Volunteering to help out

Bassetlaw Community Volunteer Services feature.  Pictured centre is BCVS Director Geraldine Pearce  (w121016-7)
Bassetlaw Community Volunteer Services feature. Pictured centre is BCVS Director Geraldine Pearce (w121016-7)

IF anything good can be said to have come out of the economic downturn, it’s the increase in the number of people volunteering.

With more people finding themselves at a loose end, either through redundancy or being unable to find paid work, they are offering to lend a hand to help others.

Bassetlaw Community and Voluntary Service has seen four times the number of people offering to do voluntary work this year.

Director Geraldine Pearce said this was because of the economic situation, but also because they had moved to a new location in the centre of Worksop where it’s easier for people to pop in.

They are now based in the former schoolroom next to the Priory Church, a grade II listed Victorian building which has undergone extensive renovation.

Geraldine said: “There has a been a huge increase in people wanting to volunteer because of the numbers looking for work.”

“It’s good for your health to volunteer because you have that engagement with people which helps with a positive attitude in looking for work.”

“It gives you a reason to get up in the morning and provides some structure to the day.”

“Volunteering can also help you to learn new skills which can be added to your CV and we’ve had a lot of success in helping people get back into work.”

“We have a good relationship with Jobcentre Plus in Worksop.”

“We have noticed a big increase in footfall being here, compared to Park Street where we were before, so we have had a lot more people calling in to find out about volunteering opportunities.”

She said they had all age groups offering their services, from young people right through to the retired.

BCVS operates a brokerage service, in that it has a database of volunteers, and organisations looking for volunteers, and matches the two up.

Geraldine said: “Organisations and charities get in touch with us saying what sort of volunteers they are looking for and we match them with the volunteers we have registered.”

BCVS is a charity and company limited by guarantee, and comes under the Voluntary and Community Sector umbrella.

Chair Fran Walker said BCVS began in 1974, but had previously been called the Council for Community Care, which was when she first became involved with it.

She said: “It was set up as a way of helping the community and volunteering was seen as key.”

“I’m very proud of what BCVS does, it’s a bit of an icon within the voluntary sector and is well known for the active work it does.”

BCVS is funded by Notts County Council, Bassetlaw Council, and NHS Bassetlaw, but has suffered from funding cutbacks along with many other charities.

“It has been tough but we are very activist both at local and national level, we have to keep on the ball with new developments and what’s going on,” said Geraldine.

They also run training courses and have rooms and equipment which can be hired by community groups, and can help with funding applications and legal advice.

For more information about volunteering call 476118 or email admin@bcvs.org.uk.