This week is National Volunteers' Week, and what better excuse to take the time to profile some of the fantastic people who give their time, skills and energy to benefit the children that we work with.
These days we only take volunteers abroad very rarely. It’s not an experience the public can apply for or buy into. We’re a small charity and want to put all our resources and time into making sure the children we work with have the very best provision. Large scale volunteer programmes don’t really fit with this strategy, but once a year, we do take a small group of volunteers from The Body Shop at Home™, and other corporate partners who tirelessly raise money for our work throughout the year, to one of our projects.
Here in the UK, we rely weekly, monthly and annually on our wonderful band of volunteers. Our annual events simply could not and would not, take place without the commitment and dedication of our local team of helpers.
From our enthusiastic marshals at the Chi Half who keep participants safe and going in the right direction, to volunteers at our Easter Trail who help communicate the importance of our work to the local children of West Sussex - we are indebted to them all.
We also owe a huge amount to our weekly volunteers who come into the office and generally assist with daily activities, from helping with grant applications, to sorting paperwork for archiving, to booking stalls for events and helping generate local funds through talks, street collections and much, much more.
Emily Dadson, our Office Manager says “At the heart of all we do we are children on the edge – abandoned, forgotten, ignored. Our volunteers understand this vision and purpose and so become very much part of the COTE team. Their practical input is invaluable, but also their wisdom, thoughts and ideas. We listen and learn and gain so much more from having them work alongside us. They genuinely add value to our tasks and our gratitude to them is huge. I hope we say thank you enough – but just in case we don’t, here are our thanks – in black and white – from all of us to all of you. You know who you are!”
Take a few moments to meet some of our volunteers!
Justine is the owner of Mia Bella Casa in Rustington and has given a phenomenal amount of time to Children on the Edge over the years.
She says "I have been a supporter of Children on the Edge for many years. I worked for The Body Shop and we were did a lot of fundraising for them. Back in December 2010 I was made redundant, knew I wanted to spend a few months volunteering and decided to go to Children on the Edge .
I helped organise the flagship event, the Easter Trail and the Chichester Half Marathon for 2 years running. I loved it, the team are fabulous, but just knowing that you are giving something back to the community and helping children whose lives are in such turmoil makes it so worthwhile. It's also a chance to learn new skills."
Just last month this year’s volunteer team came back from a play scheme week in Uganda. Sara was one of at the volunteers from Redburn. She described how “Without a doubt, the biggest highlight of the week was the amazing smiles on the children’s faces and the sheer joy they expressed whilst playing. I have never experienced a group of children consistently so positive and helpful to their peers. I could have easily stayed longer than the week we had and I'd love to go back again!”
Walter is a retired Headmaster who has been giving his valuable time and skills to Children on the Edge for the past few years. He says “Having done some travelling in South East Asia, I was very aware of the huge number of children living on very little in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma and Thailand. When I realised that Children on the Edge existed to help these very children, I was keen to volunteer to help.
In the last couple of years I have spoken at school assemblies, shaken a bucket at the railway station, given a presentation at a day centre, not to mention dished out water at the Chichester Half Marathon. There are office chores as well – but the cause is such a good one that routine tasks (during hours that fit in with other commitments) are not a great burden. I strongly recommend Children on the Edge!”
Sara has recently started working for us as a Fundraising Support Officer, previously to this she has been volunteering for 3 years and has been an invaluable member of the team.
She says “I started volunteering for COTE because I wanted to gain some experience working for an international children’s charity. I had made a project about Anita Roddick in college and had become interested in what COTE were doing. When I arrived I was thrilled to find out that my education degree was going to help. I helped create a schools pack and visited various schools and fundraising days. I’ve also helped out with the Easter Trail both in the planning stages and on the day.
For me, volunteering has been quite a life line. Keeping busy and knowing that I was able to support the wonderful work that Children on the Edge do, has helped me through some difficult times and has also had a huge influence on the decisions I have made about my life and career. I have loved being a part of the COTE volunteer family and I am really excited for the future”.