Supporting your community

For information about opportunities to support your local community during coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit the How to help page of the South Gloucestershire Council website.

Offering your time by helping out in your street, neighbourhood or with a local organisations is a great way to meet people, learn new skills and build confidence. You could make a huge difference to someone’s life and help them to play an active part in their community. 

If you are interested in volunteering or making your current group or activity more welcoming, this article contains information and advice on how to take the next step.

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Volunteering opportunities and information or resources

You can search for volunteering services in your local area on Wellaware: a website which provides information on a wide range of organisations, support groups, community groups, events and activities that can help improve your health and wellbeing in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The South Gloucestershire Council website and the South Gloucestershire Volunteer Centre Partnership also provide information on volunteering.

Milestones Trust offer lots of different opportunities to support users of their service, including sharing your hobbies or interests, befriending, helping people take part in activities, or accompanying individuals on trips. No specific skills are needed, just a willingness to bring an added dimension to someone’s life.

You can also turn free time into useful time by volunteering at a local library. Volunteering opportunities include providing IT support to help users gain skills (such as using the internet or sending email), or delivering library books to older people living in their own homes or in care homes to help them continue their love of books and offering them the stimulation of reading.

If you love animals, becoming a volunteer for Cinnamon Trust means you will provide peace of mind and practical help for those who need it. This can include walking the dog of a housebound owner, or providing a temporary fostering service for pets whose owners face a spell in hospital.

Gov.UK can also help you find out how to volunteer in your local community and give your time to help others.

Setting up an activity or group

You may have recognised an opportunity in your local area, and have the skills and energy to do something about it.  If you would like some advice about how to set up an activity or group, you can contact the following organisations with development workers who can support you.

The Good Neighbours Network is a small but structured group of volunteers who offer to do simple tasks for elderly neighbours or others in need. The council are supporting people to set up networks in their areas, in order to help people to be involved and empowered in their own communities. Currently there are two Good Neighbours Schemes operating in South Gloucestershire: one in Pucklechurch, and one in Frampton Cotterell.

Volunteers are encouraged to offer their services only for activities that they would feel happy and confident to carry out. This handbook explains what a Good Neighbours Network is and how it works, and gives useful information and sample documents to anyone developing a network in their area.

For more advice, you can also telephone the council on 01454 862356 or email cchengagement@southglos.gov.uk.

Being a welcoming organisation or group

Welcoming older people could benefit your existing organisation or group, by enabling people of all ages to actively participate in community activities.

Becoming a welcoming organisation makes it easier for older people to stay connected to people that are important to them, and help people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages. It also provides appropriate support to those who can no longer look after themselves.

Here is a simple checklist of prompts for organisations and groups to consider and adopt:

Range of activities - offer a range of activities and a number of different ways in which people can contribute. Encourage all members to contribute their skills and knowledge. Think about how your activities might affect people with particular characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, disability, or religion

Promote your organisation or group to attract new members - have written publicity about your group and think about who is for. Identify a person who is responsible for publicising the group, including looking into options for local promotion such as posters at public venues, local newsletters and free publications. You can also add your group or organisation to Wellaware. Take up opportunities as they arise to attract new members through different routes

Equality and Diversity - have a policy for this and review it each year. Ensure that you provide training or awareness raising opportunities relating to equality and diversity for management, committee members, staff and volunteers.

Celebrate someone who deserves to be recognised

If you know of someone who deserves to be recognised for the work they are doing in their community, you can nominate them for a South Gloucestershire Council Chair’s Community Award.

The chair’s community awards were established in 2003 to recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution local unpaid volunteers make to life in South Gloucestershire, and have since become an annual event.

Further information

The NHS website contains information about the ways you can do your bit to help lonely or socially isolated elderly people in your community, including during the winter season, when older people can be particularly vulnerable.

Watch the council’s short video about volunteering for inspiration and see how it can really make a difference.

 

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