It is National Volunteers’ Week and Oxford City Council is saying a heartfelt thank you to everyone who gives their time and energy freely to help make our community a better place.
Whether it’s a one off act or a regular commitment, whatever the project, volunteers make a phenomenal difference. This year, especially, the Council wants to recognise and applaud volunteers who have helped people in need through the pandemic.
Volunteers in action
During the last 12 months, the Council’s Oxford Together partnership with Oxford Hub matched over 4000 requests for help to willing volunteers. They have provided invaluable help with practical tasks such as grocery shopping and collecting prescriptions for people who are housebound or self-isolating.
Volunteers have also been helping to tackle social isolation through a ‘phone link’ service, where those who are struggling with loneliness are matched to a suitable, trained volunteer who can call them every day to check in on them and provide a listening ear and a friendly voice.
But it is not just Oxford Hub. There are countless other organisations that have helped. The council has also worked with Oxford Mutual Aid, Oxford Homeless Project, Oxford Community Action, the Central Mosque and many more organisations whose selfless, dedicated volunteers have helped deliver vital services and support since the first lockdown.
Volunteers have also been supporting the NHS by helping at vaccine centres and testing centres, taking people to medical appointments and those who have helped Oxford’s medical researchers with vaccine and treatment research.
“The role of volunteers in helping Oxford through the pandemic cannot be overstated. There have also been hundreds of people who have continued their non-covid related volunteering, supporting communities and individuals through extremely challenging times. I cannot thank them enough.
“All these volunteers are doing something life changing – for themselves as well as those they help. They embody kindness, compassion and solidarity in action. They embody inclusiveness, diversity and compassion.
“They show people power in action and what can be achieved when we come together to make a difference. Their commitment to each other and the communities they serve is humbling.
“I also want to thank everyone who took time to check on a friends or neighbour, especially those who are vulnerable or facing challenges. It might not be labelled ‘volunteering’ but without these human connections and compassion many more people across our city would be struggling. These support networks have also enabled more people to connect with their neighbours and communities including people unable to formally volunteer due to other commitments in their lives.”
“Whether it is joining a litter pick or sharing professional expertise to help people back into employment, volunteering offers innumerable opportunities to help people and to also learn from people too, to build bonds and connections. There are so many ways to get involved in volunteering and work with people and communities to improve lives.”
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member Inclusive Communities
There are numerous ways to get involved in volunteering locally. These are just a few examples of how people can take the first steps towards giving any time they have to spare to make a difference, learn new skills and widen their professional and/or social networks.
Carl Whitehead, who is both Oxford City Council Volunteer Co-ordinator and an ODS Countryside Ranger, organises conservation activities for between eight and 10 volunteers in areas including conservation and scything management. For information about volunteering visit www.oxford.gov.uk/volunteer or email Carl: [email protected]
Team Oxford is a partnership project between Aspire Oxford, Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Association (OCVA), Brookes University, Oxford City Council, Oxford Health NHS Foundation, and Oxford Computer Consultants. It connects local employees with organisations in Oxford that depend on volunteers. To find out more visit: https://www.team-oxford.co.uk/volunteer
OxClean is an Oxford Civic Society initiative dedicated to keeping the city clean and tidy all year round. Working in partnership with Oxford City Council, The Oxford Times and local community groups and schools, it runs the OxClean Spring Clean each year. If you have just one or two days with a little time to spare, you can register to join the event on Saturday June 5th or June 12th. More information and register: https://www.oxclean.org.uk/