June – a Youth Work volunteer

June is probably the longest serving volunteer  youth worker in Kirklees.  She has been involved in youth work since 1963, as a worker, and since 1995 as a volunteer.  That’s 54 years of continuous service to the young people of our district.

WheJune Barrown asked what keeps her going, June said that the young people had become a huge part of her life.  Being able to have contact with young people, give them help and advice and have fun with them, means she can leave her own problems behind and focus on them.  She believes it doesn’t matter that there’s such a big age gap between herself and the young people, saying: “as long as you’re doing a good job, age doesn’t matter.”  At the end of a night’s work, if she’s managed to help anyone, or give them the support they need, or beaten anyone at table tennis, she’s happy!   The current staff confirm that June is a big hit with the young people, and has become something of a role model.  Hannah Bettany, current Youth Worker in Holmfirth, said: “I don’t know what we’d do without her.”

As a youth worker, the greatest reward you can get is when the young people come back to you, when they’ve grown up, to tell you what you meant to them. As one grown-up young man said to June when she mentioned that she had no children of her own: “What do you mean, no children?  You’ve got absolutely hundreds!”

This year June has been honoured with an Exceptional Service Award for her contribution to volunteering in Kirklees. June’s response to being granted the Award was: “By gum! I’m still valuable!”

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Adrian – a Family Support volunteer

When Adrian left work in 2015 to start his own businesses as a Life Coach, he knew he wanted to volunteer to give back to the community before work commitments took over.

Adrian had volunteered with young people before and for some years had offered respite foster care: so when he was looking for a voluntary role, he knew he wanted to find something that would use his experience with young people as well as his skills as a life coach.  Adrian searched on the Do-It database, and found the Family Support role at Northorpe HallAdrian Wales.

 

As a Family Support volunteer, Adrian was matched to the family of an 8 year old boy with challenging behaviour. He spent two hours a week with the boy, giving him space to share his feelings without being judged and giving him tips on managing his anger (as well as some tips on football skills!) Mum also benefitted as Adrian offered her some 1-2-1 life coaching sessions, helping her not only to understand why she reacted to her son the way she did, but also to see things from his point of view.  Coaching also gave her hope, by helping her to think about her own aspirations and ambitions.

 

At first, Adrian wasn’t sure how much impact he was having on the boy he was matched with, it took so long for the boy to trust him and open up. But, slowly and surely the relationship grew, and now the match has come to an end, both mum, boy and Adrian himself were able to share with each other the ten things they had learned from their time together.  The boy can manage his anger better and work through his feelings, the mum now knows she is resilient and can understand why her son behaved as he did.  Through having Adrian volunteer, everyone learned to never give up.

Read about becoming a Family Supoort volunteer here: http://www.iminkirklees.org.uk/makeadifference/familysupport/

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Lorna – a library volunteer

Lorna loves books.  She loves them so much her own home is almost a library, so volunteering at Marsden Library and being surrounded by books is an ideal way to indulge her passion.  It has proved to be a perfect fit for her skills and experience as a retired Early Years teacher, too.  Every Friday afternoon in term time, Lorna takes classes from the local school for Storytime sessions:  sometimes she reads to them, while at other times she uses her skills as a former puppeteer and makes masks with them to tell the story. The rest of her shift is spent tidying shelves, helping people find the books they want, encouraging children to try new books and giving out Tourist Information.

 

Marsden library is the focal point of the village and provides residents with far more than just books.  As wellLorna Goldman as providing access to tourist information and computers, people often come in for a chat, and children use it as a safe place to wait.  The library is of huge benefit to the community, providing a resource which Lorna is keen to protect. When the call came for people to volunteer to step up to support the library service, Lorna and her husband Steve came forward to become some of the founder members of the Friends of Marsden Library group.

 

As part of this group, Lorna has been heavily involved in fund raising and organising activities to attract more people to use the library.  The activities held for Chinese New Year brought in a great number of people to the library, as does the regular Saturday Lego Club, which is a great way of attracting more children.  The library continues to be a big demand on her time, but while Lorna still has the opportunity to enjoy what she calls, “playing with books”, it all seems worthwhile to her!

