Volunteers’ Week 2015: How hard is it to say thank you?02 Jun 2015
‘(He was aware) of the value of the word of praise dropped at exactly the right moment; and would have thought himself extremely stupid to withhold what cost him so little and was productive of such desirable results.’ – Georgette Heyer, Sylvester
Volunteers’ week presents all of us in the voluntary sector with the opportunity to say thank you to those who give us their time, their expertise, and most important their souls to our work. But, it does lead me to think why we need a reminder to say thank you to those who, week in and week out, give their time freely for nothing.
I know that volunteers tell us they get as much out of their volunteering as they put in. I know that some people volunteer with us as a way of giving back to an organisation that has helped them or a close family member. I know some do this volunteering to gain work experience that will help them into a paid job. And I also know that some do this because either where they work compels them to do ‘volunteering days’ or they are at school and have to be part of a scheme.
But, and it is a big but, each of us often find ways of getting out of things we don’t want to do, and however we look at it, at Jewish Care, each year over 3,000 people give us their time and commitment to support our work to give meaning to the lives of those who use our services.
So that brings me back to Volunteers’ Week. Surely, we should all be constantly thanking our volunteers (and many of us do). However, in a large organisation it is easy for some, when we see those familiar volunteer faces, to forget how lucky we are to have their input into our work.
As the quote from Georgette Heyer reminds us, it is the way in which we thank people – it may not be words of praise or thanks, it could be as simple as stopping and saying good morning to our volunteers each time we see them. It could also be a way of getting to know them better by enquiring after their health, their family, their weekend. There are so many ways, each day or week we can acknowledge our volunteers.
So, for me, Volunteers’ Week is not just a chance to say thank you but acts as a reminder to us all to do better next year and constantly acknowledge that army of unpaid support to our work and get to know better those individuals who give of themselves so that others can have a better life.
Sonia Douek is Head of volunteering and community development at Jewish Care and has developed a strategy for the organisation that has seen the growth of volunteers in the organisation reach 3,000 people.