Two local people have been praised during an annual event which highlights the role of volunteers in society.
Volunteers’ Week commenced on Wednesday, June 1 and runs until June 12. It aims to celebrate the difference that local volunteers make in the local community.
Bert Foster from Newtownabbey and Lynnette Robinson from Ballyclare have both been volunteering at charitable organisations in the region for a number of years.
Lynette volunteers at the Cancer Fund for Children, while Bert volunteers with the Stroke Association’s Newtownabbey Support Group.
Bert said: “When I had my stroke in 2010, it took me a while to get back on my feet. I was stuck in the house with no licence and no job. I was paralysed down my right hand side, which is still a bit weak today.
“While I was in hospital I wanted to give something back for the help that I received. I was put in touch with Janice, the volunteer coordinator at the Stroke Association – but I wasn’t sure what I could do to help.
“My role as a volunteer is quite varied. I am a volunteer driver, I help out at the support groups, I help out at fundraising events and I help with fundraising activities. I really like volunteering – if I can do the things and am free I will do it. Its very humbling to help - its like I always say, if you want to feed good about yourself, do something for someone else. I love being able to see the smile and appreciation on someone’s face when I’ve been able ot help them at the group.
“I’ve also became really good friends with some of the group members and the other volunteers”
Lynette heard about the charity through her employer Henderson’s and signed up to take part in an overseas trek, along the Great Wall of China, with a group of colleagues. She said: “While we were raising funds for the trek I was moved by the number of people thanking me for what I was doing, telling me what a fantastic charity Cancer Fund for Children was and how they had really helped their family. It made me realise just how important fundraising for charity was.”
Lynnette has been helping out a variety of ways ever since – from bag packs, to bucket collections, selling raffle tickets to being Santa’s Little Helper at the charity’s annual Christmas Grotto.
When asked what motivated her to become a regular volunteer she said: “I lost my granddad at a very young age to cancer and I know the devastating affect this disease has on the family and how confusing it can be for younger members of the family. This is one of the reasons Cancer Fund for Children means so much to me. They help every family member through this difficult time. Seeing the help they provide and hearing just how much it means to the families they support is a very humbling experience.
“When you start volunteering for Cancer Fund for Children you realise that it’s like a little family. Everyone knows each other, and many have been volunteering for many years. If you are thinking about it, stop thinking and just do it. You will not be sorry you have”
Barry Macaulay, Stroke Association Northern Ireland Director added: “Our charity could not operate successfully without the volunteers who help us provide support to the thousands of stroke survivors across Northern Ireland as well as increasing awareness of stroke. Our volunteers are central to everything we do – whether it’s blood pressure checks, fundraising or campaigning – people like Bert help us to conquer stroke. On behalf of the Stroke Association, I would like to thank Bert for his dedication, commitment and continued hard work.”
Naomi Braithwaite from Cancer Fund for Children said: “There are many reasons why people choose to volunteer. For many, it is an opportunity to do something positive and to help children and young people with cancer and their families. For others, they simply have spare time that they wish to give, or they would like to gain valuable work experience. By giving a little of their time, our volunteers help us make a BIG difference”
If you have been inspired to volunteer and would like to find out more about opportunities available please contact Cancer Fund for Children on 028 9080 5599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to volunteer for the Stroke Association, please contact the Northern Ireland office on 028 9050 8020 or by emailing email@example.com. You can also find out more information about the different volunteering roles by visiting www.stroke.org.uk/volunteering.