FOCUS: Learn more about Volunteer Centre WokinghamBy Jon Nurse
September 28, 2012
Volunteers and council representatives packed into The Cornerstone in Wokingham last Thursday to see a showcase of the charity’s services.
“Volunteer Centre Wokingham is not an organisation that lets grass grow under its feet and we are always on the lookout for new ways to enhance our services,” manager Christine Knox said.
The centre, based at The Ritz Plaza in Denton Road, has five staff and almost 80 volunteers serving in education, social services and similar activities within the area administered by Wokingham
In the chairman’s report, David Vaughan said: “Last year I reported the centre had been busier than ever before. Little did I know just how much my comment was tempting fate.
“The year has been an extremely difficult and an even busier one, taxing the abilities of trustees and staff to the limit.”
From April 2011 to March 2012 the charity worked with 452 volunteers, and their tireless work was rewarded with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services this summer.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work done in their communities.
In a promising trend for the sector’s future, more than a third of the centre’s volunteers are under 25.
The youngsters are seizing the opportunity to add to university applications or have something extra to talk about in job interviews.
The centre’s community transport scheme, which takes needy residents to hospital, residential homes or shopping trips, is one of its many success stories and proves the willingness of its volunteers to get involved and help others.
The charity received 2,248 requests for transport last year, from which volunteers made 2,040 journeys and covered more than 31,000 miles.
Margaret Hall, 61, has volunteered as a driver in the scheme for more than four years.
“I’ve recommended the service to all my friends and told them how rewarding it is,” said Mrs Hall, of Dexter Way, Winnersh.
“You meet all kinds of people and they are so appreciative. The scheme is very flexible and you can do the drives when it suits you.”
The meeting was also an opportunity to reveal the centre’s re-branding with a new logo designed by a Winnersh schoolboy.
Pupils in Years Eight and Nine of The Forest School were challenged to create the logo. An image of a blue figure holding a heart, designed by Year Nine’s James Raven, was voted the best of more than 50 entries.
James said: “I wanted to make the image look like a welcoming person, because the charity worked for everyone.
“It’s nice having my logo chosen and used by the charity.”
Despite its sterling efforts in the community there is still some uncertainty about the centre’s future funding so it has embarked on a fundamental review to make sure it remains totally operational and financially effective.
Mr Vaughan said: “Both Wokingham borough and town councils, our primary funders, continue to feel the effects of the squeeze on public sector finances and consequently the future of funding is more uncertain than we would wish as both councils are forced to seek further savings.”
See www.getwokingham.co.uk to learn more about James’ design and the work of Wokingham Volunteer Centre.