Lancashire Adult Learning is celebrating some of its volunteering star learners during Volunteers’ Week 2021.
Taking place from Tuesday 1st June until Monday 7th June, Volunteers’ Week is a national initiative. It is an opportunity to say thank you and shine a light on the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.
Volunteering has especially come into focus over the last 12 months with the Covid-19 pandemic. Across Lancashire, LAL is recognising some of the star volunteers that tutors have supported through LAL’s range of volunteering courses. These have enabled learners to help out in their communities.
Marjorie Hayward, 75, Founder of Friends for You in Chorley, has worked with LAL for the last five years. Friends for You recruits volunteer befrienders to support lonely or isolated people in the Chorley area once a week.
Marjorie said: “Lancashire Adult Learning’s training forms three quarters of our course. This prepares our volunteers to become safe befrienders to lonely people.
“This means that Friends for You can reach out to the wider community in and around Chorley. GPs, Age UK, link workers, and Chorley Council can refer lonely people to Friends for You with confidence, knowing that we have properly, professionally trained befrienders to contact them.
“With the help of Lancashire Adult Learning, we have grown the number of volunteer befrienders we have at Friends for You from 40 to 110 since January 2020. This has helped us meet demand. The number of people we support has increased to 170 every week now from just over 50 previously.”
Rachel Holliday, 22, from Adlington, is one of those learners who took up a course with LAL. She said: “I was just finishing my Fine Art degree at university when the pandemic began. I have previously had experience of volunteering, supporting children with autism with art sessions at Manchester Art Gallery and doing art sessions at Bolton Hospice.
“Through Lancashire Adult Learning, I’ve been volunteering with Friends for You during the pandemic. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are helping somebody through a befriending service. It has been good to get to know the people I have been supporting.
“LAL’s courses have been a great comfort during the lockdown period. The sessions were well structured and it was a good chance to socialise while learning new skills.”
Uzmaa Rehman, 39, from Accrington, has completed several volunteering courses with LAL. These include a bitesize Business Administration and Customer Service course, Volunteering Into Employment and Supporting Your Next Career Move.
Uzmaa said: “I’ve done several volunteering courses with Lancashire Adult Learning. I want to get back into work after a period of ill health. They have really given my confidence a boost, and are also helping me towards achieving a career change and my aim of working in the NHS.
“I have been volunteering at the Barbara Castle Way Health Centre in Blackburn. I have enjoyed helping out there, meeting and greeting the people who come into the centre for appointments.
“Previously I worked in a Post Office as a counter clerk. Because of the excellent care, service and experience I have had with the NHS, I’m planning for a career change. I want to give something back and I would like to work in a healthcare setting.”
LAL’s volunteering courses were perfect for Joyce Hargreaves, 60, from Nelson. Joyce has completed a wide range of them to keep busy and learn new skills after becoming unemployed.
Joyce said: “I work as a volunteer gardener at Pendleside Hospice. I have also recently started to help out with audio recording at Pendle Voice. This is a service that enables members of the community who are blind to keep up with local news and current affairs.
“I’ve really enjoyed the volunteering courses I have done with LAL, and the other courses too including horticulture. The quality of the courses is excellent, and they are very informative and sociable. The tutors have worked wonders during lockdown to support adult learners with courses through Zoom.
“I feel really positive and confident having attended classes. I am considering my options for the future. This could be part time work or further volunteering opportunities that are aligned to my interests.”
Karen Lee, 59, from Heysham, decided to enrol onto volunteering courses to be a more active member of the community.
Karen said: “I’m an early retiree and I decided to take up volunteering courses with Lancashire Adult Learning to keep busy. My husband has also recently taken on the chairmanship of the neighbourhood committee.
“Helping to improve the village and make a difference for the wider community was another motivation. I have learned a wide range of new skills through the courses.
“I have also done a befriending course with Lancashire Adult Learning and I have supported Friends for You in the Chorley area. I have taken the skills I learned on that course and applied them to support people in Heysham village who have been isolated during the pandemic.”
Lancashire Adult Learning’s current range of courses under its Volunteering offer includes Befriending, Mentoring, Dementia Awareness, Building a Community Project, Equality and Diversity, Mental Health, Safeguarding and Volunteering into Employment.
Tom Gee, Head of Curriculum for Employability, Skills and Volunteering at Lancashire Adult Learning, said: “Each year, we take great pride in the work our volunteering stars undertake in their communities and we enjoy saying a big thank you to them.
“In 2021, that is no different, and we are prouder than ever to celebrate the efforts of volunteers across Lancashire from the last 12 months which has been a period of time like no other in living memory.
“Here at Lancashire Adult Learning, we have a passion to increase the number of volunteers there are across the Red Rose County.
“Volunteering is really rewarding. Through our network of community partners, it would be great to use Volunteers’ Week 2021 to kickstart the training and support of a new group of volunteers wherever you are in Lancashire.”
To view the range of Volunteering courses offered by Lancashire Adult Learning, further information can be found on the website at www.lal.ac.uk, or by calling 0333 003 1717.
Lancashire Adult Learning’s course offer supports adult learners across Lancashire, and these are largely free, flexible and available online.
They include courses to boost health and wellbeing, options to retrain, classes to improve digital skills, and family learning opportunities.