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Celebrating Volunteers’ Week by Maria Thompson

05 June 2018

This week charities and voluntary groups are joining together to celebrate those people who tirelessly give their time and energy to their organisation for free, for the 34th annual Volunteers’ Week campaign.

Volunteers are vital to the work of Kidney Research UK, from trustees to patient advisors, community event supporters, peer educators, bucket collection heroes and charity shop workers.

Every single one of them makes a vital contribution and one Kidney Research UK is more than grateful for.

Neil Stewart has been the Kidney Research UK shop manager in Redcar for over nine years. He has seen volunteers from all walks of life through his shop doors and he has enjoyed every moment.

“I have people volunteering aged from 15 to 91 years old, there are no limitations,” he said.

“I have people who might have just retired and want to give something back or people who have been long term unemployed. People volunteer for lots of reasons but the one thing they all say is working at the shop is like being part of a second family.

Alan Bainbridge (left), volunteer and shop manager, Neil.

In the nine years or so that I have been a manager I’ve seen about 358 volunteers through the doors; I had two new people start this week and they love it.

“We offer NVQ training, so people can get something out of the experience and they can do as much or as little as they want, from two hours a week to 100 a month.”

Alan Bainbridge started volunteering at the Redcar shop eight years ago and the experience has literally changed his life.

“Before I started here I had done a mechanic apprenticeship but hadn’t really been able to find anything after I finished. I was very shy and I think Neil (the manager) was the only person I spoke to for the first three months.

“Everyone who works in the shop is really nice and I like working with them all. I like the customers as well – some of them talk to me in the street now when I’m out – it’s like a second home to me.”

Not only has Alan been able to improve his social skills and confidence, he has also managed to lose over seven stone through being active and getting out into the community.

Volunteering can take many forms from trustee to campaigner, to carer or fundraiser; it can help people gain valuable new skills and experiences and boost their self-esteem.

Debbie Howland, Volunteer Programme Manager, said: “I am fortunate to work with volunteers in all different areas of the charity. There are so many benefits and outcomes to volunteering and I love witnessing them.

“If you are considering becoming a volunteer but you are not sure where to start, give us a call and we will be happy to have an informal chat.”

Find out more about volunteering if you’re interested in becoming part of the Kidney Research UK family.

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