Newlife has issued a massive thank you to all the volunteers who have supported them, especially over the past year, and urges anyone with time to spare to get involved, as the UK marks National Volunteer Week.
There are many ways volunteers are vital to Newlife’s work of supporting disabled and terminally ill children across the UK, but when lockdown began due to Covid-19 it hit the volunteer community hard.
Much of Newlife’s volunteer activity takes place in aid of their retail stores at the Volunteer Opportunity Centre at Hemlock Way, Cannock, where volunteers come together to help process some of the donated stock. But the centre and all Newlife’s stores remained closed for seven months out of the last financial year due to the devastating impact of the pandemic – and even when the charity was open Covid restrictions limited volunteer hours.
However, despite real concerns about the devastating effects of Covid, during 2020 and even during early 2021, 90 amazing volunteers selflessly gave over 3,200 hours of their time to help Newlife.
Sharon Maddox, known as Shaz, from Cannock, is a Newlife volunteer who returned at the earliest opportunity. She said: “I began volunteering for six hours a week three years ago after previously working in a biscuit factory for 22 years. I saw a volunteering role for Newlife advertised at Job Club and decided to go for it as I had been getting really down and fed up stuck at home.
“I had been having difficulty getting another job and wanted to get out of the house and meet new people. I thought it would also help my confidence levels after being out of work for a while.”
When volunteering at Newlife stopped due to Covid Shaz became fed up and bored at home. She said: “I couldn’t wait to start volunteering again and now I’m back I feel ok again. I like to be around the people at the Opportunity Centre, everyone is friendly and they always make me feel welcome.
“I do feel safe there as all the Covid regulations are in place with tables cleaned, temperatures taken and masks worn. Anyone interested should just go for it – it’s made me feel better about myself, especially as I know I’m helping children with disabilities.”
Newlife currently has four specific volunteer roles available which can help people develop new skills, boost confidence and help meet new people, all while supporting disabled children. These are a Stock Preparation Assistant to help manually move cages and crates and assist with loading and unloading vans. A Retail Assistant to help keep displays tidy and well stocked and help create a happy atmosphere for customers, a Van Driver to move goods between stores and a Loan Facilitator to prepare specialist toys to be loaned out in Newlife’s Play Therapy Pods. This will involve cleaning and testing toys for use in family homes.
Newlife’s Volunteer Community and Support Officer, Sam Cooper, said she was amazed and in awe of the charity’s wonderful volunteers who have remained committed to help where they can.
She added: “Many of our wonderful volunteers are already flocking back, desperate to help Newlife out now they have had their vaccinations. Their dedication to helping disabled children is remarkable to see and since re-opening we have already had more than 1,000 volunteer hours, despite socially distancing and Covid-19 safe measures being in place.
“Volunteer Week is a great chance to thank all our wonderful volunteers as their commitment and dedication helps to change the lives of so many disabled children and their families. On behalf of them we say thank you!”
For more details about the current volunteer roles please contact Sam Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07903265375.