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Liam O'Toole, Chair of The Richmond Group, sends a message to all our member charities' volunteers during Volunteers Week

The pandemic we’re living through has brought volunteering into the spotlight as rarely before. The gift of volunteers’ time has always been important to charities, for a variety of reasons, such as extending our reach and relevance, being able to support with innovative ideas, and enabling people with lived experience to shape our strategic and operational plans. Volunteers ensure we are rooted in the community and understand what the real needs are.

During this unprecedented time, Richmond Group member charities’ volunteers are really showing the difference their skills can make. Some have taken the lead in developing new ways for our beneficiaries to stay in touch with peers. Others have supported some of the essential redesign of our organisations’ offers to service users.

Many of our volunteers have had to stop their usual roles and have shown incredible fortitude and creativity, exploring alternative ways of being there for people. Sometimes they’ve surprised themselves by using technology where they may not have been enthusiastic about it before.

Volunteers Week is an important time to recognise and thank people who are giving their time for their amazing achievements and this year’s week is no less special than others. In some ways, with the challenges we’re now facing in supporting our beneficiaries, it’s even more important to say a public “thank you”. Our gratitude and recognition also reflects the debt we owe to those of our volunteers who have given their time day in, day out over the years, but who are unable to carry out their roles at present. It is these volunteers who have kept our organisations going and will be there to help us as we come out of the pandemic response stage.

Having an effective volunteer journey to support volunteers and give them a good experience is essential to continue to engage people through this testing time and into the future. Volunteer management provides the infrastructure necessary for this, so we’d like to thank the volunteering teams within the Richmond Group organisations for ensuring this happens and adapting so flexibly to support.

And when Volunteers Week comes round again in 2021, I’m sure we’ll have even more reasons to pay tribute to our volunteers. Thank you all.