‘The impact volunteers make on people and charities should not be underestimated’

Posted on the 2nd June 2022

I work for Kent Coast Volunteering (KCV), which matches people interested in volunteering with volunteering opportunities. People choose to volunteer for all different reasons – feeling useful and giving something back are two of them. It might be a career change, to gain new skills, to meet people or get involved in the community. Regardless of the reasons, the impact volunteers make to people and charities should not be underestimated.

Supporting people into volunteering

I recently supported Mary to volunteer locally. Mary was at a loose end and wanted to feel useful. She was a volunteer dog walker but this had recently ended as the dog grew old and a second volunteering role had ground to a halt during the pandemic. Keen to help during the pandemic, Mary approached a foodbank but heard nothing back. The dog owning friend of Mary left a message on our answerphone asking us to give Mary a call.

Mary and I met, and it was clear that her face lit up when she talked about books. So I called a charity bookshop and the manager invited her for interview. Mary started volunteering the next day! She was delighted.

At KCV we get to hear first-hand the difference volunteers make. As well as matching people to roles with other charities, we run a Good Neighbours Service (GNS), where volunteers visit isolated people aged over 65, and a Community Transport Service, taking people mainly to essential medical appointments.

Our GNS volunteers clock up an incredible 8,781 hours of volunteering a year and receive some lovely comments.

Quotes from Kent Coast Volunteer volunteers

The many benefits of volunteering

And equally there are benefits for the volunteer. Christine, now a member of staff with the Good Neighbours Service (GNS), talked to me about what volunteering meant for her.

Kent Coastal Volunteering volunteers

'It may not have changed my life, but it certainly enhanced my life - seeing how much we could do for older people and to see their faces smile when you leave. To see them happy and have a befriender that lasts for years - it’s worth everything.'

Christine, Kent Coastal Volunteering Good Neighbour Service volunteer

Kent Coastal Volunteering volunteers

Recently I was at an event promoting volunteering and bumped into Ken (pictured above), who has been a volunteer driver with KCV for seven years. He reminded me that I had recruited him, and it was such a pleasure to see the results of a match.

He was walking around the event with transport member Pat. If it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a local community event. She even won at the KCV tombola and was delighted!

Kent Coastal Volunteering volunteer

Peter (pictured above) is also a volunteer driver and shared with me why he joined the service and what it means to him. After he retired early Ken decided to look for a ‘hobby job’ to fill his time. At first he was a part-time driver for three years for a supermarket and dental laboratory. However, the work wasn’t particularly challenging or satisfying and he was on a minimum wage. Ken decided there must be a better way to occupy himself and reached out to KCV.

'From what I’d read about volunteering it seemed to be spiritually more rewarding - and it proved to be the case. I’ve done it for three years now and have made several good friends among my clients. It gives me enormous satisfaction to know I have helped someone to see their doctor or attend hospital when they might have otherwise struggled or even missed their appointment.'

Peter, Kent Coastal Volunteering Community Transport Service volunteer

Benefits of volunteering are many, but include increased confidence and boosted happiness, health and wellbeing.

I am currently volunteering myself as a mentor and at a youth club for Young Lives Foundation, and also in a school as a reading helper for two children with charity Coram Beanstalk. I can honestly say that volunteering is one of the highlights of my week.

I get to do things I wouldn’t normally do and see a bit of the world from a young person’s perspective. I generally find my volunteering a joyful experience and I am glad to help in any way I can. I can only hope that they get as much from it as I do.

If you live in Thanet, Folkestone or Dover and you are you interested in volunteering, please contact me and the KCV team at volunteering@kcv.org.uk or search our opportunities. Live in Kent? Contact Kent Volunteer Partnership.

Emma Cooney

Project Management Officer at Kent Coast Volunteering

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