The past few months have been like no other in Bracknell Forest’s history and, as the borough prepares to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the support of volunteers and voluntary and community organisations is more important than ever.
To mark Volunteers’ Week (Monday 1 June to Sunday 7 June), the council and its partners are celebrating all those who have given their time to help their community during the pandemic.
Since mid-March, more than 1,800 people have signed up to volunteer in Bracknell Forest, with thousands of hours being given to support the community. The volunteers are managed by Healthwatch Bracknell Forest and Involve Community Services with Involve also supporting charitable and voluntary organisations to make sure their services are still available to help residents after the crisis.
One example of how volunteers are helping the community during the pandemic is via the Bracknell Forest Community Response, which launched in March to support vulnerable people who are shielding or self-isolating during the pandemic. The response is a partnership between the council, Healthwatch Bracknell Forest and Involve Community Services and is supported by town and parish councils. Volunteers have helped with tasks such as food deliveries, picking up prescriptions, dog walking or simply being a friendly voice at the end of the phone to reduce social isolation.
As Bracknell Forest prepares to enter a ‘new normal’ and people begin returning to work, the council and its partners are raising awareness of the need for community volunteers to continue supporting our residents. There will also be a need for further volunteers who can offer their time to voluntary and community organisations to support the recovery of the borough.
Cllr Paul Bettison, OBE, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:
“The commitment of Bracknell Forest’s volunteers is truly awe-inspiring and I’m extremely grateful for their dedication to supporting the community, particularly during its hour of need. Thank you to each and every one of you.
“As we look ahead to Bracknell Forest’s recovery from the pandemic, the role of the voluntary and community sector and our army of volunteers will be more important than ever. If you are interested in volunteering longer term, I’d urge you to get in touch with Involve to find out how you can help the community and sign up to the volunteer pool – even a small amount of time can make a big difference in supporting those who need it.”
Phil Cook, General Manager at Involve, said:
“Volunteering is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing and overall health. It can boost your self-esteem, teach you new skills, give you new experiences and generally benefit your mind and body, while also helping out charities in need! Why not use this time to add something new to your CV, help your local community, and have fun while doing so?
“There are plenty of great ways that people can get involved; whether you choose to take on small acts of kindness every day, or dive in fully and join the local Volunteer Pool to stay updated on local projects, developments and opportunities - there are loads of ways to volunteer and help your local community!
“Additionally, we’re urging charitable organisations to get in touch with anything they need the help of volunteers with so that we can share these opportunities with the community volunteers.”
Alex Austin, who volunteers for Involve, said:
“It's been a pleasure to give back to our community and help fight the war against Covid-19. Volunteering is something I have always been inspired by my parents to get involved with. Tasks I have completed so far include shopping and prescription collections/drops.
When I first shopped for an elderly gentleman, he was sad that he wasn't able to get pudding rice and some other items. However, I managed to find all his items on his list for each shop. He's always happy to see me and appreciates it very much.”
If your organisation needs support from volunteers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.