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The Benefits of Volunteering


It’s Volunteers’ week June 3rd to the 7th and this year it’s its 40th anniversary.  So, whilst we appreciate the volunteers that support Village Greens all year round, this is a great opportunity to say a public thank you to them and highlight the important role volunteers, like them, play in supporting organisations in the VCSE sector.



A survey for the most recent State of the Sector report (GMCVO, 2021) found the number of volunteers throughout Greater Manchester to be a whopping 496,609 and this includes committee/board members, like ours at Village Greens!  These volunteers were calculated to be giving 1.4 million hours of time each week!  Based on the living wage these hours had a monetary value of £692 million per year in 2021.  If the same number of volunteers are contributing just as many hours today, that is a massive £833 million of value per year!


Of course, it's not just about the monetary value. Volunteers also bring skills, knowledge, commitment, enthusiasm and take on many roles.  In our posts and blogs you will have seen that Village Greens has benefitted greatly from volunteers: on our board, supporting the day to day in the shop, collecting orders, lockdown deliveries, supporting projects such as the Community Fridge, marketing and representing us at events. 


An interesting paper by The National Lottery, Assessing the value of volunteers in community businesses (Power to Change, 2020), asserts that ‘a group of engaged and committed volunteers is instrumental in setting up community businesses, providing enthusiasm, drive and at times specific professional support.’  This was certainly the case with Village Greens as the hardworking founders put in their time, energy and creativity to grow the idea of a community co-operative alternative to the supermarkets and to raise the money needed to set it up.  Without all of this support from them and all of the volunteers that followed, Village Greens would not be where it is today and so a big thank you goes out to everyone who has been part of the journey.



As much as volunteers benefit organisations like Village Greens, I am sure that if you ask our volunteers that they will tell you that the benefits flow both ways.  Time well Spent data (NCVO, 2023) looked at the impact volunteering had on volunteers with a huge range of reasons given.  The most common response simply being, I enjoy it.  The reasons were plentiful though:


It makes me feel I'm making a difference

It gives me a sense of personal achievement

I meet new people

It broadens my experience of life

It improves my mental health and wellbeing

It brings me into contact with people from different backgrounds or cultures

It gives me more confidence

It gives me new skills and experience

It helps me feel less isolated

It improves my physical health

It improves my employment prospects

 

Many of these reasons are exemplified in our Assistant Manager Emma’s fantastic Volunteer Journey which she shared last year, and is definitely worth another share now.


“I’m proof that volunteering can have a massive positive impact on your life. 

In 2016 I suffered with severe anxiety that stopped me being able to leave the house. In 2017 I became a volunteer at VG as I wanted to slowly get back into work but didn’t know if I was ready to do so. Every Thursday I’d come and help restock the shelves and quickly fell in love with the place/people.  Everyone was super supportive and friendly and it felt a very safe space to be in. A few months later a single shift became available on a Monday and I was asked if I was able to take it as a paid member of staff. I jumped at the chance.  Slowly I became more confident and began to cover more shifts as a casual member of staff. In 2018 I became a key holder with shift coordinator responsibilities in the shop.  This was a huge step for me as it meant becoming a contracted member of staff who was expected to do set hours a week. Something a year previously I honestly couldn’t have ever seen myself able to do. Fast forward to Feb 2023 and I became the Assistant Manager.  Without becoming a volunteer 6 years ago I honestly don’t think I would have progressed so far.  I owe a lot to VG and the family/ friends that have come as a result. So thank you Team VG past and present for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself and for providing a safe and fun environment for me to grow.  Emma”


With so much to gain and lots to offer, if you have some spare time on your hands, why not look around for

an organisation that you have an affinity with and reach out. The benefits are immeasurable.


Thanks again to all of the volunteers out there this Volunteers’ Week, and thank you for reading.


Karen :-)

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