Volunteers’ Week, which is 1-7 June this year, is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.
As a service we value the contribution our volunteers make, whether they’re teaching children how to code, selecting and delivering books to a Home Library Service customer, helping customers feel comfortable in our branches or supporting children’s reading though the Summer Reading Challenge.
We’re also proud to be able to offer a broad range of volunteering opportunities that are flexible and accessible, with options for students under the age of 16 who are volunteering to complete a Duke of Edinburgh Award too.
Research has proved that regular volunteering can also support wellbeing – providing opportunities to connect with other people, be physically active, keep learning and give to others – which is why we proudly display the five ways to wellbeing logo on our volunteering web page.
Whilst this week is about celebrating everyone who volunteers, we are grateful to the following volunteers, who shared a little more information on their experience of volunteering with our service:
Pat H has been volunteering for the library service since 1989. Pat is a Home Library Service Volunteer (HLS), whose role includes choosing, delivering, and returning books, in this case audio books or Story Tapes to her customer.
Pat told us: ‘I like to get to know my customer through our chats, getting a better understanding of what makes them tick and what they might prefer to read and, in some cases, introducing new authors. I have always been a reader and used libraries so thought volunteering would be a good way to help others.
I love chatting to my customers and over the many years I have been doing this a lot of them became friends, which was and is, a bonus. I remember one of my ladies who lived alone and could no longer get out and about because of mobility issues. She always insisted I had a cup of tea and biscuit with her. A tray was always laid ready for me with a lovely china cup, saucer and matching plate, it somehow made me feel extra special!
I believe the Home Library Service is a very worthwhile service, it only takes an hour or so about once a month, but you can make such a difference to somebody. My top-tip for anyone considering signing up to be an HLS volunteer is my little book in which I record the books I choose for them so as not to take them again; I also record any they have hated or any requests!’
Pat N joined the Home Library Service and Reading Friends scheme as a volunteer during Covid. She also volunteers in the library at New Milton.
Pat told us: ‘I volunteer in New Milton library one morning a week which involves shelf filling and organising books, preparing crafts for children’s activities, which I particularly enjoy, and occasionally helping with events such as the summer reading challenge as well as other general duties.
For the HLS I select, collect, and deliver reading material in all forms, books, audiobooks and digital downloads, for up to five customers. I enjoy browsing the library catalogue to select suitable books and I love the enthusiasm and the joy receiving their monthly delivery brings to the readers.
Until recently I also had a monthly call with a very elderly lady as part of the reading Befriender scheme (Reading Friends). Although we didn’t talk much about the books the lady had read, as she claimed she couldn’t remember them, we covered lots of topics and always had a good laugh on the call. I found talking to this lady particularly inspiring.
The customers I have met have become friends, sharing their personal history and experiences. Their appreciation of the service is genuine and whilst selecting for them it has opened my mind to reading genres of books I would not have previously considered. If you enjoy reading and meeting people, it’s a very rewarding service to be part of.’
For more information on volunteering and the Home Library Service please visit our website. We are currently recruiting volunteers to help support the Summer Reading Challenge – a national scheme to support children’s literacy throughout the school summer holidays.
Finally don’t miss our Pride Month blog post from Chandler’s Ford Library volunteer Ren too.