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Can you help a charity this Christmas?
A CHARITY has issued an urgent appeal for volunteers to help people in need this Christmas.
Southend Association of Voluntary Services says Christmas can be a lonely time for many vulnerable people, who rely on volunteers to help them through it.
Its centre co-ordinator Emily Middlemast said: “Christmas is a time when people might think about volunteering, when they might not have thought about it before.
“Volunteering for a one-off occasion, such as helping at a shelter or helping provide a meal, is a great way to try it for the first time.
“Charities couldn’t survive without volunteers. A lot of charities are run by volunteers, so they need extra hands on deck to help provide their services over the festive period.
“Christmas is about giving, kindness and compassion and there’s no better way to show that than by volunteering.”
Ms Middlemast says Southend’s winter night shelters are good examples of the kind of places where volunteers can make a real difference at Christmas.
They desperately need volunteers – and men, in particular – to help supervise at night.
Ms Middlemast said: “All the churches come together to open their doors for the homeless over the winter months, when it’s cold, and we need male volunteers who are prepared to help run them.
“They open the doors in the evenings, sign people in, give themameal, put mats out on the floor and make sure everybody’s happy and safe. There’s a team of volunteers, so they’re not on their own.
“Without people to help with things like that, they’re not going to be able to open the doors to the homeless.”
The volunteer centre has more than 600 roles available, working with a variety of charities, so there is something to suit most people.
Ms Middlemast added: “It’s everything from being an Ebay wizard to an admin angel, to befriending, m e n t o r i n g, conservation, f u r n i t u r e repair – you name it, we’ve got it.
“You can do as much, or as little as you want. It can be a few hours, a couple of times a week, once a month, evenings, weekends – there is a role to fit everyone’s lifestyle.
“I have one volunteer, for instance, who runs our Facebook page. She does it in her own time, from home.
“There are lots of occasional roles you can fill, as and when, such as distributing leaflets and posters, and making phone calls for one-off events.”
And it’s not all one-way traffic.
Volunteers may be giving something back to the community, but in return they get the chance to make new friends and add something new and different to their CVs.
Ms Middlemast said: “Helping the community is the most important thing, but for jobseekers, it’s a huge benefit, too, because they can get a reference.
“It shows they’re doing something positive while looking for work. It’s also a way to boost your confidence, make new friends and build your social life.
“It’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. It’s so satisfying and you get a real sense of fulfilment.
Anybody who’s tried it will tell you that.”
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