Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic millions of volunteers throughout the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity. Darrell Xavier, Operations Manager for Richmond Hill Elderly Action (RHEA), a Leeds Neighbourhood Network, celebrates a long-standing volunteer scheme which has helped RHEA and their members.
“The end of 2017 marked an important milestone for Richmond Hill Elderly Action (RHEA) and staff from the Department for Work & Pensions; a huge 10 years of DWP staff volunteering with RHEA at their events.
Back in 2007, a team from the DWP came forward looking to organise a large scale event for RHEA’s members as part of their new volunteering initiative, Community 10,000. The aim of this new incentive was to give 10,000 volunteering days to local community groups, charities and good causes.
After an initial meeting, DWP staff set about fund raising to source the necessary equipment to hold an afternoon where people could create their own planter to decorate their garden or home and then enjoy lunch. These planters were so big and bursting with flowers that they had to be loaded onto a minibus at the end of the day, to be delivered to individual’s addresses.
This was the start of a fantastic relationship and since then, DWP staff have come from across the region to support RHEA. From RHEA’s Annual General Meeting to celebratory events, dances, brunches, days out and much more, volunteers rush forward to help on the day and nothing is too much for them. This not only shows the dedication of the DWP to support the community, it also means RHEA can host much larger events because of the support. Over 60 large scale events have been put on over the last 10 years with nearly 300 volunteers giving their time and skills.
Jackie Hogarth is the Volunteer Manager for Yorkshire & Humberside and promotes RHEA and its events, and arranges for volunteers to help. Jackie says: “Community 10,000 is the DWP employer-supported volunteer scheme and is for DWP staff who want to know more about our customers, learn how to support them better, make a difference on behalf of charities, voluntary organisations, or community projects or get involved in volunteering.
Since the launch of Community 10,000 a staggering 65,000 plus volunteer days have been completed.
Jackie says “Our volunteers get involved in a variety of activities, a few examples of which are mock interview programmes in schools and colleges, helping at events, working with vulnerable groups in society, and practical tasks such as gardening and painting.
Community 10,000 first linked up with RHEA back in 2007 and, since then, hundreds of volunteers have helped at various celebratory events, on day trips, and at last year’s AGM.”
It has been an absolute pleasure working with the RHEA team to ensure that they have the volunteer help they need. The relationship that has developed is a truly valuable one for the DWP and our staff; many of whom volunteer time and time again. Long may it continue!”
Darrell Xavier, Operations Manager for RHEA, says: “The support from the DWP enables us to do so much more and every time we’re planning an event, volunteers snap up the opportunity and really get involved. I’d highly recommend the Community 10,000 scheme as a way to increase your capacity with the support of some genuinely nice people who turn up ready to help and enjoy being a part of a good cause.”
If you are interested in getting involved with Community 10,000, you can Jackie at the DWP on 0191 451 3254 / 07342 289312 / JACKIE.HOGARTH@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK or Darrell at RHEA on 0113 248 5200.