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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

CHARITY TODAY AWARDS

Strode Park Foundation: Our Volunteer Force

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Written by Sarah Bingham, Fundraising, Events & Volunteer Coordinator

THE volunteer force, I call them this deliberately – as they are good in number and fearless in their passion for working for us – are something that makes Strode Park Foundation incredibly proud. They work tirelessly across many departments and the simple gift of their time adds immeasurably to the life of the residents in our care.

Someone to talk to, to play board games with, to be read to by, to help service users go out, to assist with arts and crafts, etc are often a given that we forget to remember, however to the lives of those in residential care, these gifts open the world and bring it in, allowing our clients to feel the part of the community that they are but cannot always access easily.

Strode Park Foundation is lucky to have volunteers across many areas of the charity. Some help in the fundraising department. Our two charity shops are entirely volunteer-led as is the donations drop off point and sorting process and without these people, we would be able to have no high street charity shops. Our Theatre in the Park programme that takes place in the 300 seat amphitheatre on-site in Herne is entirely volunteer-run as are all of our large events such as the Christmas Fair and the Easter Egg Hunt.

Many of our services have volunteers that, every day, make a real difference to the lives of the people with disabilities that we care for.

A number of our volunteers are retired and offer time that has become free as a result of no longer working and others offer time that, quite simply, they long to fill for their own needs too, either is undoubtedly to Strode Park’s advantage and we receive this time very gratefully. All volunteers have precious gifts and skills that we can share and receive, and each character brings its own value to our amazing centres, services and events. We are truly blessed.

So, what happens then when we have a national pandemic? …

Sadly, due to the vulnerability of our clients, visits from anyone to any of our centres across Kent, including family, are now restricted and therefore this contact, in terms of health risk alone, becomes non-essential … but is it? … and how do we tackle this so that our residents are not disadvantaged? We have simply become more creative. We communicate regularly with our volunteers so that they know that we have not forgotten them and many send messages which we pass on to the clients that they work with. This communication is key and never fails to generate a smile, giving all, (our staff included) the reminder that they are not forgotten in these difficult and sometimes lonely times.

Many have said that they cannot wait to return, and we can’t wait either to resume what will be the new normality and to welcome our volunteer force back into the Strode Park Foundation family.

Strode Park Foundation would be incredibly disadvantaged if the volunteers were not part of our team and we are truly grateful to each and every one of them for sharing their time and skills with us. If you would be interested in joining our volunteer team, please do get in touch by emailing volunteering@strodepark.org.uk and I will get in touch and we can have a chat about how your skills could make a difference to the lives of the children and adults with disabilities in our care.

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