Volunteers Week 2021: A time to recognise and thank Norfolk’s volunteers

Volunteers have always played an important role looking after people in our communities but in the past year they have literally saved lives.  They have helped tens of thousands of people get their Covid vaccinations and have brought essential food and medication to people who were isolating.  Volunteers have also made thousands of other lives more bearable during lockdown, by organising online activities and making befriending phone calls to check on people’s welfare and mental health.

This Volunteers Week, Voluntary Norfolk and Community Action Norfolk (CAN) are paying tribute to the thousands of volunteers across Norfolk who have made a difference in the past year, in formal volunteering roles and through Good Neighbour Schemes and Mutual Aid Groups.  We are also encouraging more people to step forward to volunteer to continue this amazing legacy.

‘It is no exaggeration to say that, as a country, we could not have got through this past year without volunteers’ says Alan Hopley, CEO of Voluntary Norfolk. ‘I am continually humbled by the contribution they have made and am proud that Voluntary Norfolk has been able to play a role in co-ordinating that volunteer effort.’

Tracey Allan, who leads CAN’s Good Neighbour Network added her praise of volunteers saying ‘Good Neighbour Schemes have played a vital role in the community response to Covid being on the front line of supporting their neighbours and proving how important it is to have a co-ordinated, local, support network.  There are currently 20 schemes in Norfolk with 465 registered volunteers, helping on average 423 households a month.  Over the past year, Good Neighbour Scheme volunteers have carried out almost 12,000 requests for help and have provided a vital social safety net.’

And while lockdown is easing, the demand for volunteers is as great as ever, with more volunteers needed to support the ongoing vaccination rollout, to continue the community support offered by the Good Neighbour Schemes and in roles with local charities and groups who are becoming more active again; roles in charity shops for example, in conservation projects or helping at fundraising events.

‘We want to build on the amazing volunteer effort of the past 12 month so if anyone is inspired by the volunteering that has taken place and want to try it for themselves, or want to resume the volunteering that they have done pre-Covid, then they should get in touch with Voluntary Norfolk or CAN.’ says Alan Hopley. ‘Even if you can only give an hour or two a month, you will be making a difference.’