This week hundreds of events and celebrations are taking place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK. The campaign was established in 1984 by Volunteering England, which merged with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in 2013 who now leads this UK-wide campaign. Did you know that:
- In 2015, volunteering contributed more than £22.bn to the UK economy. This is about 1.2% of GDP.
- In 2016/17, 19.8 million (37%) people in the UK volunteered formally at least once a year and 11.9 million (22%) of people did so at least once a month.
- There are 165,801 voluntary organisations in the UK, many of whom rely on volunteers.
Figures are taken from www.volunteersweek.org, where you can also find out more information about events and activities that are taking place this week.
At Open Country we have over 100 incredible volunteers who contributed over 8,000 hours of free time last year, without which we would be unable to carry out our work. Our volunteers help out in a number of ways; guiding visually impaired members, or wheelchair users on countryside activities, piloting tandems, maintaining our fleet of cycles, baking cakes for coffee mornings and helping with office admin, to name but a few of the many things they do for us.
Jo Amess, one of our Wakefield Tandem volunteers has recently been recognised for her contribution to volunteering and cycling by the #cyclingsaysthanks campaign run by British Cycling. She says about volunteering with Open Country:
“I had never ridden a tandem until being introduced to Open Country… When you are tandeming along a country lane with someone on the back whooping and cheering through sheer excitement from being on the bike, when you have the joyful sounds from another as he serenades you from the rear and when someone else tells you he wants to buy his own tandem as he loves it so much, you can’t buy that feeling of wellbeing and the warm glow and sweat satisfaction you receive from being a volunteer.”
And yes, she does mean ‘sweat’, many of our tandem riders will be able to identify with that!
Well done to Jo and well done to all our wonderful volunteers who make Open Country the thriving and vibrant organisation it is today, we hope you have as much fun as we do and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!