VANEL’s Volunteer Recruitment Fair and Blue Lights Brigade Launch

Voluntary Action’s Volunteer Manager’s Network chose to celebrate this year’s National Volunteer’s Week by holding a Volunteer Recruitment Fair in People’s Park. The fair, which took place at the Floral Hall on Friday 2nd June, included stalls from local organisations hoping to recruit volunteers and served as the launch of the exciting Big Lottery funded ‘Blue Lights Brigade’ programme.

Representatives from YMCA Humber, Counting Hope, Dementia Awareness NEL and many others, turned out to promote the work that they do and the volunteer opportunities they have available. For once the weather was on our side, and large numbers of people frequenting the park for no other reason than to enjoy the sunshine, stopped by the Floral Hall to find out what was happening.

June Smallwood, a volunteer representing Dementia Awareness NEL, explained her role and why she became a volunteer: “As a volunteer with Dementia Awareness we provide help and support to people who suffer from dementia, as well as their friends and families. We have a variety of information leaflets and brochures on dementia and volunteering which we share with members of the public whenever we hold stalls or events. We go out into the community and talk to people about dementia, and have people working with the organisation who are experts on the condition. I became a volunteer after the death of my husband from dementia. There are lots of different opportunities available and I very much enjoy being a volunteer with Dementia Awareness”.

Pictured L -R: VANEL’s Volunteer Development Manager Jacky Birkett and Volunteer Centre Advisor Liz Dugard holding a stall at the Volunteer Recruitment Fair. Stalls from organisations hoping to recruit volunteers at the event.

Diana Award Holder and founder of Counting Hope, Andy Green, shared a similar sentiment saying: “Today’s event has been really good, and we are glad that we came down. Like all of the organisations here we have lots of exciting volunteer opportunities available. You can work behind the scenes by helping us to create content for our website and social media pages, or volunteer on the frontline as part of our outreach team or by helping us to organise and set up events. If anyone feels that they could bring something more to Counting Hope as a volunteer we would encourage them to get in touch”.

VANEL’s Volunteer Development Manager Jacky Birkett said “We’re really thrilled to see lots of people visiting us at the Volunteer Recruitment Fair here today. We’ve got so many organisations offering all kinds of volunteer roles so we are really hoping that we can encourage a lot more people to become volunteers as a result of today’s event.  The organisations that I have spoken to think that the fair has been a great success and we would definitely like to do it again, either annually or perhaps even biannually”.

In addition to recruiting volunteers, the Volunteer Recruitment Fair served as the launch of VANEL’s latest funding success, The Blue Lights Brigade. Despiting launching earlier in the month, news of the programme, which is funded by the National Lottery’s Awards for all fund, was embargoed until the 14th June. The Blue Lights Brigade, when up and running, will be comprised of a dozen retired or soon-to-retire police officers who will work to support local community safety partners and services on a voluntary basis.  The rationale behind the programme is to recognise that the knowledge and experience acquired by police officers over the course of their careers doesn’t just disappear when they retire. And whilst there will be police officers who are more than happy to let the public service part of their life come to a close when they retire, there may be others who wish to continue to serve their community by becoming a volunteer with The Blue Lights Brigade.

Pictured Above L -R: VANEL’s Community Cohesion Officer Steve Lynn and Chair of  Marshall Avenue and Little Michael Street Neighbourhood Watch Glyn Atkinson at the launch of the Blue Lights Brigade.

As well as helping to support public services, the programme aims to support the physical and mental wellbeing of the volunteers themselves. VANEL’s Community Cohesion Officer Steve Lynn said: “When you leave an organisation after working there for a long time, it can be like losing part of your identity. You don’t see your friends, the people you worked with every day, as much anymore, and because everyone is so busy, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep in touch – especially if you’re not a user of social media. The Blue Lights Brigade programme is a great opportunity for retired police officers like me, to meet new people and invest their skills back in to the community on a voluntary basis”.

Paula Grant, VANEL Chief Officer said: “We are delighted to have secured Big Lottery Fund monies to invest in a professional development programme of direct benefit to voluntary groups and wider communities we support. This will give us an excellent opportunity to build even stronger working relationships with both volunteers and voluntary groups that we support across our area”.

To read VANEL’s official Blue Lights Brigade press release, click here.

For more information about the Blue Lights Brigade, or to get involved please contact VANEL’s Community Cohestion Officer Steve Lynn Email Steve@vanel.org.uk, or telephone 01472 240707 and ask to speak to Steve Lynn or Paula Grant.

Our information page about Blue Lights Brigade is www.vanel.org.uk/blb