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Give the gift of time this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 21:28 24 November 2019 | UPDATED: 21:28 24 November 2019

Could you volunteer as a carriage host on the North Norfolk Railway’s Santa Special?

Could you volunteer as a carriage host on the North Norfolk Railway's Santa Special?

Archant

Voluntary Norfolk say there's nothing like giving your time to help others enjoy Christmas at this festive time of year

Thetford Conservation Volunteers have a seasonally themed Holly Task on Thursday 19 December at Maine Street Woods, Thetford.Thetford Conservation Volunteers have a seasonally themed Holly Task on Thursday 19 December at Maine Street Woods, Thetford.

The Christmas period 
is an important time for many charities and voluntary groups - some are busy organising fun festive activities for the people they support, many are actively fundraising and for those supporting the homeless, the lonely or people facing financial hardship, Christmas sees a surge in demand for their services. Whatever the nature of their work, there is sure to be a team of volunteers underpinning their activities, with many volunteers recruited with the help of Voluntary Norfolk.

Voluntary Norfolk has been a matchmaking service for volunteers and voluntary organisations since its earliest days in 1969, when it was known as the Norwich Organisation for Active Help, touring the county in a bright red caravan. Today Voluntary Norfolk's matchmaking services are slightly more high-tech with over 2,000 volunteers and 300 charities registering their requirements and availability online, and volunteering opportunities promoted through e-newsletters and social media.

Jess Pratt, volunteering co-ordinator at Voluntary Norfolk said: "Many people don't have the time to volunteer on a regular basis but want to be able to help occasionally. Christmas is the perfect time to do this with lots of charities organising one-off events and needing extra volunteers. From gift wrapping and fundraising to a festive-themed conservation task there's a whole range of opportunities on offer.

"And it is a mutually beneficial arrangement. A recent report from the Mental Health Foundation Doing Good Does you Good noted that volunteering 'benefits people of all ages through increasing feelings of self-esteem, social connection, and wellbeing.'

"Volunteering can be the perfect antidote to the stresses and strains of Christmas' said Jess. "It is a chance to slow down and reconnect with the world around us and our community. For other people, who may be feeling lonely or isolated, volunteering at Christmas is often a great social occasion and a chance to make new friends."

So this Christmas consider giving the gift of time and volunteer for a cause that is close to your heart and is good for you and your local community.

To find volunteering opportunities near you, go to www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk, call 01603 614474 or email volunteercentre@voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

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Some of the Volunteering Opportunities Available this Christmas:

YMCA Street Collection, Norwich

Have you a spare hour or two to volunteer for a street collection in Norwich on Thursday, 12 December to help raise funds for YMCA Norfolk? YMCA Norfolk are a local charity responsible for raising all of their own funds which are used to help vulnerable young people and their families in Norfolk. Their work includes mental health awareness, counselling, positive activities, family work, education as well as supporting the homelessness. If you'd like to help with the street collection, get in touch with judy.bailey@ymcanorfolk.org

The holly and the ivy - although mainly holly!

Thetford Conservation Volunteers have a seasonally themed Holly Task on Thursday 19 December at Maine Street Woods, Thetford. They will be clearing the woods of invasive plants to improve accessibility and to create a wildlife glade. Afterwards volunteers are invited to use their cuttings to make a traditional decorative wreath and grab a cup of Xmas cheer before making their merry way home. To find out more about this or their other hands-on practical conservation tasks throughout the year, get in touch with Mark Webster, Thetford Conservation Volunteers, 07553 388 551, markwebster@thetfordtowncouncil.gov.uk

North Norfolk Railway, Festive Events

The North Norfolk Railway has a range of special events over the Christmas period at Sheringham, Weybourne and Holt. These include Santa Specials, mince pie specials as well as the brand new Norfolk Lights Express. The volunteer role includes acting as carriage host, helping with on board refreshments and looking after your allotted guests ensuring that they have a good time and making sure that they are in the correct place at the right time. To find out more please email volunteers@nnrailway.co.uk or leave a message with the General Office on 01263 820800

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