3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Essex Life today click here

Braintree’s army of volunteers doing their bit to improve social wellbeing

PUBLISHED: 17:32 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 25 May 2018

Volunteers Awards 2016

Volunteers Awards 2016

Archant

The benefits of social wellbeing and community spirit are manifested best through volunteering, and Braintree is a hotbed of helpers, discovers Petra Hornsby

It was Franklin D Roosevelt who famously said: “We must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together and work together.”

It may not be a sentiment you would hear from the current US president, but it certainly has the ring of truth and within our own communities in Essex, people have been applying this altruistic philosophy by volunteering their time and their skills to help those in need for many years.

And the evidence is that this strengthens a sense of well-being – not just for those in receipt of their support, but for the volunteers too.

In 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow produced his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs where he suggested that, after physical safety, what humans need most is “emotional belonging”. And volunteering is one of the best ways to create strong social and emotional bonds.

Braintree volunteersBraintree volunteers

Jon Rees is the advice and guidance officer at Community 360, an organisation based in Braintree and Colchester which is, “committed to a vision to build thriving local communities”. Jon believes that volunteering provides a multitude of positive opportunities and experiences.

In his previous job as an employment advisor, he could see one very good reason for jumping onto the volunteering band wagon.

Jon explains: “There are many reasons to volunteer and one very good one is as a positive way to get back into employment, in that it offers a chance to refresh skills, learn new ones and looks great on a CV. Often employers want to see what you have done most recently, rather than jobs and roles from years ago, and volunteering reflects motivation too, which employers really like.

“Parents sometimes phone up and enquire for their teenagers looking for a way for them to have their first experience of work. For some people who, for various reasons including poor health, have had a break from employment, it’s also a good way to prepare for going back to work permanently.”

Braintree volunteersBraintree volunteers

Older people are also keen to participate, as volunteering helps to fight social isolation which can be common and sometimes devastasting after retirement.

“There are options for people of all ages and from all walks of life to choose an area that is appealing,” adds Jon. “Charity retail shops are very popular, but people can also offer their time through social media, cooking, gardening or being a volunteer driver – there are many ways to give back to the community.”

Community 360 currently holds the contract for providing volunteers for Colchester and Clacton hospitals, with roles that range from bringing in a therapy dog and being a runner with prescriptions, to working in the canteen and meeting and greeting patients in A&E.

Jon is very keen to promote the concept of “ad-hoc” volunteering where favours can be “banked” and later traded off for some help in return.

Braintree MuseumBraintree Museum

“This is a great way for busy people to get involved in volunteering. For example, a hairdresser might offer to cut someone’s hair, maybe an elderly person who might be housebound, and that time would be banked as a credit.

It might be at some stage that the credit might be needed by the hairdresser for anything from language tuition to help with Photoshop. We had one situation where a lady used the Time Bank for help in setting up a new television set.

“The person who came round turned out to be a next door neighbour and they enjoyed a cup of tea and chat as well as sorting out the television.”

There are more than 500 Time Bank members currently registered and those holding ‘credits’ can also choose to donate them to someone else in need. Community 360 has dedicated staff that help lead more than 400 volunteers on community-led projects as well as offering expertise and support to over 300 organisations and community groups looking for support or help with raising and accessing funds.

BraintreeBraintree

They have an excellent website with plenty of information about what they do, and Jon also recommends visiting volunteeressex.org which lists hundreds of volunteer vacancies.

Braintree District Council keenly promotes volunteering – so much so that last year the council decided to join in with National Volunteers Week by holding an awards evening for volunteers nominated from local communities.

Volunteers’ Week takes place from June 1 to 7 every year and is a chance to recognise and celebrate the great contribution made by hundreds of people giving their time in a diverse range of roles.

Last year, over 50 people were nominated and the overall winner was Barbara Smith, who has volunteered at the Braintree District Mencap for more than 43 years. At the age of 82, Barbara still helps every week with the society’s Gateway Club, making tea and helping with transport.

Braintree Warner Textile ArchiveBraintree Warner Textile Archive

Councillor Peter Tattersley, Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, adds: “These awards are one way of thanking the exceptional people and groups for the incredible work they do within the community and who donate their time, skills and care, day in and day out.”

Tracey Rudling, CEO of Community 360, organises the awards alongside Braintree District Council. She commented: “The Braintree District Volunteer Awards is a way of showing our appreciation of those who offer their skills, energy, empathy and time to ensure we have stronger neighbourhoods, resilient services and better connected communities.”

Volunteers are clearly making a huge difference across the county in a variety of different ways, and receiving deserved recognition is extra icing on the feel-good factor cake that psychologists see as being a natural benefit of getting involved.

__________________

Follow Essex Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Essex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Essex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Essex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Neil Oliver is perhaps best known for his role as the presenter of the BBC’s Coast series, but he is about to embark on a quite different tour of the UK, calling in at Southend. Kate Everett found out more

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Essex-raised TV personality Andy Day has been a favourite on BBC children’s channel CBeebies for over 12 years. Now he’s branched into music, touring nationwide with his family-friendly band, Andy and the Odd Socks. Here he tells Denise Marshall about his Glastonbury debut, fighting bullying and becoming a father

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We’ve spoken to 6 of Essex’s most inspirational businesspeople to find out their secrets to success, how they achieve a work-life balance and who they are inspired by

Read more
Monday, September 3, 2018

In this second instalment of a postcard mini-series, Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office showcases some of the ERO’s picture postcard collection of Southend-on-Sea

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On the 60th anniversary of the passing of one of England’s most inspired and iconic composers, Sylvia Kent shares why a visit to Brentwood changed the course of both the career and composition of Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

National Trust rangers find themselves out and about in all sorts of weather, and required to do all sorts of tasks. Essex Life spoke to two female rangers happy to show that it’s a job they still love to do

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

There is much to be proud of in Colchester’s extensive history, but one man has been hard at work to ensure we don’t forget some of the darker times too. Petra Hornsby explains more

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Perhaps most noted as the 1980s queen of Page 3, life has taken some unusual turns for Chingford’s Samantha Fox. Tim Saunders catches up on this Essex girl’s career path

Read more
Friday, August 10, 2018

Revd John N Merrill has a love for Essex and a love for walking, and this year marks a special celebration of an achievement that embraced both of these passions

Read more
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

In the first of two features celebrating the traditional British seaside holiday, Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office shares picture postcards of the Essex coast | Words: Hannah Salisbury

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory


Job search in your local area




Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search