As Volunteers Week 2017 comes to a close, ACRE wanted to take the time to say one final THANK-YOU to all volunteers, who are making England’s rural communities such vibrant and cohesive places to live.
Volunteers need support - their projects, activities and businesses need funding to be sustainable and ACRE and the ACRE Network proudly remain available to support volunteers and whatever they are doing to make rural communities in England better places to live.
In the face of shop, post office and pub closures, rural residents find a way to carry on. Volunteers are helping those most in need to access services in other nearby communities, through community transport schemes or car sharing projects (like those you will find via the Community First Wiltshire, Link schemes). Others are actually setting up community-owned businesses and running the local shop or pub themselves – just take a look at some of the projects involved with the Village SOS campaign and supported by ACRE Network members. These enterprising individuals are doing all they can to ensure that vulnerable residents, older people or those who do not have their own transport do not become isolated in their own home.
Volunteers also link up with professional organisations and agencies, connecting rural residents up with care and support services which enable them to live independently in their home. Projects such as the Good Neighbour Schemes, which are supported by a number of ACRE Network members and other specific activities such as the ‘TED project’ in Lincolnshire are fantastic examples of where volunteers are contributing a huge amount to make where they live a better place for all.
Maintaining a central meeting point and enabling residents to meet socially is probably the most common place you’ll find the biggest bank of volunteers in any rural community. The volunteer management committees running the charities responsible for England’s 10,000 rural village halls give up much time to make sure that their local building remains open, clean, available for hire and run as efficiently as a businesses to cover all the running costs. The ACRE Network has supported these individuals since the 1920s, offering a one-to-one point of contact and a personal service which has enabled these vital community buildings to not only survive but also thrive.
Although this short blog piece doesn’t cover the breadth and depth of what a volunteer can do in our rural communities, ACRE wants to champion their efforts and celebrate all they do. Volunteers give up their time for the benefit of others and although we’ve had a week celebrating each and every one of them, the fact is we need to support them throughout the year and make sure that our thanks are not just saved up for this one week in June each year.