This year, Volunteer’s Week will look very different. Usually charities locally and nationally would be holding events to thank their volunteers and to celebrate volunteering. This year, although we cannot get together in the tradition sense, it is more important than ever to recognise the amazing work that charities and their volunteers have done, particularly during recent times. Here in Wokingham Borough, a number of local charities, town and parish councils and Wokingham Borough Council launched the Wokingham Borough Community Response group as soon as this crisis began and within days, hundreds of local people had signed up to volunteer. From delivering food parcels and prescriptions to those who are isolated, to making befriending phone calls to those who are alone, the volunteers who have helped over the past 8 weeks have made such a huge difference to people’s lives. Now, as we hope things are changing for the better, many local charities need the support of volunteers to move forward. Some of these, such as Citizens Advice Wokingham Borough need help from volunteers taking initial enquiries from people experiencing difficulties with debt, housing and employment. Problems like these would have been made much worse by the Covid-19 crisis and they need more volunteers to cope. Other charities include ABC to Read who support primary school children with their literacy, Link Visiting who provide Befrienders to the elderly, Age UK Berkshire who provide services to those over 50, Homestart who support families with advice and practical help and the Foodbank that provides emergency help to families. There are so many charities across Wokingham Borough who need your help. Nearly all of the roles are ongoing, aimed at volunteers who can help on a long-term basis. Some of the volunteers who helped in crisis will be heading back to work and the charities need extra support at this time. If you can give a few hours a week and are keen to make a difference in your local community, please get in touch.

Helena Badger, Volunteer Services Manager at the Wokingham Volunteer Centre says, “It always amazes me how willing people are to help and probably the only good thing to come out of this crisis is the sense of community. We really want people to keep this feeling going and continue to help people in need.” Volunteering really does change people’s lives; both those who volunteer and those who are helped by volunteers. Colin Crouch volunteers as a Driver for the Wokingham Transport Scheme, “The transport scheme was there to help my parents get to their vital medical appointments when I had to work. I was so grateful and impressed that I wanted to repay this help by volunteering myself when I retired. I started volunteering early last year and I am delighted to say I thoroughly enjoy meeting and assisting the people of Wokingham. It gives me great satisfaction that I now can help others in their time of need.”