Business 365 Issue 8

VOLUNTEERS - our thanks
by Chris Martin
Head of Operations, The Children's Centre

It's difficult to express how grateful we are to receive your help, your time, your advice or your professional service. For those people that help us over and over again we are so very lucky to have you as a massive part of what we do. Anyone that devotes their time and energy to help us is making an investment in a child's future, a family's togetherness or untangling life's complexities in the lives of the vulnerable.

Volunteering is calling for people who are internally driven by a passion or an experience that they want to help or make a difference. If directed correctly, rest assured volunteers make a massive difference. By helping us with focused delivery of seasonal tasks on the Farm it frees up our practice team to work with young people, groups and families. The Volunteers we have are as valued as much as our full time staff.

Volunteering at the Farm comes in a variety of forms, we have our individuals who come and help us regularly, our trusted professional's that support us with their niche skills, therapeutic volunteers and corporate groups. Every minute of help is a minute gained against the 'Farm Clock'. A clock that seems in reality to travel twice as quickly compared with real time. There is so much to do as the seasons pass, tasks that are the result of planned requirements or preparation of for new projects meeting a change in demand.

Each of our Volunteer types offer the ability to take on tasks that wouldn't get done otherwise or allow us to create bespoke areas to complement our activities. We are fortunate enough to have attracted the attention of the corporates and major entities who are willing to purchase items to facilitate projects that directly benefit our animals, our clients or help us raise the profile of The Children's Centre. These guys come in numbers and under guidance stand alongside us and work together on some pretty impressive building and Farm projects. Structures such as our 'Round House, Hobbit House and boardwalks are all volunteer assisted projects. Our latest Bee habitat is an example of what can be achieved by mass participation.

Our Theruaputic Volunteers are very special from the point of view they themselves are with us for a personal reason. Usually looking for an opportunity to grow as individual with our support and help. Our support combined with the healing attributes of the Farm provides a recipe for reflection, tailored learning and growth. Developing new skills, gaining experience and socialising with all age groups.

Assistance on Events by volunteers is invaluable, events simply wouldn't take place without them. The Children's Centre is extremely lucky to have a fantastic family of willing event supporters. People who are willing to stand out in remote locations time keeping on the likes of 'Race the Sun' or our bakers that provide us with cakes for refreshment for events at the Farm. Professional support where skills are often applied free of charge or at a vastly reduced rate makes a massive difference to our ability to meet challenges with property, vehicles and buildings.

Volunteers are unfortunately those people who are sometimes inconvenienced when things are cancelled or rearranged. It is important to keep people informed and appraised as quickly as possible if there is a change. Keeping those involved up to speed builds the Team Spirit and cements great working relationships.

Volunteering needs to be fulfilling, meeting the driving force or reasoning of the individual or collective. For some it is their own experiences, good and bad, that drives them to help and for others it's a personal need. When we say 'need' that person in helping us also helps or heels themselves'. For the corporates it can be the Farm itself and the opportunity to help us and in doing so also underpin their own initiatives or considerations. Some corporates have a long association in helping us going back decades and they have been part of The Children's Centre journey coming back time after time.

Volunteers sometimes underestimate their importance failing to appreciate that without the support they give we cannot do what we do. In a world where the gift of time is often undervalued we realise and appreciate any assistance, assistance that this is often more important than a financial help.

So returning to those all-important words, 'Thank You'. Words that we say and really mean to all those who have helped us and those who are currently helping us.

How can you help?

There are many ways you can support our work.

  • £3,000 per day to run our charitable programmes
  • £7 benefit for every £1 spent on Thriving families programme
  • 40% of local children and young people engaged in our services
  • 16 groups of all ages hosted at the Farm each week