THIS Friday [June 1] sees the start of Volunteers Week, a celebration of the millions of people who give up their time to help worthy causes in the UK.
Across West Kent, volunteering stories and information about a wide range of roles are being gathered and will be compiled by the Volunteer Centre West Kent in a special edition newsletter.
This will be available on the Imago website www.imago.community, the Facebook page Volunteer Centre West Kent and at the Imago charity shop on Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells.
To find out how you can help your local community by sharing a few hours of your time, skills or experience, visit www.do-it.org to search by area, type of role and availability.
Volunteering is not just about helping others, it also allows you to try new activities, meet people and improve your CV.
Kate Raper, from Southborough, volunteers for Dial 2 Drive, a service provided by Imago to help people who are unable to access public transport due to age, illness or disability across West Kent.
Volunteer drivers use their own cars to take clients to doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, but also to social appointments like lunch clubs and hairdressers, and on shopping trips. The team drove more than 12,500 journeys last year.
Kate said: ‘Volunteering for Dial 2 Drive is such a good thing to do. It helps people get out and about to their appointments.
‘It fits around my own life as I can offer time that suits me and the passengers are always so grateful for the service.
‘Sometimes we are the only contact some people have each week, so it’s so important. I started volunteering this year and love it.’
Donna Ramsay volunteers with Kent Young Carers [KYC] and said: ‘I would certainly recommend to anyone to give up some time to support their communities.’
‘I work for a bank in London who are very supportive of giving back to our local communities and allow me the flexibility to do it.
‘I participate in club activities at different locations around Kent. It’s a great opportunity to really make a difference.
‘Volunteering just a few hours a month is all it takes to keep these great clubs going and to help the amazing young carers who come along.’
Kent Young Carers is the countywide service for those aged five to 18 who take on caring responsibilities for a family member with a long-term illness, disability, mental health or substance misuse issues.
KYC works with schools, communities and agencies to identify hidden young carers. After assessment, it offers a range of short-term interventions, including signposting, one-to-one support, in-school support and workshops.
In partnership with Kent County Council, it also offers a two-hour, multi-agency training programme to safeguard vulnerable children.
The session focuses on resilience, confidence-building and improved wellbeing for young people and their families.
For more information about volunteering opportunities, visit www.imago.community
PICTURE: SUITS YOU: Kate Raper can fit in her hours with Dial 2 Drive around her work