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Susie and Jon: volunteer Friends of Holmfirth Library and Tourist Information Centre

When Holmfirth Library first put out a call for support, Susie and Jon were some of the first to step forward and volunteer their time.  They helped to set up the Friends of Holmfirth Library and Tourist Information Centre group (FOHLATIC) and have been on the management committee ever since. The aim was to raise funds and recruit enough volunteers to help keep the library going during these difficult financial times.

As well as giving their time to managing the group, they also volunteer actively in the library and Tourist

Susie and JohnInformation Centre.  They have helped out in a number of different ways: redecorating the library; running poetry evenings; organising book launches for local writers; starting a Lego club on Saturdays, running the summer reading challenge, organising quiz nights and socials to promote recruitment. But the activities they most enjoy are the ones they do with children, especially Storytime: “The thing that gives me most joy, that gives me real satisfaction, is running the Storytime sessions,” says Susie.  Jon agrees: “However fed-up or down I feel before I go in, I always come out of it with a smile on my face.”

Susie and Jon are both retired teachers: Susie taught English and was very involved in family learning and literacy, while Jon’s subject was drama. They both see real value in the library as a resource for families and are committed to protecting and promoting its place in the community.

Susie and Jon get a great deal of satisfaction from their volunteering.  They both feel the staff at the library are really supportive of the volunteers and there is a very friendly and positive relationship between them, making it a great place to volunteer.  They enjoy being involved in supporting and protecting such a dynamic library.  As Jon says: “Life would be duller without it!”

Read more about becoming a library volunteer here: http://www.iminkirklees.org.uk/makeadifference/libraryvolunteers/

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Vera – a Public Health Volunteer

At almost 92, Vera must surely be one of the oldest volunteers in Kirklees and she is certainly one of the longest serving: she has been a volunteer for the Public Health Service since retiring 25 years ago. There is no one working currently in Public Health who has served as long as Vera!   Vera started volunteering in 1991 for Health Promotion, when it sat within the NHS at the Princess Royal Health Centre.  Since then she has seen so many changes within the Service over the years, with staff coming and leaving and new technology being introduced along with numerous building moves but has never let anything faze her.

 

Every Wednesday Vera comes in to help out with proof reading documents, counting leaflets, mailshots, laVeraminating and many other administration jobs asked of her. Vera has the skills to be able to use a PC to carry out her work.   She is not afraid to learn new things and has an extremely strong work ethic.

 

Over the years, Vera’s contribution to the team and her high standard of work has been a huge asset, and has helped Public Health carry out their duties with improving the quality of life for the people of Kirklees.  Her team say: “Vera is meticulous in her work, a lot of the time going above and beyond what is expected of her.   She is an example to us all and is a joy to have around the office.”

 

Volunteering really suits Vera.  She enjoys the social networking it gives her with staff and knowing she is making a valuable contribution to the community gives her a real sense of satisfaction.  Vera will be 92 in June. She has already done 25 years of volunteering and has no intention of stopping!

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Charlotte – Reading Friends Volunteer

When Charlotte was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome (GBS) five years ago, her life changed dramatically.  GBS affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness, which meant Charlotte was unable to continue to work.  Determined not to give in to her illness, Charlotte has dedicated herself to volunteering and is now busier than ever!

Charlotte - Reading Friends

Charlotte hadn’t set out to become a volunteer, she fell into it almost by accident.  She had started taking adult education courses at her daughter’s school, and was encouraged by her tutor to take the Reading Friends course.  Although Charlotte had initially no interest in volunteering in schools, she enjoyed the course immensely, and has now been volunteering in her daughter’ school for two years.  Being a Reading Friends volunteer involves sitting with 3 children for 20 minutes each, once a week, and helping them to read, understand what they are reading and, most importantly, helping them to enjoy reading.

