We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

Shining a light - what a week!

National Volunteers Week falls on 1 -7th June every year. It is a chance for charities to thank the many amazing people without whom their organisation would not be able to do what they do.

MVDA decided that this year we would ‘shine a light’ on volunteering by passing round a crocheted Olympic torch, done by a volunteer of course. Each organisation that hosted the torch was putting on a celebration to thank their volunteers for the work they do. We made videos of CEO’s and volunteer managers talking about what their volunteers mean to them and these were broadcast on social media on the day of the visit.

We started on the Friday at Guisborough Bridge Association as they had a team of volunteers over from Mississippi helping at their Camp of Champions, a great example of international volunteering.

On Monday the torch was passed to Homestart which now employs full time, 2 people who started as volunteers. Their thank you involved a hand massage and lots of cake. It then raced off to DePaul where we were joined by Gary Phillipson from BBC Radio Tees. He came with us to an organisation every day and interviewed staff and volunteers. This was then broadcast on his Drive Time show between 4 and 6 each evening. Finally, that day we went to James Cook University Hospital where they have over 500+ volunteers and had a lovely chat to some of them in the Teepee.

Cleveland Fire Support Network organised a litter pick followed by a BBQ despite the rain! Recovery Connections hosted a tea party in Bar Zero with certificates and doughnuts and Thirteen had competitions, an information session and yet more cake.

Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice put on a garden party with Ms Galaxy UK in attendance and we showcased an 89-year-old volunteer who has raised over £50,000 via collecting boxes. There was also more cake. My Sister’s Place invited us to their charity shop to see the work of the volunteers there which also included upcycling furniture items, a great skill to learn. Luckily for the Leonard Cheshire Marske Hall, the rain held off and we had musical theatre and a BBQ. We also had our first canine volunteer in Peapod the therapy dog.

Everyone at Frade was so proud to be a volunteer there that they all offered to be interviewed for the radio. We finished a lovely morning with certificates and a pizza party. The Hope Foundation had set up an Appreciation Station board for staff and volunteers to say thank you. A great local quiz was followed by a buffet.

Our last day was full with us starting at MAP, the Methodist Asylum Project, showcasing the work their volunteers do to help newly arrived residents to learn English. Certificates were presented to the court volunteers from NEPACS next to thank them for the support they give to families at a difficult time. Carers Together had arranged a lovely Caribbean meal at a local restaurant and the torch looked good with the bright décor. Finally, we called it a week at MCLS, Middlesbrough Community Learning Service, with yet more food provided for their dedicated team of volunteers.

All in all, 19 different charities shone the torchlight on their volunteers. Lots of enquiries have come into Radio Tees about the ones showcased and there is a real buzz about the voluntary sector. We better start planning so next year is even bigger and better!

Ruth Barnes


Volunteering Development Officer (Step Forward Tees Valley)