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Campaign recognises work of volunteers

Local volunteers working on a footbridge

VOLUNTEERS across Leicester are being celebrated as part of a nationwide campaign recognising their hard work.

National Volunteers Week runs from June 1 – 7, turning the spotlight on the valuable work of often unsung heroes and unpaid helpers whose dedication plays a vital role in their neighbourhoods.

Leicester has an active volunteering community ranging from those helping to maintain and improve the city’s parks, streets and waterways, to those helping behind the scenes at museums, libraries and community centres.

Volunteering opportunities are regularly advertised on Leicester City Council’s website, both for internal positions and working with outside bodies based in the city – the current list includes volunteering vacancies for roles as diverse as photo archiving, grounds maintenance and working with looked-after children.

Among the most visible roles are the Leicester Environmental Volunteers, who are a familiar sight on the city’s parks and waterways all year round, undertaking work ranging from conservation to construction work to improve Leicester’s open spaces.

Other outdoor roles include the city’s Tree Wardens, street champions, litter champions and community gardeners, while those preferring indoor work can choose to be a volunteer tour guide, toddler time helper in one of the city’s libraries or surveying visitors at the city’s museums.

Volunteers also regularly use their green-fingered skills to spruce up their local communities through the annual RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood and In Bloom groups.

Leicester assistant city mayor for communities, adult learning, jobs and skills, Cllr Mustafa Malik, said: “Our volunteers play a vital role in neighbourhoods across Leicester, helping in all sorts of areas of work.

“Not only do they share their own expertise and experience, but they also gain valuable new skills and responsibilities along the way.

“National Volunteers Week is a perfect time to recognise the hard work and commitment of these dedicated helpers, who sometimes work very much behind the scenes, but whose efforts are always very much appreciated.

“I’d urge anyone who is interested in working with like-minded volunteers, or who may have skills and knowledge to share with others, to find out more on our website.”

Mollie Preston is one of the volunteers at Leicester’s museums. She said: “By volunteering in a variety of roles I can gain the skills and experience to take into a professional career.”

Beth Cunningham is a volunteer at Leicester Diamonds, the city’s only baseball club for women and non-binary members. She added: “I volunteer because I fell in love with the sport and find it rewarding to support the club and our members.”

Jamila’s Legacy is a small Leicester-based charity involved in supporting and educating communities and organisations in mental health and well-being.

Its founder and CEO, Rehana Sidat, explained: “Volunteering is not just making a difference to others. It makes you feel good about the change you’ve made by donating kindness.”

Executive director of Age UK Leicester Shire and Rutland, Tony Donovan, added: “A massive thank you to all those who have helped us.

“It is a worthwhile experience so don’t be afraid if you haven’t done it before.”

Hadiqa Sayed, volunteer at Shama Women’s Centre, said: “I have gained so much through my volunteering journey at Shama Women’s Centre. I know I am making a  positive difference to women's lives, their families and our community – this really is empowering as a young woman.”

More information on local volunteering opportunities is available from the city council’s volunteering pages here