As a new month begins, a special week called “Volunteers’ Week” will kick-off. It will take place from June 1-7 for a total of seven days. It is a nationwide celebration to express thanks to the vital work of volunteers in the UK as well as recruiting volunteers. Now in its 20th year, Volunteers' Week is a major event in the UK’s volunteering calendar.
As a Christian country, the UK is famous for its contribution in charity worldwide. It is the home to many large international and long standing Christian organizations such as the YMCA, Salvation Army, the Boys’ Brigade etc...
Volunteering is also a significant cultural tradition of churches and other faith communities. Rev Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester, a suffragan in the Oxford Diocese says, “Churches and faith communities are the largest family of voluntary organizations”. Research has shown that those who are committed as Christians are twice as likely to do voluntary work as non-churchgoers. In the UK, there are a total of 22 million volunteers who work for charities in their spare time.
This year Volunteers' Week is being organized by Volunteering England. Recruitment will be the major theme for 2004 with a particular focus on employee volunteering and young people.
Throughout the week, there will be a burst of activity as 32 volunteer managers including British Red Cross, Marks & Spencer, Oxfam, Greenpeace and many others publicly thank their volunteers and highlight their contribution to the organization and the wider community.
The Community Channel will screen a range of programs about volunteering projects throughout the UK, as well as a 1-hour "Action" special shot at Volunteering England's night out on the London Eye.
Christian Aid, one of the largest international Christian charities, supports the week. Tim Moulds, Christian Aid's Associate Director for Churches and Community, says, “Christian Aid is a volunteer movement, a movement for justice and a better world. Christian Aid Week shows that volunteer movement in action. More than a third of a million people go door-to-door, collecting money that will support poor communities to stand on their own feet. Christian Aid volunteers organize and manage Christian Aid Week - which raises approximately £15 million.”
Last year more than £14.3 million was raised with the help of over 350,000 volunteers. During Christian Aid Week, the longest-running and most successful fundraising week in the UK, more than seven million people contributed to the week in some way or another.
Magnus Franklin, who is a journalism student in London and volunteers one day a week for Christian Aid, says, “Volunteering is good for you because it gives you the chance to look around various charities and the work they do without having to commit yourself long-term. “
A website Do-it.org.uk is also set up by Volunteering England to provide details of volunteering opportunities throughout the UK and is powered by a large on-line database of current vacancies. The database allows users to search by postcode, type of organization and type of work.
For further details, please visit the websites http://www.volunteersweek.org.uk