Celebrating the work of volunteers in North Yorkshire

This story was published 24 May 2022

In celebration of Volunteers Week (June 1 to 7), dedicated volunteers in North Yorkshire are being recognised for the contribution they make to their community.

Brian Coan IT buddy

We offer a variety of volunteering opportunities from helping in a local library to supporting young people in the Youth Justice Service.

To mark Volunteers Week, residents are being encouraged to find out what opportunities are on offer in their local area.

County Council leader Carl Les said: “It’s important to reflect on the life changing role that volunteers play in supporting communities across North Yorkshire. Many of our services rely on the work of volunteers to function, so we know how vital it is to encourage more people to get involved.

“Our volunteers speak of improved health and wellbeing from building connections with new people and giving them a feeling of purpose. You have the choice to dip in and out of activities or volunteer on a regular basis, and will always be well supported by staff. There’s so many opportunities out there to explore!”

Our libraries have a fantastic relationship with volunteers who are essential to the delivery of the service. One of the valuable services they support is the IT buddy scheme, which has increased in popularity since the pandemic, possibly because more people have recognised the convenience and value in being able to both conduct business and access entertainment online.

In his retirement, Brian Coan has been volunteering as an IT buddy at Northallerton library. He helps to guide people with the skills they need to use computers and the internet.

He said: “When I retired I had a bee in my bonnet because a lot of people, particularly older ones, said they couldn’t use computers because they were not bright enough. I knew that wasn’t the case and was determined to make myself available to at least help people learn the basics.

“I rely on people to tell me what they want to know about, some only want to use emails, others want to know about searching. Some people have a computer, but don’t know what to do with it. I take them through the basics. I get a lot of satisfaction from it.”

David Sanderson is among those to benefit from Brian’s assistance and said he would be going back for further sessions to brush up his skills. Although he owns a laptop and tablet, David has struggled to maintain online contact with friends in other parts of the world and was keen to improve his knowledge of emailing.

“I was told these one to one sessions were available so I went along and found it very interesting,” he said. “I will be going back; you are never too old to learn. I want to broaden my horizons from gardening and playing bridge.”

Many hard to reach and vulnerable residents also benefit from shopping and medication deliveries, community transport and befriending calls or visits. Demand for these inevitably increased during the pandemic.

Youth Justice Service volunteers work with young people that get into trouble with the law and support them as best they can to stay away from crime.

An Appropriate Adult volunteer, who has worked in the NHS for 32 years, said: “Within my role I strive to provide the attention and help young people within my care need. I liaise with other services that can support and guide these young people back on track, to make the most of their lives whilst staying on the right side of the law.

“I received excellent training throughout which fully prepared me for the first interaction with a young person in a police environment. I view my role as a long-term investment which gives me great satisfaction from helping others.”

A survey of volunteers we conducted in 2021 found that 97% are very satisfied or satisfied with the volunteer experience and 94% are likely to volunteer in the long-term. It found that 85% feel a greater sense of belonging to their community and 72% have an improved sense of personal health and wellbeing.

People can find out about volunteering roles with us and other volunteering opportunities in North Yorkshire.