 

Charlotte loves this role.  It is flexible and fits around her lifestyle and her medical condition and she has found that being able to give something back to the community while learning new skills has really boosted her confidence.  She loves it when the children start to really engage with the books.  At first they are often quiet and withdrawn, but after three or four weeks they start to open up and show an interest in the book.  They become more chatty and when they start to laugh with you at something you are reading, or make connections themselves between different characters or different books, then you know you’ve really made a difference to that child’s reading level.  Charlotte finds it immensely rewarding: “The more attention you give them the more they blossom and start to engage.  They tell you everything about other books they’re reading in class as well as everything they did at the weekend!”

 

As well as being a Reading Friend, Charlotte is also a founder member and Chair of the school’s PTA, a peer mentor for the How Schools Work course, she runs an online support group for people with Sepsis and has just been asked to be lead volunteer for Yorkshire by the national charity.  Volunteering is certainly keeping her busy!

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Rod – Volunteer Walk Leader (Walking for Health)

In September 2013 Rod went for his annual MOT at his GP surgery and was to discover that he had developed Type 2 Diabetes. At 16 stone, he realised it was time to change his lifestyle. His main goal was to lose weight, and this meant changing his diet and increasing his activity levels.Rod - Walk Leader

His GP told him about PALs, the local GP exercise referral scheme, and he got signed up straight away. He started slowly, changing his diet first and then starting to work on his fitness as the weight started to drop. He started with one exercise class a week and a bit of badminton, gradually working up to four classes a week. Then Colin, a Physical Activity Motivator at Colne Valley Leisure Centre invited him to join the weekly health walk, so Rod went along and added regular walking to his expanding list of activities. As part of the PALs anniversary celebrations he had a go at Nordic walking and enjoyed it. So when a new weekly session started up in Marsden he became a regular. He enjoyed it so much he bought his own poles and started going to the Holmfirth group too.

Rod is now a fully qualified volunteer Walk Leader and Nordic Walk Leader. As well as enjoying the social side of organising walks, he his health has greatly benefitted from his volunteering. He now weighs a trim 10 ½ stone, exercises regularly, his BP and cholesterol have returned to normal and his Diabetes is well controlled.

Rod says: “I feel fitter now at 69 than when I was 59. Way back in 2013 I would get out of breath crossing the road and felt tired all the time. Now I feel energised.”

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Mental Health Awareness Week 8th-14th May

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May) with this year’s theme being ‘Thriving or Surviving’.  For our guest blog we have the privilege of welcoming Sian from Support to Recovery (S2R )to tell us about the exciting activities and events they have going on.

S2R have recentlyS2R relocated to “Create Space” in Brook Street, Huddersfield town centre, which is proving to be the ideal space for our fun and interactive workshops.   Set over 6 floors it follows three themes – Wellbeing, Creativity and Environment.  We have gallery and exhibition space, plus a refreshment area and an outside space.  It is well worth calling in as a glance through the window can only give a hint of all that is on offer.   Anyone over the age of 16 can come and enjoy our sessions (14 if accompanied by a responsible adult).

Crafts

For Mental Health Awareness Week we have planned activities from soap making to relaxation taster sessions.  There is also an open invitation to try out some of our regular sessions which include textile crafts, mosaic club and Carer’s Create.  You can take the opportunity to check out our allotment in Birkby or attend a Spring Weekend Wellbeing Session.  All sessions are planned to promote positive mental health and independence, giving people the opportunity to gain confidence, skills and make appropriate new friends.

The highlight of our Mental Health week celebrations is a live music night on Friday 12th May. There is music from 3 local bands, all of whom are giving their time for free. A hot supper is included thanks the Leanne Baker Trust, another local mental health charity that S2R works with regularly.  There will be mocktails and other non- alcoholic drinks from our Dry Bar.  We want to give people a chance to have a fun night out and relax in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

We also provide lots of opportunities to volunteer.  If you are interested in volunteering with S2R pop in and have a chat with our lovely staff who will try to match you with an opportunity you will enjoy and benefit from.

And remember we have lots of similar activities every week – not just for one week a year.  All local people are welcome to come and try new things, gain skills and confidence.  Every day we see remarkable changes in people.  It really is a fab place to work, volunteer or visit. You are welcome to call in for information and advice.   Below are some comments which highlight the positive difference we are making to people’s lives.

