MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN 2017 CAMPAIGN: Dedicated volunteers are vital to Norfolk’s charities

Home-Start Norwich volunteers from the north Norfolk area. Picture: Home-Start Norwich

Home-Start Norwich volunteers from the north Norfolk area. Picture: Home-Start Norwich - Credit: SENT IN BY HOME-START NORWICH

Volunteers are becoming increasingly important for vital charity services amid funding cuts.

Adults and children enjoying a playdough activity via a Home-Start Norwich volunteer project. Pictur

Adults and children enjoying a playdough activity via a Home-Start Norwich volunteer project. Picture: SENT IN BY HOME-START NORWICH - Credit: SENT IN BY HOME-START NORWICH

That is the claim from one charity leader who is backing the Voluntary Norfolk Make A Difference in 2017 campaign, supported by the EDP.

The appeal was launched with the ambition of encouraging more people to take up volunteering.

Claire Reynolds, director of corporate services for the Norfolk and Suffolk-based Benjamin Foundation, said: 'Volunteers are crucial to the work we do. The volunteers are the ones that make the service that extra bit more special, particularly in the current climate of services being reduced. The volunteers make sure we can help others.'

The Benjamin Foundation supports 2,000 people a year who face a variety of problems from homelessness to strengthening relationships between parents and children.

She said the charity costs between £5m and £6m a year to run.

'The campaign is great. Volunteering is a hot topic and the appeal encourages people with a variety of motivations to help people as well as get new skills,' Mrs Reynolds added.

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Helen Brown, funding and projects co-ordinator for Home-Start Norfolk which provides parental help to struggling families, said the charity was hoping to attract more fundraising volunteers.

Mrs Brown said funding from Norfolk County Council was due to end in April this year.

Marie Curie volunteer Clive Evans, 57, collecting for the charity's Big Daffodil Appeal. Picture: SE

Marie Curie volunteer Clive Evans, 57, collecting for the charity's Big Daffodil Appeal. Picture: SENT IN BY MARIE CURIE - Credit: SENT IN BY MARIE CURIE

Running costs for the charity, which started in 2000, came to £150,000 last year.

Home-Start Norwich is currently sourcing more funding.

Mrs Brown said: 'We are always on the lookout for volunteers.'

Hugo Stevenson, Marie Curie community fundraiser for Norfolk, said: 'The activities of our volunteers are the mainstay for our fundraising activities.

'There are so many wonderful organisations that help different people in Norfolk. Volunteers can see the tangible effects in their community. They get a sense of achievement.'

He said it was good for young people to get involved with volunteering as it allowed them to 'see the world in a new light'.

Andrew Morter, head of volunteering at Voluntary Norfolk, said: 'Volunteering is something that can work around your time commitments, interests and skills and there is so much to choose from.'

The charity is holding a string of drop-in sessions about volunteering opportunities.

Volunteer Connor Davison, 17, helping an 82-year-old Blakeney woman called Lillian, through the Benj

Volunteer Connor Davison, 17, helping an 82-year-old Blakeney woman called Lillian, through the Benjamin Foundation's handyman scheme Ben's Workforce. Picture: CHRIS TAYLOR - Credit: CHRIS TAYLOR

For more information and to see the roles available, visit

Are you a volunteer or a charity which needs more volunteers? Email


A charity boss has praised the efforts of dedicated volunteers who ensure good quality end of life care for people suffering from terminal illnesses.

Marie Curie provides palliative nursing care for individuals suffering with serious conditions including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, motor neurone disease and Parkinson's disease in their homes.

There are 33 Marie Curie nurses in Norfolk who provided nearly 30,000 hours of care in the county last year. Each hour costs £20.

The charity has more than 120 volunteers in Norfolk who raise funds by collecting donations which go towards research as well as a free telephone line which supports patients and relatives.

A massive £4.7m goes into looking at how Marie Curie nurses can deliver the best end of life care each year nationally.

Volunteers also raise awareness of the charity by giving talks to community groups or arranging big fundraisers, encouraging others to get involved.

Hugo Stevenson (pictured), Marie Curie community fundraiser for Norfolk, said: 'We want to make sure someone who is in their last stages of life can be spent with their loved ones in the comfort of their own home while being supported by nurses.

