Volunteers who work with vulnerable children and families in Cumbria have been awarded for their achievements and long service at a charity event.
Around 20 volunteers working with children and families at Barnardo’s children’s centres across the county were joined by staff to attend the celebratory event at Lingholm Estate in Keswick on Friday 14 June 2019.
The volunteers all work in roles directly supporting families in Cumbria, ranging from health champions and children’s activity workers, to drivers who assist families that may be struggling to travel to appointments.
Amongst those celebrated and awarded at the event were:
David Lunney, 71, from Allerdale, has been volunteering for more than 10 years in a number of roles with Barnardo’s. He received a long service award and a special Barnardo’s rose for his garden. David’s wife previously worked for Barnardo’s and encouraged him to start volunteering for the charity after he retired from his job as a maintenance fitter. David has volunteered as a driver, providing a lifeline for families by helping transport them to appointments and children to/from pre-school. He also volunteers on the ‘Let’s Cook Together’ courses run by Barnardo’s at Maryport and Workington, teaching groups of parents and children how to cook together with raw ingredients and learn about healthy eating. David also enjoys his role in helping to run forest school groups, taking children bird and animal watching, building dens and making fires with flints.
David said: “It’s great to be able to take kids back to nature in the forest schools like when I was a kid. The children love it and it’s amazing to see their faces when they spot a deer or accomplish things we used to take for granted. I also love helping out on the cookery courses and getting the kids involved in preparing and making the food – often if parents see how much the children are enjoying it, it rubs off on them too. I’ve learnt so much through my volunteering roles with Barnardo’s and would recommend it to anyone, it’s such a worthwhile thing to do.”
Macauley Pattinson, 22, from Carlisle has been volunteering with Barnardo’s for five years at children’s centres in and around Carlisle. Macauley was recently awarded the national Marsh Trust Young Volunteer of the Year award for his services over the past year helping to run a crèche in Carlisle to look after children of refugees whilst their parents attend English classes. Macauley carries out his volunteering once a week alongside his studies for a Level 3 childcare qualification at Carlisle College. His mother and sister also volunteer for the charity.
Macauley said: “It’s great to see the change in the children as their confidence grows as they attend the sessions each week, and it’s an amazing feeling to receive an award for something I love doing so much. Volunteering has helped to grow my own confidence and enabled me to start studying for a childcare qualification at college. All the staff at Barnardo’s are so supportive, both with my volunteering and with my studies, and I have learnt a lot from them.”
Zara McKnight, 19, is from Carlisle and has just finished her first year studying for a degree in applied psychology at the University of Cumbria. Zara has only been volunteering with Barnardo’s children’s centres for around six weeks, but has already thrown herself into supporting lots of different group activities each week, including baby massage classes, forest schools, groups supporting vulnerable children and health champion sessions, supporting new parents with babies.
Zara said: “I am really enjoying volunteering at various children’s groups and would recommend it to any students, not just those studying a course related to the charity, such as childcare. It’s so important to gain experience outside of the university environment and the benefits of volunteering extend beyond just gaining practical experience and expertise in specific areas – it helps build confidence and you meet new people and friends.”
Jacquie Baccar, Barnardo’s Volunteer Co-ordinator for Cumbria said: “It was great to be able to celebrate the contribution that so many of our volunteers in Cumbria make by giving up their free time for Barnardo’s, and to recognise the impact they have on the lives of so many children and families across Cumbria.
“In total we have around 50 people who volunteer their time in Cumbria to support children’s services operated by Barnardo’s. We simply could not operate without our volunteers’ support and we are so grateful for the time they dedicate to us, be that a few hours or a few sessions each week. Barnardo’s provides full training and support for all our volunteers and we have a large number of roles available, including some specialised roles, with our early help and outreach teams at children’s centres across the region.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering with us to visit our website to see what roles are available in their area. No formal qualifications are required, but roles could lead to future employment opportunities, or simply act as a rewarding way to meet new people and spend free time.”
Volunteering roles currently available with Barnardo’s include supporting children’s activity groups and creches, breastfeeding support workers, health champions, drivers and family support volunteers, who work directly with vulnerable families to help them access the services and support they need.
Volunteers are usually asked to commit to a minimum of four hours per week, which is normally required to support work between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Full training is provided and volunteers are supported and supervised by members of Barnardo’s staff working in the children’s centres.
For further details about volunteering roles and locations available working with Barnardo’s children’s centres and retail shops across Cumbria, please visit https://www.barnardos.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer or call Jacquie Baccar on 01228 593810.