Volunteers’ Week is always a special time of year for everyone in the sector. A time to celebrate the contribution of millions and to recognise the sacrifices that these people make to improve so many varied causes across the UK. This year that sentiment is particularly poignant to many and, although the week will be more sombre, it’s more important than ever that we take this chance to say ‘thank you’ to volunteers across the country.
Volunteers are important during the best of times. Without them, many of the most important parts of society simply do not function; from universities and schools to sports teams and community centres to food banks and befriending groups and many, many more services that millions of people rely on.
In my role at as Volunteer Centre Manager at the London School of Economics I’m fortunate enough to see examples of this on a daily basis, whether it’s an interfaith group helping with homelessness, improving the rights of refugees in the UK, empowering women and girls across the world or mentoring a year 11 student at a local school. All of the students in these stories are making a difference and I know that this will be replicated by millions of others across the country.
In the circumstances that we’re facing now with COVID-19 they become even more immediately crucial. All of us know people who have been reliant on food and medicine deliveries, or those that are home alone and receive telephone calls to help keep their spirits up or NHS staff who have received meals and treats to help them get through long and distressing shifts.
More often than not the people who have been stepping forward to make the difference have been volunteers and I’m particularly proud, but not surprised, at the efforts that the LSE community. LSE can be stressful, particularly during exam season, but students, staff and alumni have stepped up to help and I know that they’ll continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead alongside.
When we refer back to any steps towards equality in history these are always made thanks to the endeavours of volunteers. Look at the Black Lives Matter campaigns that are, rightly, grabbing the headlines at moment. People are stepping forward to organise protests, fundraise for charities, writing articles, providing pro-bono work and taking many other actions to try and end racism in our societies. These things take time, effort and hard work and when change is slower, and more frustrating, than we would like it takes even more dedication.
Volunteers’ Week will be different this year. As I wrote at the start of this blog it will be more sombre and we won’t have the chance to come together like we normally would. However, let’s not let that stop us recognising the importance of volunteers during the good times and bad and simply say, “thank you”.
Volunteers’ Week runs from 1-7 June under the theme of #NeverMoreNeeded. This post originally appeared on the LSE Careers blog.