The volunteers column with Karen Weaver

Find out more about the 2017 Volunteer Oscar at www.harcvs.org.uk.
Find out more about the 2017 Volunteer Oscar at www.harcvs.org.uk.

As usual I’m a bit last minute writing this article which today means I’m sitting at the computer on the morning after the General Election, wondering how to come up with a relevant piece that focuses on the voluntary and community sector.

So much has happened in the five weeks since I last wrote, much of it hard to understand and, in the case of the recent terrorist attacks, deeply upsetting.

It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by events over which we have little control.

However I was moved by the response of our sister organisation in Manchester in the days after the city was so terribly affected: “Our message is simple: first, be kind.

“Be kind to everyone around you. Be defiantly kind.”

At Harrogate and Ripon CVS we’re fortunate to come across acts of kindness every day, within our own team and amongst our 180 member organisations too. Being kind is something that all of us can aim to be, every day in our local communities.

This doesn’t require formal volunteering; it could just be giving someone directions, a friendly smile to a neighbour or picking up some litter. We can’t all be heroes, but we can all make someone’s day. We can also all share our experiences of those simple acts of kindness.

For all its challenges, social media offers charities and voluntary organisations a quick way to do this, and via @HARCVS we share and re-tweet any local voluntary and community sector good news, events, activities and requests for help.

It’s not just about volunteers and charities either, as we’re fortunate to have many businesses across the District who are keen to play their part in being kind.

There’s a lot that can be achieved when charities and businesses get together to share ideas, skills and expertise.

The key is to make those connections, and there was a great event last week which illustrated this. The Disability Action Yorkshire Market Place event at the Cedar Court Hotel brought together a range of exhibitors to share information on the ways in which their products and services could help disabled people to live independent lives. There was an impressive array of products and interesting gadgets ranging from bubble blowers to beds.

Many of the exhibitors were charities but it was also interesting to meet the team from GSPK Design in Knaresborough, who are developing cutting edge assistive technology activated by muscle twitches.

HARCVS also had a stand and gave out information about our voluntary car driver services in Harrogate and Ripon.

One conversation was with someone interested in developing therapeutic gardening and so we shared details of an open day at Woodlands Community Garden at Woodlands Methodist Church on Wetherby Rd, Harrogate.

This is taking place on Saturday 8 July 10-4pm and aims to provide an opportunity for volunteers from community gardens and green spaces in the district to share ideas on green fingered kindness!

Finally, news of two forthcoming events. Firstly, if you are a charity or community group that want to get to grips with social media then our next social media surgery is on Monday 1 July at Ripon Workhouse (run by volunteers for volunteers in a volunteer led historic building). Secondly if you know someone who exemplifies kindness you can now nominate them for a 2017 Volunteer Oscar. Find out more via our website at www.harcvs.org.uk.