'We do rely on the volunteers because they are the ones in the community raising money which broadens our reach. The more volunteers we have, the better our reach.'

Mr Stevenson added their 'vital' volunteers were inspired by the stories from families whose loved ones were helped by Marie Curie nurses.

Norwich volunteer Clive Evans, 57, who started collecting for Marie Curie six years ago after his wife became a nurse for the organisation, said: 'It is my hope that by raising money for the charity then many people can be supported.'

Nationally Marie Curie volunteers raise £25.1m.

There are regular collections on high streets, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses all over Norfolk, especially during the charity's Great Daffodil Appeal in the spring.

This year, the appeal is aiming to raise £2.2m.

To get involved in volunteering call Mr Stevenson on 07920 235435 or email

To contact the free Marie Curie support line call 0800 0902309.



Hundreds of struggling parents are getting one-to-one support and a confidence boost from hard-working volunteers.

Home-Start Norwich provides help to parents of children under five in Norwich and north Norfolk who face a variety of problems. They have 60 volunteers.

Helen Brown, funding and projects co-ordinator said: 'We support families who are struggling to cope and need an extra pair of hands.'

Issues include mothers facing mental health problems and post-natal depression; disability concerns; financial worries; rural isolation; and domestic abuse issues.

Volunteers have to be parents and they work with one family for a year, providing three hours of dedicated support a week.

This can include taking parents and children to medical appointments or community groups where they can meet other families, provide financial advice or promote healthy, social lifestyles.

Mrs Brown, who is also a volunteer, added: 'The service allows someone to get out of the house as well as providing moral support.

'It is a really nice and worthwhile thing to do as a volunteer. You can get a lot out of it.

'I enjoy doing it because I enjoy working with young children and like to see families progress and build in confidence. You can see a family blossom.

'The volunteers look forward to building friendships. It is very rewarding.

'The help provided in the early years for children helps stem problems that might happen in later life.'

She said volunteers were fully trained in skills including child development, mental health first aid, money management.

The next free nine week training session for volunteers is happening at Drayton Children's Centre on School Road, on Thursday, February 23, from 9.30am-2.30pm.

Mrs Brown added volunteers come from 'different walks of life' and some use it to get back into work after having children, to get into the health and care industry or to boost their CV.

To get involved as a volunteer contact 01603 616400 or visit


Volunteer power has provided 'life-changing' help for isolated elderly people through a charity handyman enterprise.

The Benjamin Foundation, which helps children, adults and families across Norfolk and Suffolk facing a range of difficulties, set up Ben's Workforce 18 months ago.

Based in Sheringham, its team of volunteers do a variety of jobs for people aged 65 and over in north Norfolk.

These jobs include putting up shelves, assembling furniture, fitting access ramps, moving heavy furniture and gardening.

Volunteers are aged 17 to 70 and do not need particular skills – only an enthusiasm to help others.

Claire Reynolds, director of corporate services for the Benjamin Foundation, said: 'We are trying to build our team of volunteers to expand on the range of services we offer. We like to think the work we are doing allows people to stay safe in their homes.

'For some people, the help from Ben's Workforce is life-changing. A lot of people we work with have not seen anyone that day until a handyman turns up.'

She added one wheelchair-bound woman was given the freedom to leave her home after a volunteer fitted a


Another Ben's Workforce member fixed a light bulb which had broken and was causing the homeowner distress.

As well as completing jobs around people's homes and gardens the volunteers, who are fully trained, carry out home checks and can signpost people to other charities or organisations for further support.

Mrs Reynolds added: 'The volunteers get involved for a range of reasons but most of them like getting out and about talking to people and seeing they are making a difference to people's lives.'

The Benjamin Foundation was started in Norfolk in 1994 and helps people for a range of problems including homelessness, financial problems and finding affordable childcare.

Other voluntary roles in the charity include helping out in one of its three secondhand furniture stores in Holt, Dereham and Norwich, called Restore.

To get involved in Ben's Workforce call 01263 826854 or email

Volunteers need to be aged 16 or over. Alternatively visit

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