It’s a New Year. The days are getting longer. Vaccines are being deployed. There’s still a long way to go but there’s hope on the horizon and you can help everyone get their sooner. Here’s just a few ways how:

Charitable groups are needed more than ever but are reaching crisis point. A tree with its great supportive boughs spread wide can so easily be felled in just one night, but it would take decades to grow back. In that time the most vulnerable, forgotten and ignored by the system would be without support. That could be your Nan, your Nephew, or your Neighbour. So it’s up to us, citizens of York to help our communities. So if you’re thinking of a New Year’s resolution this year, why not make it to do your bit to make your community a little better? You can also feel safe in the knowledge that it’s allowed, even in this latest lockdown. So have a look at all the local groups near you who need your support and give a bit of your time.

I say “give” your time, but that infers that that time has been lost or wasted once you’ve given it. In our busy modern lifestyles it may be more apt to say “gift yourself the time to volunteer”. Because while it helps others or our environment, volunteering also helps you. It’s a chance to meet new people, to find a purpose, to discover you can make a real difference, to learn new skills and to improve your mental and physical health.

When people hear “Volunteering” they often think of having to help out every week, and though this is true of some roles, it can also be one-off events, helping with an online task from home or just making an occasional phone call. There are all sorts of roles, helping at vaccination sites, getting outdoors and doing gardening or conservation in your local area, chatting to people about your favourite books amongst the stacks of a charity bookshop, or using your professional skills and experience to help run a charity as a volunteer trustee.


York Volunteers – York’s new Volunteer Centre

To help you find an activity you want to get involved in and to help support the needs of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector here in York, York Volunteers, York’s own Volunteering Centre, launched at the end of last year and it’s already growing. Charlotte Laursen, joins Bev Frain and Drew Richardson in the team of Volunteer Centre Coordinators to help organisations with volunteering best practice, to help publicise their volunteering opportunities and to help volunteers find the best volunteering opportunity.


NHS Volunteer Responders

2020 saw a national surge in people from all over our communities wanting to pull together and help out in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, most as NHS Volunteer Responders, COVID-19 Community Hub Volunteers and Mutual Aid Group Volunteers and we want to ensure that all these people get the opportunity to help and that they get the most out of the experience. We want to ensure that this drive to help doesn’t peter out and instead becomes a volunteering renaissance. To work towards this, I have taken on the role of Embedding and Evaluating NHS Volunteer Responders Programme Lead for Humber, Coast & Vale to support both the NHS and VCSE sector in research to evaluate the NHS Volunteer Responder programme and to feedback on areas for improvement and ultimately what their legacy should be. I would love to hear from you if you have volunteered, been supported by or referred people to NHS Volunteer Responder, COVID-19 Community Hubs or Mutual Aid Groups or if you’re someone who found restrictions or short-falls in these programmes or their systems, or if you think a different approach should have or should be taken, then please do get in contact with me as soon as possible via: to ask how your voice can be included.

Those are just a few ways you can make a difference – here’s to a much a better year!



Drew Richarson

York Volunteers Volunteer Centre Coordinator, and Embedding and Evaluating NHS Volunteer Responders Programme Lead for Humber, Coast & Vale.