VOLUNTEERING: A little goes a long way

VOLUNTEERING: A little goes a long way

Every little helps…  it’s the slogan of a well-known high street supermarket chain familiar to many of us.

But for local community volunteer Carol Bate, it’s also become a bit of a personal mantra, as well… one which she hopes more neighbours will adopt as their own. The grandmother of two has recently become the latest ambassador for a promotional campaign designed to inspire more people to volunteer in their community.

Leigh Neighbours, the National Lottery funded charity which is overseeing the investment of a million pounds in an area of Leigh West, called on Carol to become a poster girl for the campaign in the hope of encouraging like-minded people to take the plunge and get involved.

Carol is a champion for volunteers because of her own positive experience after she benefitted from the help of others. In early 2018, Carol, her husband Arthur, and her neighbour Jean Rigby, were at their wit’s end. The back alley behind their home on Selwyn Street had for years been subjected to environmental anti-social behaviour including litter, dog fouling and fly-tipping – and it was getting steadily worse.

Carol called on the community group Leigh Neighbours to help tackle the issue, and they in turn invited their partners at The Prince’s Trust to get involved. Leigh Neighbours invested in a skip and other materials, whilst students from The Prince’s Trust Team Programme carried out an intensive deep clean of the alley, transforming it into a landscaped area that Carol and her neighbours could be proud of.

“The result was astonishing,” she says. “The young people created a wonderful haven for the neighbours and even the bin men have commented saying it’s the best back alley in the whole of Leigh! We’re so grateful to the young students from The Prince’s Trust for their help, and to Leigh Neighbours for their support, too. The difference they’ve made is immeasurable. It’s not only improved the area, it’s improved the quality of life for local residents as well.

“It’s also one of the reasons why I like to get involved in Leigh Neighbours events, because it’s important – especially having had the benefit of it yourself –  to invest time, make an effort and give something back.”

Susan Gredecki, chair of Leigh Neighbours, says: “I understand that volunteering isn’t necessarily everybody’s cup of tea, and there are many reasons why people might think twice before putting their hands up to get involved.

“For some, it might be a lack of confidence, and feeling daunted at making that initial approach. For others, it’s the mistaken belief they think that they have nothing to offer. But nothing could be further from the truth.

“We’ve all got something to give, whether that’s volunteering with an organised group, or simply doing something on your own. Hosting community events or fundraisers is one way of going about it. But there’s many ways we can contribute to the community, from checking in on an elderly neighbour to picking up litter in your street. It’s all about making a difference – and every little effort adds up.”

In a bid to support local volunteers, Leigh Neighbours has made a pot of cash available to fund grass-roots initiatives. Since it was launched five years ago, Leigh Neighbours has already channelled thousands of pounds into the local economy and delivered hundreds of free activities and events for the local community.

For more information about volunteering opportunities, email volunteer@lnpb.org.uk

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is aimed at young people aged 16 to 25, not currently employed or in full time education. The programme is a free personal development course that takes place in Blackpool, Chorley, Leigh, Southport, Warrington and Wigan. Over 16 action-packed weeks, young people take part in a number of exciting challenges, meeting new people and gaining new skills. This well established nationally recognised programme ensures most participants enter employment, education or training within three months of completion.

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Fore more information about The Prince’s Trust Team Programme visit www.groundwork.org.uk