West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) are proud to be supporting national Volunteers Week which starts Monday 1 June.
WY&H has a thriving voluntary and community sector with thousands of volunteers helping people across Bradford district and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, giving anything from a few minutes a week to hundreds of hours of their time freely every year .
The importance of volunteering in our communities and across the UK has never been clearer. From those offering support to neighbours and friends, to local volunteering with voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations, including in health and care settings, or giving time through national charities or the recently formed NHS Volunteer Responders.
Every person giving their time, skills and commitment to help others is a vital part of the response to the current crisis and all are valued by the WY&H HCP. You don’t need to look far to see the positive difference being made at every level of society when the VCS comes together to lead on initiatives such as the ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign which saw over 40,000 acts of kindness in three months last summer, or more recently the coronavirus pandemic, where the VCS has used their skills to offer vital support to people being shielded at home.
There is a strong history of VCS support across WY&H with volunteers acting as befrienders, running food banks, community cafes or gardens, delivering accessible group activities or events, acting as trustees for charities, to name a few.
This is one of the reasons why WY&H HCP has invested over £2 million of additional transformation resources into the sector in the past two years. This has built on the great work taking place already to reduce the impact of loneliness, to prevent ill health and to tackle health inequalities.
Volunteering has long been acknowledged as part of the wider health and care arena, with WY&H HCP’s Five Year Plan highlighting the important role volunteers play in key areas of work, such as the maternity voice partnerships, social prescribing and health and care champions for people with learning disabilities. Recognising the vital skills they offer and bring is a priority for our plans in the future.
Hilary Thompson, Chief Officer Lead for the WY&H HCP Harnessing the Power of Communities Programme, who has worked in the voluntary sector for fifteen years said:
This Volunteers Week we want to recognise the important work all our volunteers do here in West Yorkshire and Harrogate and say a big thank you to you all. Volunteering is about real, human stories. It is about making a difference for individuals and communities and enriching the lives of volunteers themselves. The impact they make on so many people’s lives at every level is nothing short of amazing.
Rob Webster, CEO Lead for WY&H HCP and CEO for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:
Having personally seen the power of volunteering in the trust, where I am CEO and in my community, I want to thank every volunteer who gives up their skills and time to help others. As we have come together across West Yorkshire and Harrogate to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, each person, each community, each organisation has played its part. Volunteering is an integral part of a strong and resilient society. During this pandemic we have seen a real outbreak of altruism with people helping people right across the area.
WY&H HCP is made up of organisations working closely together to plan services and address the challenges facing health and care services across the area. This includes the NHS, councils, social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations and Healthwatch.