Where Are we?
How many times have you walked past the Uckfield Volunteer Centre without really noticing that it’s there? Or maybe you think it’s only for the retired with plenty of time for volunteering on their hands?
I decided to spend a morning with them to see what really goes on and was amazed at the wealth of information and services they have to offer – it’s a real gem of a place!
I was genuinely surprised at the breadth of information and knowledge of the staff, available to people of all ages and from all walks of life and all of it provided by volunteers. There are no paid staff here – just people wanting to help their community and make a difference.
The centre opens at 10am when the first volunteers open up and put out the display boards, before checking the answerphone and starting to trawl through the myriad of emails. A large part of their time is spent chasing organisations and volunteers who have applied through the Do-It website. www.do-it.org was set up as a database to match potential volunteers with suitable vacancies and is an essential tool for the centre. Whether you are a charity looking for people to join your team, or someone wanting to give something back to the community or looking to learn new, transferable skills, then the Do-It website is the perfect way to register your interest and make those all important connections.
By now, the centre is starting to get busy as emails are answered, the printer springs to life printing off posters of events for display and the phone is ringing. The lovely volunteers are kind, approachable and efficient as they answer a variety of queries and signpost people to different organisations best suited to help the individual.
Bookings are also coming in for their Community Lunch, available to anyone who is a member of the centre. I had no idea that you could be a member so I spoke to Liz to find out more.
Being a member simply means that you pay an annual subscription fee which helps to fund the centre. Businesses can join for £50 per year, Charities for £25 and individuals for £12. In exchange members receive 3 networking dinners per year, reduced prices on photocopies and laminating, and for charities, the opportunity to have a window display dedicated to them. What a wonderful way to help the centre and our community whilst networking your business!
The centre is also used as a base for other agencies, including Family Support Worker, Michelle Smart who offers professional services which are free, confidential and independent to families, parents and carers, whatever their circumstances. You can also contact them via their website www.familysupportwork.org.uk.
Joel Scott from the Red Cross can usually be found in the centre on a Tuesday and would love to talk to you about what the Red Cross has to offer and volunteering opportunities. More information can be found at email@example.com.
Carl from 3VA is the person to speak to you if you are looking for support for your voluntary or community organisation and can help with funding advice, governance, training and much more. Look them up on www.3va.org.uk
A busy morning has flown by with barely the chance to stop for a cup of tea! The footfall of the centre has grown rapidly in the past year but did you know that they can also give you information on local attractions, benefits, bus timetables, community transport, health, families, charities and many more? They also offer hearing aid maintenance and batteries. They really are your one stop shop!
Why not pop in and say hello next time you’re passing? There’s bound to be something to interest you!
Many thanks to Carol Gordon, our new Volunteer Blogger for writing this article. We look forward to many more!
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Call 01825 760019 or email uckfieldvolunteer.org.uk for more info.