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Giving thanks to our volunteers

NCVO Vol week Logo 2021 colour large

Volunteers' Week 2021

The ongoing commitment and hard work of thousands of volunteers across Tower Hamlets is being recognised and celebrated as part of National Volunteers’ Week 1-7 June.

The theme of the week (now in its 37th year) is ‘a time to say thanks’ in recognition of the huge role that volunteers have played in their communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020 more than 3100 residents have answered the call and signed up to the Tower Hamlets Covid-19 Volunteer Hub (www.vcth.org.uk) which is providing a crucial lifeline to many, including vulnerable and isolated residents.

Commissioned by the council and managed by Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets (VCTH), residents have volunteered in over 100 local voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations, across the council and the NHS.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said:

“I’m proud of the way in which our fantastic volunteers, local organisations and the whole community have responded to the impact of the pandemic. Our residents have always been our greatest asset, and the genuine East End sense of community spirit and looking after our neighbours during tough times has rarely been so evident as in the past year.

“I’m delighted to be able to say thanks for all the tremendous volunteering work so far, much of which I’ve been privileged to see for myself, and I know that support will continue in the weeks and months ahead.”

Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said:

“We are fortunate to have a large and active voluntary and community sector in Tower Hamlets. It has really demonstrated the value it adds in supporting our whole community and ensuring our most vulnerable residents and families were not left behind.

“It’s been awe-inspiring to see so many residents give up their time and share their skills for the benefit of others. Many of them will value the positive impact volunteering can have on their own lives, and how they’re helping the borough to recover.”

Catherine Bavage, Chief Executive, Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets said:

“Our amazing volunteers have worked selflessly together to help keep Tower Hamlets safer and stronger during the most challenging of times. We owe them so much. This Volunteers' Week I encourage everyone to recognise the enormous contribution that our fantastic local volunteers have made to the Covid-19 response, and to join me in thanking each and every one of them. 

“Among other things, volunteers have cooked meals, delivered essential food and medication, befriended isolated older residents, helped children with their education, supported people with their mental health, and have been the welcoming face of our vaccination centres. 

“The pandemic is not over, and many local people continue to need our support in the months ahead. If you can spare just a few hours to help, we would love to hear from you. Please visit the Volunteering Hub at www.vcth.org.uk to join the growing number of brilliant Tower Hamlets volunteers."

The volunteering hub has also supported the Tower Hamlets Covid-19 Community Champions network. The network supports people who live and work in the borough to stay up to date with the latest advice about Covid-19 so they can share accurate information with their families, friends and their wider communities.

Visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/covidchampions for more information on how to become a Covid-19 Community Champion.

Notes:

Find out more on the national Volunteers’ Week website: www.volunteersweek.org

The council, Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets and other local partners will be sharing their volunteering events and activities throughout the week so look out for more on their websites and social media channels.

The 3100 plus volunteers have served in a variety of roles, supporting vulnerable and isolated residents and keeping vital services open, including: 

  • Van drivers and food packers helping the VCS Community Food Hub.  
  • Click and Collect shopping volunteers to deliver emergency food and medication. 
  • Covid-19 vaccination site volunteers. 
  • High Streets volunteers, distributing Covid-safe publicity to 1,200 local businesses.  
  • Mentors for disadvantaged young people, and tutors for children in mathematics and English.
  • Food delivery and community kitchen volunteers.  
  • Shopping delivery for residents who are self-isolating or shielding.
  • Telephone befrienders for lonely or isolated older and disabled people.
  • Digital volunteer buddies supporting older isolated people to connect digitally. 
  • Domestic abuse helpline volunteers.
  • Volunteers assisting with online ESOL classes for adults. 

The volunteers recruited by the Hub will play an important part in the ongoing response to the pandemic and the recovery process in Tower Hamlets. 

Tower Hamlets has a proud history and track record of volunteering, with local residents being prepared to give up their time, on a regular basis, to support their community. Tower Hamlets Annual Residents’ Survey 2019 found that 21% of residents had been involved in some volunteering work over the previous year. 

Volunteering’s importance to the borough is reflected in Tower Hamlets Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy 2020-2024 where volunteering is one of the Strategy’s priorities in its first year. 

Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021