More than 50,000 people in Sutton - a quarter of the borough’s population - undertake some voluntary work each year. And more of Sutton’s young people than ever before are turning to volunteering, both to give something back to the community and to learn new skills and to gain practical experience they need to help secure a job.
At the start of National Volunteer Week (1-12 June) Sutton Council is thanking the many thousands of volunteers who give of their time freely to work for the hundreds of organisations including schools and charities in the borough.
These include volunteers for Sutton Council’s Friends of Parks and the borough’s ALPS (Advice Link in Partnership with Sutton) service – both of which need still more volunteers. The council also supports its staff to volunteer by offering two days of volunteering work a year in the borough.
Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “Our Lib Dem administration has always placed great importance on encouraging volunteers to get involved in their community. National Volunteer Week is a great opportunity to thank those who do volunteer in Sutton at least once each year and who have contributed to our community in a voluntary capacity during the past 12 months.
“We are proud to live in a borough where so many people of all ages are community-minded. Volunteers help the council to continue to provide necessary services and contribute a tremendous amount to local charities and the wider community by offering their time and talents for the greater good.”
Sutton Council part-funds Volunteer Centre Sutton (VCS), which gives advice, training and support, and places volunteers with charities across the borough.
Chris Parker, Chief Executive Officer of VCS, said: “I’m inspired by the 50,000 people who volunteer in Sutton each year. They are a shining example of how we can all make a big difference to our community every day, improving the environment we live in, spending time with those who may otherwise be lonely and contributing to a range of other essential services and support.
“Thank you to each and every person who give so generously of their time and talents. We believe volunteering is the answer to many of our society’s biggest challenges, so here at Volunteer Centre Sutton we’ve invested in a new website and ‘Volunteer Connect’ system, designed to Inspire Community and make it even easier for local people to connect to local volunteering opportunities.”
VCS statistics show that more young people aged 18 to 25 are becoming volunteers in the Sutton borough and make up around one-third of new volunteers. The charity estimates that volunteers in Sutton give the equivalent of £7m in time each year.
Friends groups for the borough’s many parks are also keen to recruit more volunteers. Hundreds of people already regularly help with the care and upkeep of the borough’s 80 parks, which cover 438 hectares – about 8.5 per cent of the borough. There are all sorts of small tasks that volunteers can do to help keep the parks in great condition.
In Sutton there are more than a dozen Friends of the Parks groups of varying sizes of between five and 100 people. Some Friends of Parks volunteers are actively involved in such tasks as litter picking, cleaning up the river, painting signs and doing all kinds of practical things to help care for their local park.
When people volunteer they are recommended to join an existing Friends of Parks group but volunteers are also welcome if they want to set up new groups for parks without established groups. Volunteers can get together with neighbours and friends and perhaps their ward councillors. The Parks Service will be happy to provide advice and a draft constitution for groups.
To volunteer and join one of the Friends of Parks groups or to start a new group, contact Mark Dalzell, Head of Parks, Biodiversity and Street Cleansing at Sutton Council, on 020 8770 5070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ALPS (Advice Link in Partnership with Sutton) service is seeking more volunteers to assist with its Information and Advice services. Roles available include adviser, gateway assessor, information assistant, driver, befriender and admin assistant. In-house training is provided for all roles. To become an ALPS volunteer, visit the website suttonalps.org.uk.
Steve Triner, SBCABx (Sutton Citizens Advice Bureaux) Chief Executive said: “Between Sutton CAB, Age UK Sutton, Sutton Carers Centre and the borough’s Library service we have around 100 volunteers. But we are looking for more people to assist us with this ground-breaking borough service. We would welcome more volunteers from all sections of our community to assist us with the running of this exciting venture.”
The service is funded by Sutton Council and the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund. It is led by SBCABx and supported by organisations from the Sutton Together consortium including Age UK Sutton and Sutton Carers Centre, with the borough’s Library Service a key partner.
- VCS is on West Street, off St Nicholas Way, Sutton and is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm. The VCS website is at vcsutton.org.uk.
- VCS is running a volunteers’ big breakfast at the Salvation Army on Benhill Road on Tuesday 7 June from 8.30 to 10.30am. The event will allow the Sutton community to thank its volunteers.