Although coronavirus may have shut shops, kept families apart, postponed charity fundraising activities and kept the NHS very busy, communities across Suffolk and north east Essex are being acknowledged for their brilliant work in looking after one another.
This Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June) representatives a number of local organisations are taking the opportunity to thank those who have been helping others in need during this time.
Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive, NHS North East Essex, NHS West Suffolk and NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: “An incredibly strong community spirit has been in evidence over the past few months; the role of volunteers has had a very positive impact on the lives of people who might otherwise have struggled greatly, from dropping off prescriptions to the vulnerable, providing over-the-phone catch ups to those on their own to delivering much-needed groceries.
“I would also particularly like to thank those staff across the three CCGs who have volunteered to work in our local hospitals. They have returned to work in roles they previously held, such as physiotherapists, helping the NHS cope during this busy time.”
Nick Hulme, CEO of ESNEFT, said: “Our volunteers do amazing work and we simply couldn’t run our hospitals without them. I want to say a massive thank you on behalf of all of us, but most importantly on behalf of the thousands and thousands of patients we treat every day. Without our volunteers’ help, their care simply wouldn’t be as good.”
Michelle Boor, volunteer coordinator at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to each one of our generous volunteers, who together contributed around 52,000 hours of their time to helping others at our Trust last year.
“They make such a difference to both Trust staff and patients, and bring so much wisdom and kindness to our team. Although, due to COVID-19 restrictions we do not currently have our usual volunteers with us, we are keeping in regular contact with them and we look forward to a time when we can warmly welcome them back to the Trust.”
Community Action Suffolk is running a ‘spotlight’ thank you campaign using nominees from their wider #SuffolkCommunityHero campaign which began at the start of lockdown, to provide a social media platform of thanks to any individual that someone wants to highlight for their support during the crisis. Their volunteering team has also released on CAS social media the ‘Volunteer’s Poem’, composed by Charlie Haylock at their volunteering conference last year, as a dedicated thank you to every volunteer across Suffolk providing vital support to thousands of people across Suffolk at this time.
Christine Abraham, Chief Executive, Community Action Suffolk, said: “We couldn’t be more proud of the incredible volunteering response this county has created during the pandemic – these volunteers have never been needed more. They are providing crucial and life-changing services with smiles and kindness, and it is truly heart-warming to be a part of such a movement. It is our privilege to support volunteering across Suffolk and one that we never take for granted so we give our thanks to each and every one of you.”
Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360, said: “This Volunteers Week, it is important to highlight the invaluable support that our volunteers have provided during these unprecedented times. Never has it been so important to say thank you to all the wonderful volunteers across Essex. From collecting prescriptions to delivering food parcels to providing telephone befriending when it’s most needed, their services are a poignant reminder of our amazing community spirit, which has positively impacted our most vulnerable residents. A heartfelt thank you to every organisation and individual who have helped so many. All those individuals who have registered to help others, have ensured our vulnerable residents feel safe, reassured and more content during these difficult times. Thank you for all your tireless work!”
Karen Points, Strategic Director from Abbeycroft Leisure, said “Many of our staff have been furloughed, and with time on their hands they wanted to support our teams helping to keep people safe and well. Alliance working in west Suffolk has built the relationships we needed to get a volunteering scheme up and running in a number of weeks so that volunteers could work with the community health and adult social care integrated teams, carrying out tasks as varied as delivering essential equipment, making up packs of PPE and helping out on reception.” This help is really valued – one member of the Newmarket team, Angie, commented “Hugely helpful …. and we are extremely grateful, especially when we are busy”.
A big thank you to every volunteer in Suffolk and north east Essex – what you are doing is very much appreciated.