Volunteers’ Week 2018 – Blog Post

The importance of our volunteers - David Welch

As Volunteers’ Week 2018 is about to come to a close, I wanted to reflect on our own volunteers at Leeds Cares and look at why people give up their time to help.

In the UK, around one in five of us make the decision to give up our time to volunteer every month[1]. The most common ways people decide to help are through fundraising events like sponsored runs or walks and volunteering at local sports groups.

At Leeds Cares, we see every day the positive impact volunteers make, not just in our own organisation but right across Leeds Teaching Hospitals. It’s estimated around 27% of regular volunteers choose to support health and wellbeing causes, be that the NHS, sport or health charities.[2] This concept of ‘people helping people’ is at the heart of Leeds Cares and everything we do. We believe that by bringing together people, communities and businesses, we can create a new type of giving that benefits society and enables the best health & well being for all.

At Leeds Cares, we’re lucky that we have so much support from local volunteers, willing to give up a few hours or a few days every month to help. Some of our corporate partners for example make an invaluable contribution in supporting us on event days and submitting teams of participants for our fundraising activities.

Some of our more regular volunteers have a more personal reason for wanting to help – like the marvellous ladies of Breast Cancer Action who give up their time to fundraise, campaign and hold meetings, despite many of them still undergoing cancer treatment themselves. Or the Day One ward volunteers, often using their own experiences of trauma to help others going through a similarly difficult time.

Our own Chairman of the Trustees, Edward Ziff OBE, also got involved with the charity after his teenage son underwent treatment at Leeds Teaching Hospitals for cancer. Other volunteers, like the fantastic Terry Roberts who gives up his time several times a week, have been volunteering for decades, using their time to help and support patients and their families when they visit the hospital.

Everyone has their own personal reason for wanting to volunteer – whether that’s to give back after their own treatment or the care of a loved one; to meet new people and learn new skills; or to dedicate time and energy into fundraising for a specific cause. Whatever the reason may be, there’s no doubt that volunteers are an invaluable part of any charity and at Leeds Cares, they’re truly priceless. Our staff here are of course completely dedicated to our cause, but volunteers, who selflessly give up their time and money to join us in their efforts, are genuine ambassadors for our charity. Volunteers working alongside the NHS can help in many ways – sharing experiences, providing a shoulder to cry on, offering guidance and advice – or sometimes just helping to navigate their way around their hospital or providing a much appreciated cheer in a noisy crowd.

One thing is certain, our modern-day NHS, as it faces demands for more cash, more support and more staff, definitely needs all the help it can get. Volunteers not only provide an added boost to current NHS staff and services, they also help to bring communities together, helping us share experiences and support each other – often at the times we need it most.

[1] Gov UK Community Life Survey

[2] King’s Fund Volunteering in the NHS Report