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Building new connections through volunteering

PUBLISHED: 08:30 08 May 2020

Bounce and Rhyme volunteers are still helping deliver song and story sessions for children through the Norfolk Library and Information Service   Picture: Norfolk County Council

Bounce and Rhyme volunteers are still helping deliver song and story sessions for children through the Norfolk Library and Information Service Picture: Norfolk County Council

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Norfolk County Council’s In Good Company campaign has been shining a spotlight on things that might help you feel less alone during the coronavirus lockdown. Here we look at volunteering as a great way to reach out to those in need and make friends in the process.

Norfolk County Council has relaunched its In Good Company campaign to help people stay connected through the coronavirus crisisNorfolk County Council has relaunched its In Good Company campaign to help people stay connected through the coronavirus crisis

In Good Company is all about bringing people together and combatting loneliness. We have seen how Norfolk’s libraries and museums, and wider communities are helping to create connections, but one of the critical ways that people can build new connections is through volunteering.

Norfolk Library and Information Service is supported by volunteers in a wide range of roles, and new volunteers join for many different reasons. Sharing your interests and skills with others can be a way to help build new networks, meet new people and feel a valued part of the local community.

Of course, there are numerous other groups which involve volunteers, but they all have one thing in common: bringing people together around a shared interest. While physically bringing people together isn’t possible at the moment, the Norfolk Library Service is continuing to look at ways in which it can support local communities and offer opportunities which help reduce social isolation.

Even in these times, volunteers are continuing to support activities, although they may be delivered in a slightly different way for the time being!

Nigel St Quintin has swapped his volunteer role to deliver food to frontline NHS staff  Picture: Norfolk County CouncilNigel St Quintin has swapped his volunteer role to deliver food to frontline NHS staff Picture: Norfolk County Council

Alan Hopley, CEO of Voluntary Norfolk, said: “Volunteering has always been a great way to reduce loneliness as it helps us connect with others and gives us a real sense of purpose. There are lots of volunteering roles that people can still do during Covid-19 that support people who are isolated or which benefit the wider community, so it can be a really positive experience for the volunteer and those they are helping.”

So, how can you get involved and bring your community closer?

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with the library service or wish to register an interest in helping in future when libraries reopen, please email volunteercontact@norfolk.gov.uk with your details.

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Voluntary Norfolk needs volunteers more than ever to support the response to Covid-19 and to keep essential voluntary sector services going. 
Check out the website at www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk for more information.

Volunteer hero Nigel finds new role feeding frontline hospital staff

Every Friday, volunteer Nigel St Quintin delivers free meals and snacks to NHS workers in north Norfolk, provided by the Holkham Estate as part of its Helping Hands for Hungry Heroes programme.

The programme, which depends on the generosity of many local suppliers as well as the Holkham team, has already provided more than 3,000 free meals to staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn. It is now expanding its service to include frontline NHS workers elsewhere in north Norfolk, delivering a selection of soups, snacks and ready-prepared meals which the NHS staff can either eat on shift or take home.

Volunteer Nigel picks up the food and delivers it to Pineheath Ward at Kelling Hospital, the Simpson Centre at Kelling Hospital and Fakenham Medical Centre.

Before Covid-19 Nigel was a volunteer driver for the ERS Patient Transport service, taking cancer and dialysis patients to and from hospital for regular treatments. He was volunteering three or four days a week and provided a friendly, reassuring service to people, making their hospital experience a little more bearable.

He is a popular driver with the patients, and it is a role he really enjoys, so when this role was paused, due to social distancing requirements, he was “completely lost”.

Voluntary Norfolk, which co-ordinates the volunteers for ERS Patient Transport is, in response to Covid-19, recruiting thousands of new volunteers and redeploying existing volunteers where possible, so when volunteer coordinator Ian Whiting became aware of Holkham’s food delivery programme, he knew Nigel was the right man for the role. 

“Nigel finds a real sense of purpose in volunteering and loves helping other people and making connections in his community, so we were really pleased he was able to take on this new role,” said Ian.


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