“We know how lucky we are to have so many wonderful volunteers”

1-7 June is Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Our CEO,  Rachel, says thank you:

For us, Volunteers’ Week is an opportunity to remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have so many wonderful volunteers and to say a huge thank you to every single one.

We have 44 paid staff and around 250 volunteers across our four Support Centres and five shops, so it goes without saying that our volunteers are the lifeblood of Wessex Cancer Support. Every single person that gives up their time to help us is instrumental in supporting local people living with cancer; from helping to run events and working in our shops, to befriending and providing therapies. We’re also supported by a volunteer Board of Trustees who together bring a wealth of business, wellbeing and development expertise. Living with cancer can be incredibly tough. Many of our volunteers have a personal experience of cancer and using our services and so bring an empathy that helps to create the warm and supportive environment we’re so proud of.

Together, our volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of our clients. And in turn they tell us that volunteering is incredibly rewarding – providing opportunities to gain confidence, learn new skills and meet different people. Research shows that volunteering can make us happier and reduce depression. Eye contact and smiling releases the hormone, oxytocin, which helps us handle stress better and because volunteering usually involves being active, we often feel physically fitter, too. And there’s nothing like the warm glow you get from using your own skills and experience to help someone else.

That’s definitely the case for me in one of my volunteering roles as a netball coach. It’s a sport I enjoy hugely and, having three daughters, I was keen to encourage their interest in the sport. As a volunteer coach I get to share my passion and have the privilege of seeing young netballers grow in confidence and ability. I also see the impact being active and part of a team has on their emotional wellbeing, and it was specifically my interest in mental health and wellbeing that brought me to Wessex Cancer Support.

Volunteering is also an opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience that might help you in other areas of your life. Many years ago I was working as a charity fundraiser and keen to gain broader experience of the charity sector and how it works. With my fundraising skills, I secured a role as a Trustee for a children’s cancer charity. It gave me a first-hand experience of charity governance and an invaluable insight to cancer care services which has been beneficial in my role today.

Whatever your motivation for volunteering, we can find a role that suits you. You’ll be joining a brilliant team of dedicated people.

To all our volunteers, Volunteers’ Week is for you. We couldn’t support local people living with cancer as well as we do without you. Thank you.