The value of volunteers

A recent personal experience prompted me to think about the valuable work that volunteers do in the community.

I had reason to spend some time at the Churchill Unit at the Royal Bolton Hospital as a family member was undergoing cancer treatment.

The Churchill Unit is run by the team at the hospital, who work with visiting consultants from The Christie to provide care for cancer patients.

In addition to the nurses and consultants, who do a wonderful job, the unit also benefits from a team of volunteers.

They make you welcome as you’re waiting for your appointment and offer refreshments and reassurance during what can be a difficult and upsetting time.

For my family, they were very much appreciated and I began to wonder about how often we recognise people like this unless we have direct contact with them.

In Bolton, we have a very strong community and voluntary sector, with 47,000 volunteers contributing 113,500 volunteering hours each week.

Far from being a ‘hidden army’, volunteers and the voluntary sector are a crucial and valuable component of society.

A few years ago, a Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up between the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in Greater Manchester around informing and involving people in the devolution of health and care across the region.

The agreement recognised the enormous role the voluntary and community sector could play in encouraging people to look after themselves and each other by coming together and being a force for change.

There is a lot of skill, knowledge and willingness out there and we should take time to consider this and be appreciative of our volunteers, and supportive of the voluntary sector.

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