Online festival seeks to boost mental health and recruit more volunteers

Janet Perry of Community Action Suffolk

Businesses, charities, neighbourhood groups and emergency services are to rally together to create a virtual initiative designed to accelerate a commitment to volunteering in Suffolk.

The county’s voluntary sector has been drastically hit by the pandemic, and urgently needs the community to be reminded of the huge amount of opportunity and benefit in taking on volunteering roles.

Throughout Suffolk Action Week – running from Monday 5th October – organisations will deliver virtual talks, insights, Q&A sessions and updates about their volunteering opportunities.

The week’s activity will culminate in a dedicated online Volunteering Festival, on Wednesday. This will involve live facebook sessions, video stories, and music, with a different feature every hour between 10am and 3pm.

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It will also feature an original song about volunteering, written by Jon Wright, from BBC Radio Suffolk.

Janet Perry, Volunteering Services Officer for Community Action Suffolk, says the week’s activity, and in particular, the Volunteering Festival come at a key time for Suffolk.

“Coming at a point when so many organisations are in need of more help, and so many individuals are looking to improve their skills and experiences in a bid to help them find a job – this really is a great time for us to be hosting a Volunteering Festival,” she said.

“Covid has presented so many challenges for the voluntary sector, and part of that is the loss of regular volunteering support.

“Our hope is that we can engage more people from across Suffolk who may never have considered volunteering previously, but now realise it could be hugely beneficial in helping them gain more skills, connections and confidence – all of which help people improve their mental health, and become more attractive for work roles.”

Involved in the week of activity, are such organisations as Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Community Foundation, St Elizabeth Hospice, Zest, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, Emmaus, Suffolk Family Carers, Greenprint Forum, Lowestoft & Kessingland Community Enablers, Family First, Suffolk Sight, Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, Lighthouse Women’s Aid, Suffolk Archives, Re-Utilise, Mendlesham Scout Group, Citizen Advice MidSuffolk.

Funmi Akinriboya, founder of a BME Suffolk support group, will also feature during the festival, with a film to thank volunteers.

The complete Suffolk Action Week Schedule includes:

5th Mon Trusteeship

6pm In Conversation: Becoming a Young Trustee (With Hannah & Anthony)

6th Tuesday  –  Suffolk Good Neighbours & Community Support Groups

9am – Virtual Coffee Morning with Jane (community group volunteers)

2pm  ‘Emergency Response & Mutual Aid to Good Neighbours Network !’ Facebook Live visit   @GNS FB page 

7th Weds (am) Volunteering Festival 2020 (10am – 3pm) @volunteersuffolk facebook page

8th Thursday  Volunteer Pathways

Volunteer pathways – routes to your next job. Facebook live with Faye  Visit facebook @volunteersuffolk

Employer Supported Volunteering information session for Suffolk County Council staff

9th Friday – Active Volunteering

10am : Virtual Volunteering Coffee Morning with St Elizabeth Hospice All events and opportunities can be accessed online. Prior booking can be completed by going to  the Volunteer Suffolk’s facebook page, or by emailing Janet.perry@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk.

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