Community heroes who dedicate their time and skills to volunteering are to be celebrated in a new awards scheme.
The Excellence in Volunteering Awards Folkestone and Hythe District is calling for nominations for people doing good work in the area.
The scheme run by Kent Coast Volunteering on behalf of Folkestone & Hythe District Council aims to raise the profile of volunteering and its benefits at a time when a national shortage of volunteers is making it difficult for charities and community groups to deliver their services.
There are five award categories – individual volunteer, volunteer group, youth volunteer, trustee and corporate volunteer. The latter category is someone sponsored by a business to volunteer for a charity or community group.
A Folkestone & Hythe District Council spokesperson said: “For many volunteers the satisfaction of making a difference to others' lives is reward enough but these awards will shine a spotlight on a few of those whose contribution deserves particular recognition.
“We hope the awards will also encourage others to consider following our winners' lead, especially when they hear just how much volunteers gain from the experience.”
Volunteering is widely seen as a way for people to give back to their community. Not only in times of crisis, but all year round. Whether it’s packing parcels at a food bank, providing care in the community, lifeguarding at the pool or leading community groups at the local church, there are many opportunities to help out.
However, the latest Community Life Survey found the proportion of the UK population who had volunteered at least once a month in 2021/22 was 16%. This was down from about 23% in 2019/20, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer groups across the Folkestone and Hythe district say participation has not fully recovered since then.
Emma Cooney, Charity Manager at Kent Coast Volunteering (KCV), which helps people find volunteering opportunities, said: “We love this opportunity provided by Folkestone & Hythe District Council to celebrate people volunteering in our community.”
She added there was plenty of anecdotal evidence volunteering was good for your health, happiness and wellbeing – if you find the right fit.
Other benefits include enjoyment, experience for your CV, learning additional skills, meeting new people, contributing to a charity or cause you believe in, being part of something bigger than yourself and finding a sense of personal achievement.
Information on how to enter can be found on the KCV website.
The deadline for nominations is Monday 22 April 2024, with shortlisting will taking place 22 – 26 April 2024. The awards will take be presented at The Quarterhouse in Folkestone on Thursday 6 June 2024.
You can also contact Mark Connorton, Volunteer Connector Folkestone and Hythe District, about the awards or volunteering in general at email@example.com, 07817040451 or call 01304 367898 and leave a message.