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Article date - 01 June 2021
Held in June each year, National Volunteers Week is a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you, particularly for everything they have done during the past year - playing such a key role in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Recognising the impact the act of volunteering has had on local communities the last year which has seen around 1,700 people support more than 32,000 vulnerable people, St Helens Borough Council has made it a key part of a new borough strategy - working with partners to make volunteering easier for people, while continuing the legacy of the award-winning #StHelensTogether campaign which won Covid-19 Response Recognition Award at the iNetwork awards in March.
Among those to volunteer their time to make a real difference are retired husband and wife, Chris and Roisin Hodgson, who were on a cruise ship when the pandemic broke out.
Feeling as though they wanted to give something back to their community, they both applied to work as volunteers at a GP-led vaccination clinic and the Totally Wicked Stadium where they have worked more than 300 hours between them.
Roisin, who has previously volunteered at an asymptomatic testing centre, said: “Once the pandemic is over, we hope to get back to our travelling. For now, we are enjoying working at the vaccination clinic two or three sessions a week.
“It really has been great being able to give back to our community in this way and do our bit.”
“The best part is everyone has been so helpful and friendly,” added Chris – who has also supported Halton and St Helens VCA during the pandemic by delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents.
“When you see patients coming in, they are so grateful that it’s their turn to get the vaccine. Some patients are anxious when they arrive so it’s nice to be able to reassure them and be the friendly face they need, sometimes we are the only face they will see that day.”
Meanwhile, Haydock man, Stephen Mousdell, has made a bloomin’ big difference in his local community over the past few months, taking it upon himself to go out filling empty planters around Haydock and surrounding areas with beautiful bright flowers which has brought a smile to many during such a difficult year.
Taking on a ‘be the change you want to see’ attitude after noticing the lack of plants around town on his commute to work, green fingered Stephen has taken inspiration from similar projects like Rainford in Bloom, putting in countless hours and even setting up a crowdfunding appeal which is now in its thousands.
“We’ve got to look after where we live and sometimes that means pulling our own finger out to get things done, “said Stephen.
“I know which side my bread is buttered, and I love where I live. When something bad happens, everyone around here bands together - that’s one thing you can say about St Helens people.
“I never expected my movement to get so big and it’s so nice to see everyone get behind it, with people helping out more now, whether it’s by coming out fixing benches or watering the plants.
“If I can do something like this – then so can anyone.”
Praising every single volunteer for their efforts, St Helens Borough Council Leader David Baines said:
“There’s no way we could have got through the past year without the commitment of our dedicated, loyal army of volunteers who have stepped up to ease the burden on the huge pressures we’ve faced – whether it’s by ensuring the most vulnerable in our borough had everything they needed during the peak of the pandemic; helping out on our covid testing and vaccination programmes – or looking after the environment like Stephen who is an absolute credit to our borough.
“We’ll be forever in the debt of all volunteers but what we can do is simply say thank you for their contribution in instilling a sense of community spirit in our borough which we as a council are committed to building on. I would encourage anyone who can spare some of their time to get involved to help us take #StHelensTogether to the next level.”
Sally Yoeman, Chief Executive of and St Helens Voluntary Community Action added:
“Volunteers have always played a big part in St Helens life, but over the past 12 months they have made such a huge difference. They have helped get their shopping, walk their dogs, provided a listening ear and helped the borough with the testing and vaccination centres, giving us all a chance to get back to a more normal life.
“At VCA we have been in awe of the contribution that volunteers have made to our #StHelensTogether efforts and we want to say a huge thank you for everything they have done and everything they continue to do this Volunteers Week.”
As we start to recover and rebuild from the impact of the pandemic , St Helen’s Borough Council wants to continue to support the work of existing and new volunteers. So if you would like to get involved in looking after your streets, neighbourhoods and community buildings, please register your details on the volunteer portal .