When I think about a celebration, I think about a party, a chance to make new friends and renew bonds. I think about fun. And a celebration of volunteering is no different in my mind so it was great to have a chance to thank our 400 plus volunteers as part of Volunteers’ Week 2015.

The first week in June was National Volunteer’s Week, the annual celebration of the massive 191 million hours volunteers provide to charities like ours across the country. It was a fantastic opportunity for Changing Lives to celebrate with our volunteers and say a huge thank you for everything they do – from nutrition advice and administration support to garden maintenance and working in our charity shops. Of course we don’t need to wait for this annual celebration to say thanks – but it’s a good opportunity to make an extra special fuss and show how important they are to everything we do at Changing Lives.

In celebration many Changing Lives’ projects held their own unique events including a BBQ, a fish and chip supper, quizzes, and afternoon teas; all great opportunities to catch up with our friends, volunteers and non-volunteers alike. And it will be all the better if we can make volunteering that bit more celebrated in future – starting in June but continuing all year round. That really would be a celebration of volunteering.

But I’m not sure we’re there yet and Volunteers’ Week is important opportunity for our organisation to mark their special contribution. Volunteering with Changing Lives can be a life-changing experience for both the volunteers and the people they work with. Volunteers make a real difference to people’s lives, whilst also offering people the opportunity to use existing skills or learn new ones, gain confidence, be creative, respond to challenges, and socialise. If you’re looking for work, you can gain valuable experience for your CV, and you’ll hopefully feel satisfaction from playing a positive role in someone else’s life. But above all else you’ll have fun and enjoy your experience. So I hope next year’s celebration of volunteering is even bigger and better – and goes on for much more than just one week in June.

To find out more about the varied volunteering opportunities available at Changing Lives please visit our volunteering pages here