures they have relevant DBS checks in place before commencing with their volunteering duties.
Lisa Wilson, Programme Manager, comments: "From having a centre based project that picked up food waste each day from local stores and distributed it to a few local residents and had a 'drop in' facility at the centre for people to pick up food bags two days a week; we have now become a total community based project. Support we offer includes dropping off food parcels for families isolating or who have lost incomes due to the pandemic, picking up prescriptions or doing some shopping. We are even walking dogs for some local residents along with carrying out befriending calls to people who are worried, missing family or are feeling isolated and lonely."
This volunteer group have provided over 3000 meals since the end of March 2020, made 170 befriending calls and visited over a 1000 households across the area which is an incredible feat. The volunteers are keen to continue offering their services once this immediate crisis has settled and once they move back into the Rainworth centre.
Lisa also comments: "Hopefully the legacy of this incredible time will see the Social Action Hub getting additional support and donations from the local residents for those in need as this time has highlighted how supportive and community focussed we can be and how many people really do need support but maybe don’t always ask for it."