Volunteering Sam Weller, Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) trustee and Chair of the CCF Grants and Community Impact Committee, talks about the importance of volunteering COMMUNITY GROUPS AND charitable organisations benefit greatly from the input of volunteers. It might be increased resource, time or skills brought to the organisation that add to the overall impact on beneficiaries. However, there is usually a symbiosis in the sense that the volunteer also benefits from the relationship. People volunteer for many different reasons, and even a small commitment can have a lasting effect on an organisation and the people it is set up to benefit. All sorts of people volunteer for many different reasons, but one thing that unites them all is that they find it challenging, rewarding, varied and want to make a difference. At CCF our volunteers make longterm regular commitments, one-off individual contributions or participate in meetings that benefit from their collective experience. We have a team of volunteer visitors who, between them, make visits to all our larger grant recipients. This enables CCF to better understand, and communicate to donors, the impact that a project is
having on the beneficiaries. At the same time, groups benefit from a personal visit that recognises the work they do with their beneficiaries, and helps to create an enhanced partnership with CCF. Some of our volunteers provide, on an ad-hoc basis, specialist skills that their current profession, or past experience, can provide. Another group forms the basis of regular committees or panels that guide the strategic and operational direction of our work. My own volunteering with CCF started nearly nine years ago, after I retired from a technology-based research laboratory on the Cambridge Science Park. Having seen the significant benefit and impact of CCF when looking for charitable and community groups to support through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, I decided this was an organisation that I wanted to support in retirement. I became a trustee, Chair of our Grants Committee, Chair of several panels that approve grants, and coordinator of our Visits Team. We have visitors located across the county, who choose the number of visits to make
each year based on their own interests and availability. I can highly recommend volunteering for a charitable group because it has enabled me to contribute skills learnt and developed over a long business career. It keeps me active, itâ€™s enjoyable, it is a continuous learning experience, and I can add resource to the efforts of CCF to deliver an improved quality of life to people in Cambridgeshire.
A NEW INITIATIVE known to CCF, promoting volunteering to local businesses, Support Cambridgeshire is a new partnership of three trusted community based organisations: Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations, based in Huntingdon; Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service in Cambridge; and Cambridgeshire ACRE in Ely. The partnership has come together under a three-year programme funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, with the express aim of supporting the community and voluntary sector and achieving better outcomes for communities across the county. The partnership wants to ensure that community groups can express, influence, and map their own futures more distinctly. Part of this process is about making groups more business focused and tender-ready. A key theme for this partnership is better engagement with business. We would like businesses to provide bite-sized elements of distinct support as required by community organisations. This support could be through training, face-to-face advice, online, or via the telephone. It could be in organisational development, HR, financial accounting, design or contract management. If you are a local business, and feel you can offer some free time to assist a community organisation, either through training, face-to-face, or online or telephone support, then please contact email@example.com in the first instance. Support Cambridgeshire has compiled a business offer that can be viewed at: www.supportcambridgeshire.org.uk/volunteering/businesses/
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THE FORUM / Apr-Jun 2017 / 13
The magazine of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.