Call for more community spirit to boost neighbourhoods

Call for more community spirit to boost neighbourhoods


Jon Land
24.dash.com
26.09.06



Volunteers play important role in boosting community spirit


A major new survey by a leading volunteering charity has today shown almost 80% of people across England want to see more community spirit in their neighbourhoods but many don’t know how to make the change.


In response to the poll, charity chiefs at Volunteering England are now launching a campaign which aims to show how easy it is to help boost community spirit by contacting a local volunteer centre.


Researchers discovered almost two-thirds of people in the poll would be more likely to volunteer if it was easier to get into.


When asked in which area they would most like to take action to improve their community, nearly a third of people said crime and safety, while a quarter wanted to see more opportunities and services for children and young people. More support and care for older people also came high up on the list.


Jane Heath, assistant director of outreach services at Volunteering England, said: ‘We know that many people think about volunteering in their local community but simply don’t know where to start.


‘Volunteer Centres help make it more straightforward for people wanting to make the jump into volunteering.


‘There are over 300 branches around the country and they can tell you what voluntary work is available locally and put you in touch with charities and groups that need your help and match your interests.


‘You can chat in person about what you want to do and get volunteering advice and support.’


As well as making a difference to others, the charity said there are many ways volunteers themselves can benefit – from gaining new skills and experience to having fun and meeting new people.


There is even research to suggest that volunteering can reduce stress levels and improve your health and well-being because you are doing something positive and rewarding.


George Graham, from Plymouth, used his local Volunteer Centre to gain experience to restart his career.


He was working in personnel and opted for a complete change of lifestyle when he started volunteering with the environmental charity, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).


When George visited the Volunteer Centre in Plymouth, he was surprised by the variety of options available.


He said: ‘I certainly used volunteering to my advantage. The Volunteer Centre gave me the confidence to take up a new role and eventually buy my own company.


‘I’ve also met a number of really interesting people at BTCV who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.’


The survey also revealed that the British public feel Coronation Street is the soap with the most community spirit. The Manchester soap received a third of the votes ahead of rivals EastEnders and Emmerdale.


To get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre, call 0845 347 9360 or visit www.volunteercentres.org



Copyright Press Association 2006.