In December the pages of this newspaper were filled with uplifting articles about festive events and activities bringing people together to enjoy music, singing, dancing, sport, exercise, a good meal, fresh air and company, writes Karen Weaver.
These religious, social and cultural events are often accompanied by fundraising for local good causes, and volunteers with organisations such as the Round Table, Rotary and Lions groups work so hard to bring festive good cheer and encourage donations to help those in need.
It was great fun to see 120 Santa-suited walkers ambling down the High Street in Pateley Bridge to raise money for Dementia Forward, while Harrogate Band once again donated the proceeds from their wonderful Christmas concert to the Harrogate Easier Living Project, supported by Trinity Methodist Church.
Like many I bemoan the commercialisation of Christmas and the over-emphasis on spending and shopping. However, it is fabulous that the spirit of the Christmas message continues to encourage kindness and generosity and these are just two of many fantastic examples of people working together to make a positive difference in the District at Christmas.
The role of HARCVS as a charity is to support our many local charities and volunteers and we love to shine a light on the difference being made at a very local level by volunteers and community supporters. We need to try to capture that Christmas energy year round and work together with public sector and business colleagues to make the best use of our shared resources. With public spending continuing to be under severe pressure, this type of partnership working is essential, even though it’s not always easy and requires enthusiasm, energy and the ability to leave egos at the door. The more active and involved people are in their communities the better placed we will all be to be resilient and “ready for anything”, whether that is making the most of new opportunities such as the Tour de Yorkshire or responding to emergencies such as flooding.
During 2018 we’ll be continuing to promote the work of voluntary and community groups across the area. You can help with this by making sure your group is listed in our “Where to Turn” online directory, which already has details of over 600 groups and includes events listings as well. If you need volunteers then make sure you use our online volunteering directory and we’ll help promote your vacancies. We’re always keen to share good news stories in our e bulletins and on social media. If you’re from a voluntary or community group and would like to pick up some hints and tips on how to get better at this then sign up for our “See and be Seen” workshop on Tuesday February 1 in Harrogate. You can find more information on all of these opportunities via www.harcvs.org.uk
Access to a pipeline of volunteers and funding is what the local voluntary and community sector needs most in order to achieve their ambitions. Next month I’ll be bringing more news about a hugely important partnership development to assist with the flow of funding, which is the launch of THE LOCAL FUND for the Harrogate District. Designed to encourage and grow local giving, it will provide a long-term source of grants and encouragement to local organisations and help tackle the big social issues that affect local people.
If you have good news stories you’d like to be featured in my monthly column during 2018 please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to hear from you, and please follow us on Twitter @harcvs.org.uk