Volunteers who help run community events and activities across County Durham are being thanked for their hard work and commitment as part of National Volunteer Week.
Durham County Council is recognising thousands of volunteers and the essential contribution they make to its services, during a series of celebration events to mark the occasion.
Celebration activities including coffee mornings, quiz nights and walking and cycling events will take place throughout the week, which runs until Tuesday 7 June. Volunteers also attended a ‘thank you’ ceremony at Durham Town Hall.
Across County Durham, thousands of volunteers give up their time on a regular basis to help run cultural events, activities which improve people’s wellbeing and projects that improve the environment.
Thirty-two-year-old Kimberley Kelly, from Bishop Auckland, volunteered as a fitness instructor at Woodhouse Close Leisure Centre, which helped her to gain the experience and skills she needed to apply for a job with the council’s leisure services.
Former delicatessen worker Kimberley was retraining at her local college to work in the fitness industry when staff at the local leisure centre told her about their volunteering opportunities. Whilst working both her retail role and a job as a singer, Kimberley was also able to offer her time as a fitness instructor for 10 months, before applying for a paid, casual role at the leisure centre.
Kimberley, who now works at Woodhouse Close as a lifeguard, swim teacher, aqua instructor and gym instructor, said: “Volunteering was a great way for me to get the experience I needed to pursue a job I knew I would love. I would definitely recommend volunteering to other people. It was a fantastic way to meet new people and learn new skills – it’s the best thing that I could have done to get into the line of work I wanted.”
Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting the council to deliver a wide range of services, including festivals; activities in libraries, leisure centres and museums; countryside and litter-picking programmes; and walking, cycling and running groups.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We’re extremely grateful to all of our volunteers who donate their time to ensure our festivals and wider culture, sport and tourism programmes are that little bit more special. Their hard work, dedication and commitment makes visitors and participants feel welcome, helps them to enjoy their experience and encourages people to join in and return to activities we deliver across the county. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers – they are a credit to our services.”
Volunteering can be a fantastic way to gain skills and knowledge, meet new people, and have great fun. To find out more about the many volunteering opportunities with Durham County Council visit www.durham.gov.uk/volunteering