We only have to open a newspaper or put on the news to hear reports of cutbacks in services, of economic doom and gloom, of poor personal wellbeing and increasing mental ill-health. A little column stuck towards the back of a local newspaper once a week may not be the greatest beacon of hope, but we think it should be considered a very definite bright light, at the end of a tunnel of bleakness for many.

The work of the voluntary and community sector underpins the lives of so many people in our region, and without the work of countless volunteers many individuals would not be able to access essential services. And the need for the work of Volunteer and Community Groups is increasing.

As we approach our AGM, we reflect on the work of those engaged in the community and voluntary sector in North Lincolnshire. And we take this chance to say thank you to them. Did you know that there are over 900 voluntary groups in North Lincolnshire? And each of these have at least half a dozen volunteers? Some organisations even have hundreds of volunteers, and the real number of volunteers in North Lincolnshire is thousands and thousands.

People volunteer for so many different reasons. Some have time to give, and feel drawn to a particular cause. Some want to give back, through personal experience to say thank you for a good deed done to them. Some want to spend time with family, coaching or guiding, sharing skills. Some are job-seeking and want to build confidence and learn new, transferable skills. And some want companionship. One common thing though, is that Volunteers give their time for free, and without them the lives of so many in our community would be much poorer.

Think of your daily life, and identify the voluntary organisations and volunteers that touch it. The Luncheon Club for older people, the committee of the local village hall, your children’s activity coaches, those who give lifts to medical appointments and many many more. It is amazing how much poorer our lives would be if volunteering didn’t exist. So please, remember the volunteers in your life this week, say thank you, and appreciate how much richer life is for having their gift of time.

And with that a huge Congratulations to Carole Phillips, our Chief Executive Officer, who was elected to the Board of NAVCA, in recognition of her great contribution to the voluntary services locally and her expertise in the sector.

To find out more about Volunteering or the work of VANL, please call us on 01724 845155 or email on enquiries@vanl.org.uk, or see our website www.vanl.org.uk