Volunteers can make a difference.
Taking place this week, the national celebration aims to promote innovative ways to thank, recruit and involve volunteers and raises the profile of the work of the UK's 22 million volunteers.
There are lots of organisations throughout the North East in desperate need of volunteers.
The Newcastle Society for Blind People has been caring for visually-impaired and blind people of all ages in the city since 1867. It aims to help them by increasing their independence, extending choice, promoting privacy and dignity and raising public awareness.
Advocacy in Gateshead and South Tyneside is an independent organisation that supports adults of any age with a learning disability.
Advocacy is when a person speaks up for themselves or others, and is about supporting people to express their needs, opinions and choices.
It offers accredited training and continuous support for its volunteers.
Volunteer co-ordinators from across Durham City and Chester-le-Street have been working together to launch a directory of local volunteering vacancies.
Copies can be obtained free from Durham Volunteer Bureau (0191) 383 1944 or the Chester-le-Street Volunteer Bureau (0191) 3892947.
This Friday a Volunteers' Fair will be held in Durham City market place, where potential volunteers can meet local voluntary organisations. There will be entertainment throughout the day, including jazz and face-painting .
VODA's Volunteering Team is always developing opportunities for people in North Tyneside to take up volunteering. From befriending to web design, sports coaching to fundraising, it aims to find something to suit everyone.
As well as providing a general volunteer bureau-style service, it also runs a Millennium Volunteers Project for people aged 16-24. It also offers volunteering opportunities for people who have experienced mental health problems.
AGE Concern Gateshead has been providing a wide range of services for older people throughout Gateshead for more than 30 years. It could not run any of these services without the help of its team of 150 volunteers but it always needs more.
Its volunteers really make a difference to older people's lives by providing companionship to frail and isolated people, assisting on outings, providing information and advice and advocacy or helping out in charity shop to raise vital funds.
In return for their time and hard work the charity provides its volunteers with travel expenses, training and social opportunities.
Picture this scenario: Kate just called and she does not know where to turn to for help. Her teenage daughter has threatened to run away again, and has started to hang out with a bad crowd. She has stopped going to school and Kate saw her with a much older boy last week. Kate says she had it out with her daughter and it nearly came to blows. She used to have such a good relationship with her. They used to go out shopping and chat all the time but it is all different now. Kate is struggling and does not know what to do next.
She feels so alone and has not got anyone to turn to. Her only hope of support is a confidential helpline where she does not have to give her name.
They will listen to her, be there for her when she needs to talk, will not judge her or tell her what to do. They will come up with a few ideas, but most importantly they will support her to have the strength to do what she needs to do (when she's ready.
There are lots more Kates out there, with different stories to tell. The trouble is, there are not nearly enough people to answer the phone when the calls come in.
At the Newcastle branch of Parentline Plus, there are 30 volunteers. They all have parenting experience and have completed a training course to equip them with the necessary skills to help parents like Kate.
The volunteers give four hours a week of their time to the helpline.
Issues range from divorce and separation to problems with a child's school. This, combined with the every day demands of parenting, can leave parents feeling depressed and isolated.
For many of these parents the support that Parentline Plus offers is a lifeline.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Jun 2, 2004|
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