Volunteers of the year recognised
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 June 2014
DEDICATED volunteers were presented with awards to celebrate their hard work over the past year.
Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) held its annual volunteer of the year awards at Knightstone Housing’s offices at Weston Gateway Business Park on Monday.
Research by VANS shows how across North Somerset, people in the voluntary sector give around 61,160 hours a week.
And that figure does not include hours given in libraries and children’s centres.
In total, 30 voluntary and community bodies nominated a volunteer to attend, recognising their long service, outstanding contributions and stand-out dedication.
Rebecca Mear, chief executive officer with VANS, said: “This is one of the few times we get to say thank you to all the volunteers in North Somerset.
“A lot of their work goes unnoticed and this is about thanking them on behalf of the community.
“It’s good for volunteers to hear about each other’s work and I hope they realise how crucial their contributions are and that we don’t take them for granted.”
Holly Pendleton, aged 17 and of Weston, has been volunteering for Mencap since she was 11 and was one of those to receive an award.
The charity supports people with learning disabilities, and Holly regularly gives one-to-one support and works at a youth centre.
Holly said: “Because of my age, it’s a really proud thing to say you do.
“I have helped changed people’s lives but it has also changed my life and helped me become the person I am today.
“I have learnt a lot of life skills through this, and I’d tell anyone considering volunteering to go and do it.”
Laura Jones, aged 34, was nominated for two awards – one for a project on Weston’s Bournville estate called Growing Together and another for North Somerset Scrapstore.
She said: “They’re both great projects in different ways, so I’ve loved being involved.
“I became a volunteer as I was looking for something to do but it’s helped to link different people from all over the community and it has been really worthwhile.”
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ONE of the key elements of the Duke of Edinburgh Award is volunteering – and millions of pounds worth of hours are put in by those taking part.
There are more than 9,500 participants aged 14-24 taking part in the award scheme in the South West, and young people give free time worth around £24million per year.
Volunteers also contribute more than £17million annually.
Many give up free time to run charity shops, lead sport activities and help people in need.
Peter Singleton, DofE director for the South West, said: “Young people doing their DofE across the UK and our volunteers put an estimated £41million back into society in volunteering hours per year.
“This is a phenomenal figure showing the huge benefit of the DofE to local communities and individuals alike. “
To find out more about the award, visit www.dofe.org