As Wales considers the future of lockdown, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt has praised Wales’ volunteers, and urged others to get involved as their services will be needed more than ever in the months to come.
The call comes after more than 360 people came forward to help Carmarthenshire County Council set up furniture and equipment at the county’s four field hospitals. This was just 24 hours after the appeal for volunteers went live through the Carmarthenshire Association of Volunteering Services (CAVS) Volunteering Wales website and the connect2carmarthenshire.org.uk platform.
Connect2Carmarthenshire, has been established to connect people offering help to those who need it, as part of SirGâredig – Sharing Carmarthenshire’s Kindness campaign.
Volunteering in Wales is happening on every scale. At a national level, over 30,000 people are signed up on the Volunteering Wales website, an additional 16,000 since March 1st, and on a regional, local and hyperlocal level, thousands more are supporting their towns, villages and voluntary organisations within their own communities.
As a result, Wales is steadily building up a bank of volunteers who can continue to support people through and after lockdown.
Wales’ large older population, and geography with its mix of smaller close-knit communities, alongside a high number of densely populated areas, has crafted a distinctly Welsh approach to volunteering – one that focuses on local needs and infrastructure.
Wales will need this bank of volunteers, ready to help at a local, regional and national level, more than ever in the months to come, particularly as people who have been volunteering while on furlough, return to work.
The Deputy Minister, Jane Hutt, said:
“I am amazed and inspired by the generosity shown by people in Wales.
“I want to say thank you to the thousands of fantastic volunteers who have already signed up to support their communities and third sector organisations. As time goes by and the demographic of need changes you will be in demand more than ever. Don’t worry if you haven’t found a role or if you’ve registered and haven’t been contacted yet – you are needed and wanted.
“As we’ve seen in Carmarthenshire, all across Wales in every county there has been a fantastic response to the call to action. I’ve heard numerous success stories from across the country where volunteers are making a huge difference to the wellbeing of their communities. Local people have the best knowledge of neighbourhoods and the local infrastructure available, so they have the best understanding of local needs.
“If you haven’t signed up to volunteer yet, please do. Your support is making a huge difference to Wales’ response to Covid-19, and as more people start to return to work, you’ll be needed more than ever. Every single volunteer is valued and appreciated. Please continue to offer your services in whatever way suits you best – just be sure to keep yourself and others safe.”
Carmarthenshire Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said:
“It is wonderful to see so many people volunteering to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are very grateful to each and every person that has offered to help us set up these vital field hospitals for the NHS; I really am moved by the community sprit being shown by residents.
“This is what SirGâredig is all about, helping each other and being kind, particularly in times of trouble.”
Ruth Marks WCVA Chief Executive said:
“As we’ve seen in Carmarthenshire and throughout the whole of Wales, there has been a tremendous response to calls for volunteers and our message, as we look ahead to life after lockdown, is please keep coming forward to volunteer.
“You may not hear back immediately after you register, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be needed. In the months ahead when people do start going back to work, the need for volunteers will be greater than ever and so it’s essential that there are people who can be called upon as, when and where there is demand.
“There are lots of ways people can volunteer. We’re still inviting people to register at Volunteering Wales, and these people will be matched with voluntary organisations and local service providers who need those volunteers’ skills..”
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said:
“We have been incredibly inspired by the willingness of so many people to put their hands up to help in this crisis, and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to them all. Volunteers will be key to help local authorities and dedicated staff to respond to local needs when they arise, as the demand is certain to increase even more in the challenging months ahead.”