The staff were super clued up on dealing with people with mental health issues and the class was amazing, affordable and engaging.  Would recommend for anyone who is suffering from mental health issues, fancies a brew and a natter or just wants to buy some amazing art work!

Everyone is so understanding, encouraging and supportive, this includes staff, volunteers and other members! Every town should have a S2R! I honestly cant rave about this place enough.  Thank you guys, from the bottom of my heart.  I don’t know if I’d still be here without you xx

To find out more please visit our website www.s2r.org.uk or call 01484 539531.  You can book and pay for any of our courses on line.   We would love to see you at S2R so please feel free to call in for a chat at any time.  Our address is; S2R Create Space, 5-7 Brook Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1EB

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Spring into Action with Microvolunteering

Today is International Microvolunteering Day. To celebrate our guest blogger Val from Volunteering Kirklees shares how you can get involved.

 

Isn’t spring a wondSpringerful time?  The birds are singing, the flowers are starting to bloom, the sun is shining and you know summer is just around the corner!  Doesn’t all that make you feel good, energised and raring to go?  ‘Spring into Action’ is a campaign we have launched which lets you channel this feel good energy to making a difference in your community through microvolunteering.

 

For those not familiar with microvolunteering, it’s all about helping out for a short period of time with no long term commitment.  Opportunities available this spring range from helping to maintain the wonderful Trans Pennine Trail to helping to ensure runners have a great run.  Our full list of opportunities can be found here

 

If none of these take your fancy there are other ways you can help out.  Happy Hour is a place where you can find other microvolunteering opportunities available across Kirklees.  You can access current opportunities by clicking the link here.  If you don’t see anything that takes your fancy through either of these sites you can sign up here to be informed of future opportunities.

 

If you have skills that would make a difference to groups in Kirklees but haven’t been able to match them to an opportunity listed, why not offer them on Comoodle?  Comoodle is a platform where you can share your stuff space and skills with your community.  Register your skills here

 

 

Why not put a spring in your step by making adifference to people in Kirkleesmicrovolunteering day is 15th April every year

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End of Year Volunteer Celebration Event

This month our guest blogger is Jim Dodds, Mayor of Kirklees who hosted two end of year celebration events for volunteers last week.

volunteers

This time of year usually provides us with the opportunity to take stock of the past year.  This week I had the pleasure of attending a volunteer celebration event to say thank you to volunteers for the amazing contribution they have made in Kirklees over the past year.  It is estimated that over 30 million hours are given a year in Kirklees: but it is not just the amount of hours given which is amazing. It is also the difference these hours make to the lives of people in Kirklees.  Volunteering has meant:

 

  • we have been able to offer the vital hand of friendship to many of the older generation, for whom it is more difficult to get out and about
  • when some people have experienced trauma in their lives, there has been someone there to say “it’s okay you are not alone”
  • that for people going through tough times we have been able to say, “Here’s some food, here’s some clothes, and let’s together help make life better”
  • people fleeing war and persecution, who have been too close to the worst that the world has to offer, have been welcomed and helped to make a new life here
  • hundreds of miles of paths are regularly cleared so that more of us can experience the stunning beauty of this place we call home
  • children (of all ages!) have been able to take part in outdoor activities, sport and experience the true value of teamwork, physical exercise and all the benefits that this will bring to them throughout their lives
  • people who have been the furthest from the job market have been able to find opportunities to learn and to develop skills in non-threatening and nurturing community environments, often cheered on by people who have been in the same position

 

And this really is where volunteering particularly comes into its own – more so than any other kind of help.  It makes it possible to reach out to people experiencing something incredibly difficult, or personal, because it is something the volunteers themselves have survived.  Whether it be bereavement, sexual violence or life limiting conditions, it means having someone to talk to who has walked that mile in shoes just like yours.  Sometimes that can sometimes make all the difference.  And what better way to show the diffevolunteersrence volunteering makes than from the volunteers themselves.

I said that there are more than 30 million volunteer hours in Kirklees. And it’s true that we may never know the full extent of everything those hours achieve. But we do know that it is much to be thankful for.

So, on behalf of everyone in Kirklees:  Thank You.

Keep up the great work you are doing, and may your work inspire more like you in 2017!

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