Walsall for All, a partnership programme between the Council, voluntary groups, the public and private sectors, are marking Volunteers Week 2020 not with a celebration, but with a thank you.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Walsall has seen an upsurge in both the need and response from the voluntary sector. Walsall for All says that whilst Volunteers Week is ordinarily an opportunity to celebrate the work of volunteers, it wants to use this opportunity to recognise and thank all those who have helped out during the crisis, despite the challenging circumstances. The result is the Walsall for All Star Volunteer Awards, an opportunity to nominate individuals or teams who have gone the extra mile, whose volunteering has had a massive impact and deserve special recognition.
A special certificate of commendation is being issued to all those nominated and will be delivered electronically until such a time that is safe to provide hard copies. Walsall for All hopes that, once safe to do so, they can bring groups and nominees together for an event to celebrate the hard work of the voluntary sector.
One such recipient will be 86 year old Ronald (Ron) Davies (pictured). Ron was referred to Old Hall People’s Partnership as part of the Making Connections Walsall Programme, who - alongside Bloxwich Community Partnership, Manor Farm and Accord Age Matters - provide food parcels, prescription delivery and befriending alongside many other services.
Ron began attending some of the services’ luncheon clubs and social activities enabling him to talk openly about his feelings and increasing his confidence. He became one of the larger characters at the centre and, after some training, became a volunteer befriender himself. Ron’s usual caseload is 14 but since the COVID-19 crisis this has increased significantly.
Ron says the service, and volunteering in particular, saved his life: “Volunteering is a wonderful, wonderful thing it helps you and it helps the people you support. Volunteering has become a part of me and I’ve never looked back.”
Davina Lytton, Interim CEO at One Walsall, an organisation that represents the voluntary sector in the borough, said: “Walsall’s response to requests for volunteer support during COVID-19 has been overwhelming. This provides a fantastic opportunity to highlight the amazing work Walsall residents have been delivering through this difficult time.”
Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Communities, said: ‘It goes without saying a volunteer is worth more than their weight in gold and contributes in the most positive way to civic and community life. COVID-19 has shone a light on many individuals some taking up a volunteer badge for their first time. The individual and collective acts of kindness, the generosity of spirit and goodwill have been an inspiration to many and it is right they are recognised.”
The Awards and nominations are open to any volunteer or voluntary organisation in the borough and the deadline for submissions is Friday June 5th. Nominations can be made online at http://tiny.cc/WfAstarvolunteer.