Every June 1 to 7 the voluntary sector says thank you to volunteers across the UK. In 2020 it has been decided that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a change of tone is required. Volunteers’ Week will not be celebrated in the same way as usual out of respect to the current situation surrounding the pandemic.
We would like to thank all who have volunteered their time in the past three months to support people in their local communities in the South Downs and further afield. In mid-March we found ourselves in a state of crisis and people rallied to give their time in support of other people threatened by Covid-19. Volunteering has become a key part of people’s lives in the UK, and evidence suggests people want to continue to help.
While we, like all other National Parks and partner organisations, have taken the decision to pause volunteer groups until it is safe to resume, we would like to express our thanks to our volunteers and those across the South Downs National Park for their support.
In 2019 volunteers donated over 4,000 days towards the purposes of the National Park, contributing more than 24,000 hours of their time collectively. Though the National Park will be missing the impact of volunteers, we all know there will be plenty to be getting on with when the time is right and it is safe for our groups to meet again. In the meantime we hope the amazing volunteer and community response to the Covid-19 pandemic will set a benchmark of the role for volunteers in civil society.
It should be a reminder that when times are hard there are people who want to help. We also hope this will inspire young people, people from under-represented communities, and people who were unaware of ways to become a volunteer, to donate their time, energy, skills and knowledge to support the many important causes in need of support in the UK.
Daniel Greenwood, Volunteering Development Officer for the South Downs National Park