A special day celebrating volunteers in the community as part of King Charles’s Coronation had to be postponed in Swanage due to wind and rain but eventually The Big Help Out took place with the sun shining in all its crowning glory.
At the popular Friday Market in the Main Beach car park on 26th May 2023, organisations at last, got to set up their stalls to attract more volunteers to join in and help out.
Swanage and Purbeck Rotary members, Maggie Hardy and president-elect Dai Hounsell
“Get a nice warm glow from doing something good”
The event was organised by Swanage and Purbeck Rotary along with the Swanage Volunteer Bureau to highlight the opportunities available within Swanage charities and organisations.
Swanage and Purbeck Rotary president elect Dai Hounsell said:
“There’s a real need for volunteers to help keep Swanage as a friendly, thriving community. Getting involved and helping out means we can give something back and at the same time get a nice warm glow from doing something good and helping others.
“I’d really encourage everyone to do a bit of volunteering in Swanage, as it’s very rewarding.”
At last bright blue sky and sunshine for Swanage’s Big Help Out
Lewis Manning Hospice Trust has a number of volunteer roles available, including working in its Station Road shop
Tackling loneliness and isolation in Swanage
One organisation that really needs more people to volunteer is Swanage Linking Lives, set up to combat loneliness and isolation.
Volunteers are matched with like-minded people who are housebound and then visit or phone them with the aim of becoming friends and providing some company.
There’s also The Place of Welcome, a friendly drop in centre in Swanage where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds meet to chat, play games, knit or sit quietly with a coffee and cake.
Following the Covid pandemic it has proved a much welcome service but now the sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 12 noon are under threat due to a lack of volunteers.
Volunteers from Swanage Volunteer Centre, Swanage Stroke Club, Swanage Linking Lives and Communicare Swanage
“For lonely people who are isolated, it’s a life saver”
Jane Brown from Swanage Linking Lives said:
“I compile the volunteer rota for the drop in mornings and I’m quite despairing about having enough people to enable the sessions to go ahead from this autumn. We have eight volunteers but will be down to six by September.
“For lonely people who are isolated, it’s a life saver – it’s their club and it doesn’t cost them anything. It gives them a social life and quite often people then start meeting with each other outside of our sessions – which is what it’s all about.
“It’s great to be able to play a part in that success and we’d welcome hearing from people who would like to join our friendly team.”
Swanage Pier Trust offers a number of volunteer roles from maintaining the pier and welcoming boats to being a DJ on Purbeck Coast 101.2 FM, the community radio station located on Swanage Pier
John Kirwin started coming along to the Swanage and Purbeck Health Walks and now volunteers to lead them
“It’s free and friendly and it keeps you fit!”
Another great activity to get involved in is Swanage and Purbeck Health Walks. These happen on Tuesdays with a short walk along Swanage’s seafront in the morning and longer walks in the afternoon at locations across Purbeck.
Health Walks organiser John Kirwin said:
“I first got involved by coming along to the walks – my wife had had a back injury and needed to exercise, so I came along to support her. However it wasn’t long before I started volunteering to organise the walks.
“Often people come along if they have recently lost their partner. So many go on walks with a partner but when they’re not here, they can be at a bit of a loss, but there’s plenty of company to be had for everyone on our walks.
“The walks make people happy, brings them out of themselves. It’s free and friendly and it keeps you fit! What else could you want?
“And you could even end up as a walk leader. We offer training and you could soon be making a real difference by supporting all kinds of people to lead a more active lifestyle.”
Healthwatch Dorset recruits volunteers to carry out surveys of local healthcare provision, championing successes while trying to change things that aren’t going so well
Volunteering is her passion! – Vicky Hall from the Volunteer Centre Dorset
“Doing good, does you good”
Coordinating volunteering across the county is the Volunteer Centre Dorset, which supports the Swanage Volunteer Bureau and other organisations to recruit volunteers and retain them. Vicky Hall who’s the training and development lead for the Volunteer Centre Dorset said:
“Doing good, does you good. It gives you a sense of purpose and you can learn new skills. You can do as much or as little as you like. Ad hoc and micro volunteering is very popular allowing you to do something like pick up some shopping for someone just as a one off.
“I could talk lots, lots more about volunteering and the benefits – it’s my passion!”
To get in touch about volunteering with the local organisations which took part in The Big Help Out